MICHELLE HANDELMAN uses video, live performance and photography to make confrontational works that explore the sublime in its various forms of excess and nothingness. Her background is a study in opposites – raised during the late 60s/early 70s, Handelman split her time between Chicago, where her mother was a fixture in the art world, and Los Angeles, where her father was a player in the counterculture sex industry. Over the years Handelman has voraciously traversed both these worlds, developing a body of work that investigates ways of looking at the forbidden and revealing dark, subconscious layers of outsider agency.
“My work can be best described by theorist Helene Cixous’ ideas of Visceral Feminism: aggressively traversing the corporeal landscape in its various forms of excess and undress, while simultaneously giving it up for the viewer in an overflow of visual and psychological sensations.” Michelle Handelman
In the mid 90s Handelman directed and produced the feature documentary BloodSisters (Bravo Award 1999), an in-depth look at the San Francisco Leatherdyke scene that has just been re-released by the Tribeca Film Institute’s Reframe Collection. Her videos have screened internationally including Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris; ICA, London; MIT List Visual Arts Center; Guangzhou 53 Art Museum; American Film Institute and 3LD Art & Technology Center, NYC. Her performances have been featured at Participant, Inc., NYC; Exit Art, NYC; Performa – the first biennial of visual performance; 3LD Art & Technology Center, NYC and The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Recent projects include Irma Vep, the last breath (forthcoming to Broad Art Musuem); Dorian, a cinematic perfume (touring); The Laughing Lounge (Performa 05); This Delicate Monster (2004/07); Passerby <ghost sites> for the show public.exe: Public Execution (Exit Art 2004) curated by Anne Ellegood and Michele Thursz; and DJ Spooky vs. WebSpinstress M (2002) an animated collaboration with Paul Miller AKA DJ Spooky. In 2007 Bloomingdale’s chose Handelman’s work for their Fall Art Campaign.
Before moving to New York in 1999 Handelman collaborated for many years with Monte Cazazza, a pioneer of the Industrial music scene in San Francisco. Their explicit film Catscan broke into the art world through a series of guerrilla actions and together they built several bodies of work including The Torture Series, the video Hope (1995 Sony Visions Award) and the essay The Cereal Box Conspiracy Against the Developing Mind, published in Apocalypse Culture 2, by Feral House Press. While in San Francisco Handelman collaborated with Eric Werner, co-founder of the industrial performance group Survival Research Laboratories, performed in several pieces by Lynn Hersman- Leeson, and worked on Jon Moritsugu’s production “Terminal USA“.
She is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and has been awarded grants from New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Cultural Agency, MAP Fund and the Experimental Television Center Finishing Fund among others. Her fiction and critical writing appear in several anthologies including Inappropriate Behaviour (Serpents Tail, London 2001) and Herotica 3 edited by Susie Bright (Plume Books, SF 1994). Her work is in the collection of Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art; Kadist Art Foundation SF/Paris; di Rosa Foundation and Preserve, Napa, California; and Zabludowicz Art Trust, London. Handelman is an Associate Professor in the Film and Media department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.