Irma Vep, The Last Breath by Michelle Handelman

Press release

Irma Vep by Michelle Handelman
Irma Vep by Michelle Handelman
Irma Vep, The Last Breath by Michelle Handelman; installation shots from exhibition at The Henry Art Gallery, 2015.

Irma Vep, The Last Breath  by Michelle Handelman

July 11 – October 11, 2015 at
The Henry Art Gallery
University of Washington
15th Ave. NE & NE 41st St.
Seattle, Washington 98105, USA

The Henry presents the West Coat premiere of the multichannel video installation Irma Vep, The Last Breath (2013) by Michelle Handelman. Irma Vep – an anagram for vampire – is the lead female character of Les Vampires (dir. Louis Feuillade,1915), a French silent, serial film about a gang of thieves that terrorizes the upper class of Parisian society.

In Michelle Handelman’s contemporary reconsideration of Feuillade’s classic, the legacy of screen criminal Irma Vep comes alive in the body of transgender artist and performer Zackary Drucker (Transparent). A non-linear narrative and psychological portrait unfolds as Irma Vep exchanges dialogue with her therapist and encounters the real-life actress who played her, Musidora, in the form of drag icon Flawless Sabrina (The Queen). Starkly illuminated projections and a dramatic audio score envelop viewers in a story of queer identity, criminal anxiety, and a life within the shadows of society. Irma Vep, The Last Breath features costumes by the award-winning fashion collective threeASFOUR and sound by Quentin Chiappetta (Christian Marclay’s The Clock).

This marks the 100-year anniversary of Les Vampires, and in celebration the Henry will host a series of screenings and talks, ranging from a profile of the film’s female lead, Musidora, to the cultural history of the catsuit: Jessica Burstein with Irma Vep, October 8, 2015, 6-8:30pm.

Irma Vep by Michelle Handelman
Irma Vep, The Last Breath by Michelle Handelman; installation shot from exhibition at The Henry Art Gallery, 2015.

Irma Vep by Michelle Handelman
Irma Vep, The Last Breath by Michelle Handelman; installation shot from exhibition at The Henry Art Gallery, 2015.

About Michelle Handelman

Michelle Handelman is a Brooklyn-based artist and Associate Professor in the Film and Media department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. She has received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the MAP Fund, among others, and in 2011, she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for research toward Irma Vep, the last breath. Handelman has exhibited and screened her work internationally at the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing (2014, solo); Oslo Screen Festival, Sweden (2012); Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin, Texas (2011, solo); the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2011); and Participant, Inc., New York (2009, solo), among others. She received an M.F.A. from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and a B.F.A from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Irma Vep by Michelle Handelman
Irma Vep, The Last Breath by Michelle Handelman; installation shot from exhibition at The Henry Art Gallery, 2015.

Irma Vep' by Michelle Handelman
Irma Vep, The Last Breath by Michelle Handelman; installation shot from exhibition at The Henry Art Gallery, 2015.

Irma Vep by Michelle Handelman
Irma Vep, The Last Breath by Michelle Handelman; installation shot from exhibition at The Henry Art Gallery, 2015.

Irma Vep by Michelle Handelman
Irma Vep, The Last Breath by Michelle Handelman; installation shot from exhibition at The Henry Art Gallery, 2015.

Irma Vep by Michelle Handelman
Irma Vep, The Last Breath by Michelle Handelman; installation shot from exhibition at The Henry Art Gallery, 2015.


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