Unearthing Musidora – Les Vampires Centennial
Irma Vep, The Last Breath
Dir. Michelle Handelman, US, 2014, video, 40 min.
Followed by a conversation with artists Michelle
Handelman and Virgil Marti
Based on the protagonist of Louis Feuillade’s silent crime thriller Les Vampires and the life of the actress who portrayed her, Musidora, Handelman’s Irma Vep, The Last Breath imagines Irma Vep in conversation with her therapist while examining existential questions of identity and sacrifice. The legacy of screen criminal Irma Vep comes alive in the bodies of transgender artist and performer Zackary Drucker (Transparent) and legendary drag icon Flawless Sabrina (The Queen). Handelman mirrors Drucker and Sabrina’s relationship with that of Irma Vep and Musidora’s, to document a trans-generational evolution of gender and performance. In this conflation of past and present lives, Irma Vep, The Last Breath allows space for anxious projections of desire on the void that is Irma Vep – between vamps of the silent era and the contemporary queer. Featuring a soundtrack by Quentin Chiappetta (Christian Marclay’s The Clock) and costumes by the renowned fashion collective threeASFOUR.
Dir. Henri d’Ursel, Belgium/France, video, 29 min., b/w,
D'Ursel made only one film, based on a screenplay by the poet Georges Hugnet. In a Paris straight out of the serials of Louis Feuillade, the hero goes in search of a pearl which constantly disappears in a string of bizarre encounters – thieves sneak into a hotel wearing catsuits à la Musidora, a beautiful fiancée on a bicycle and a somnambulist walking the rooftops in a night-shirt. Hugnet himself played this waking dreamer, haunted by an unending eroticism reflected in the images.