Brice Dellsperger, Body Double 18
09 September through 02 October 2004
Team Gallery will open the 2004-2005 season with a new video installation
by the Paris-based artist Brice Dellsperger. Entitled Body Double
18, the show will run from the 9th of September through 2nd of October
2004. The gallery is located at 527 West 26th Street, between Tenth
and Eleventh Avenues, on the ground floor.
Brice Dellsperger's Body Double 18 is a synchronized three-channel
video installation that presents 15 young subjects. The sequence,
a recreation of a scene from David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, focuses
on the representation of a weeping female character who is masturbating
furiously but is unable to achieve orgasm. For this work, Dellsperger
called on the assistance of members of both sexes who are styled
in the overly determined manner of a carnivalesque femininity. The
three projections repeatedly alternate sitters as the viewer is surrounded
by an almost suffocating sense of furious desire and frustration.
The image track shifts repeatedly from point-of-view shots of a stone
wall to images of Dellsperger's cast doubles. The camera pans down
from close-ups of their garish, tear-stained faces, across their
chests and bellies, ending with close-ups of their hands moving frenetically
underneath the fabric of their underwear. With this dynamic installation,
Dellsperger continues to create works which prick at the gender codes
inscribed by the contemporary American cinema, revealing their animosity
toward any alternative identity formation. Even in Lynch's purportedly
avant-garde work, gender representations are stifled, yoked to very
Body doubling is a standard cinematic production strategy in which
one human body is filmed in a manner that will enable it to pass
for another. Body doubling, in practice, serves two purposes - one
economic, the other aesthetic. When Brian de Palma, to site one famous
example, used a body double to "substitute" for Angie Dickinson
in Dressed to Kill, the production was able to pay an extra a lower
wage scale for labor than that charged by the infinitely more costly
star. In addition, and most importantly, when cutting away from shots
of Dickinson's then fifty year-old face, to the breasts of a woman
in her early twenties, a third impossible body was constructed across
the edit, a body that was somehow more "acceptable" than
that of the far too human Dickinson.
Without a doubt, damage seeps from this phantom, Frankensteinian
body infecting the minds of spectators, who begin to see their own
bodies as complicit in a chain of constant comparison between "ourselves" and
these filmic representations. In this manner, the phenomenon of the
Body Double is an amalgam of the aesthetic and the ideological, one
which foregrounds the idea of the body as imperfect without the saving
intervention of technology, cosmetics and science. How do we stack
up? This innocent shell-game, this bait-and-switch, is the triggering
inspiration for Dellsperger's entire Body Double project in which
he consistently miscasts both against gender and, frequently, against
body type. In his practice, women have played River Phoenix, femme
queens have played John Travolta, butch men have played Carrie Fisher.
In the artist's Body Double 18, we are constantly made to shift our
gaze back and forth across the 15 figures posing as Naomi Watts,
comparing their respective beauties.
Dellsperger's filmic doublings are the inheritors of a complex series
of very disparate practices including, but not limited to, the Warhol/Morrissey
genre deconstructions (such as Lonesome Cowboys, Heat, and Flesh
for Frankenstein); to American avant-gardists Joseph Cornell and
Bruce Connor who constructed filmic pieces from previously authored
imagery; and to Austrian experimental filmmakers such as Martin Arnold
and Peter Tscherkassky who create works by repeating fragments from
the films of Hollywood's Classical period. Dellsperger's unique activity
straddles the avant-garde and the commercial, the perverse and the
normative, the narrative and its opposite. Their hybrid formal nature
is mirrored by their gender representations, which mix and match
an elaborate myriad of sexual performativities.
They are indeed captivating, enjoyable (oftentimes deliriously so),
however, there is also lot of meat, so to speak, in these projections.
Dellsperger's work is included in a number of prominent public collections
including that of the Museum of Modern Art here in New York. He has
recently been included in exhibitions at the Vienna Secession, at
the Centre Georges Pompidou, and at the Migros Museum in Zurich.
This is Dellsperger's second one-person show at Team and the first
time that one of his multi-screen works is being shown in the US.