Michelle Handelman, “These Unruly and Ungovernable Selves”: an online video exhibition

May 28, 2020
Michelle Handelman, These Unruly and Ungovernable Selves, 2020. Single-channel video, sound. 6′. Courtesy of the artist and signs and symbols, New York.

Michelle Handelman’s video exhibition “These Unruly and Ungovernable Selves” opens today through signs and symbols’ website.

These Unruly and Ungovernable Selves is a new video work by Michelle Handelman that recontextualizes characters from her previous works into a hypnotic visual essay about the transfiguring of interiority during periods of isolation and fear. These Unruly and Ungovernable Selves takes as its starting point the current coronavirus pandemic and filters it through Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project and his idea that “the threshold must be carefully distinguished from the boundary.” Handelman’s characters, who have already struggled with existential questions of belonging and fear in her projects Dorian, A Cinematic Perfume; Irma Vep, The Last Breath; and Hustlers & Empires, are collaged with found images and texts to take on a new form as they cross the threshold into a multiverse that simultaneously denies and struggles with containment.
Handelman writes: “While in lockdown I’ve been thinking about spaces of containment and agency, the agitated state where inertia rubs up against desire, the fear of an unseen invader. When we find ourselves cut off from all that forms our identity, then who are we? And how do we transfigure interiority during periods of isolation and fear. As my dear friend and trans activist Zackary Drucker says, “When you hit a wall, when all you see are walls, shift your plane of gravity and make it the floor.”

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