Kenneth Anger, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, 16mm, 1954/66
Michelle Handelman, Dorian, a cinematic perfume, HD Video, 2012
Dirty Looks pairs a US video premiere by multimedia artist, Michelle Handelman with an occult masterwork from the magus of the American avant-garde - Kenneth Anger. With an emphasis on costume and color, these works respond to historical models of decadence and deviance to evoke hallucinatory scenes of voluptuous pleasure.
Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome took its initial inspiration from the fabled “Come As Your Madness” party, featuring such luminaries as Anaïs Nin, artist and occultist Marjorie Cameron, and queer experimental and filmmaker Curtis Harrington. Anger invited these guests, in their party attire, to the home of famed Hollywood recluse Samson de Brier, who also features in Inauguration. Anger's hedonistic and hallucinatory film, which draws on the work of notorious occultist Aleister Crowley for its atmosphere of neo-pagan decadence is a “lavishly costumed magic masquerade party,” in the words of Alice Hutchison. Inauguration builds to a delirious crescendo of editing and superimposition with an increasingly lurid color palette, as its revelers become high on a hallucinogenic brew and the celebration becomes more orgiastic.
In Dorian, a cinematic perfume, Michelle Handelman reinterprets The Picture of Dorian Gray, emphasizing the queer undertones and hedonism of the Wilde novel. Dorian features well-known personalities from the New York drag and burlesque scene, playing versions of themselves, blurring the line between performance and reality. Sequinette, a young gender-bending drag queen plays Dorian Gray. Dorian also features renowned drag performer and theremin player Armen Ra, media artist Quin Charity, video and performance artist K8 Hardy, and drag legend Flawless Sabrina. Dorian, with its excessive costumes, glitter, and color, both glamorizes and interrogates societal notions of narcissism, youth, beauty, and the cult of celebrity.
The event will also feature a complimentary publication featuring writings and original artwork.