Dorian, A Cinematic Perfume
color, sound, 4-channel, 63:13, 2009/11
Dorian, A Cinematic Perfume is based on Oscar Wilde’s 19th century novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray and its themes of decadence, narcissism and the meaning of art. Presented as a non-linear narrative on four screens, Handelman has interpreted the story and its queer undertones by featuring a cast of queer musicians and performers that inscribes a new form a narrative – hypnotic, dense, phantasmagorical and raw.
In Handelman’s adaptation Dorian as a young woman discovered by a fashion photographer who falls under the tutelage of an infamous drag queen and becomes a nightclub luminary, constantly followed by the paparazzi. These media images become the infamous portrait, grotesquely mutating as she grows more beautiful and famous.
Like the films of Warhol and Godard, that blur the lines between performance and reality, all of the performers in Dorian are playing some version of themselves. Sequinette (Dorian) is a young gender-bending drag impresario; Armen Ra (Lord H) is a renowned theremin player and drag performer; K8 Hardy (Sybl Vain) is a performance artist and co-creator of the queer art collective LTTR; and Jack Doroshow aka Flawless Sabrina (Dead Dorian) is a drag legend. The story is told through fragmented dialogue and music, using quotes from the original novel. Each character communicates through an emotional architecture of sound and surface utilizing their own instrument of theremin, synthesizer, viola, or voice. The piece exists for multiple platforms including single-channel projection, multiple screens and live performance.
“the whole film casts a captivating spell while delivering a mordant commentary on the decadence of contemporary culture.” – Ken Johnson, The New York Times
Director/Editor: Michelle Handelman; Performers: Quin Charity, K8 Hardy, Armen Ra, Flawless Sabrina, Sequinette; Cinematogrphy: Edward David; Costumes: Garo Sparo; Still Photography: Laure Leber; Original Music: Vincent Baker, Lustmord, Armen Ra, Nadia Sirota, Stefan Tcherepnin; Original Artwork: Amelie Chabannes (drawings for animation) and Daniella Dooling (wall sculptures). Partial list.
Dorian, A Cinematic Perfume is supported by the NYSCA Distribution Regrant, Electronic Media and Film (2010), Experimental Television Center Finishing Fund Grant (2008), LMCC Studio Residency Program, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (2007).