2007, 05:32 minutes, colour
Art Parade sustains M. M. Serra’s long-standing interest in gender and sexuality and in the structures of looking that precipitate around both. The piece combines footage from the 2006 Deitch Projects Art Parade, Man Ray’s photographs, gallery art works (a giant red stiletto that seems to dance in front of the camera), and a brief glimpse of the Paris subway, where a couple of humorless security guards ask the filmmaker to turn off her camera. (“OK,” she says, “then I’ll just shoot you” and sure enough, there they are in the film.) Pink and blue screens provide occasional transitions between these scenes. Art Parade is a meditation on staring and display, and on the ambiguous energies that emanate from both. Much of the film is dominated by the stunning presence of Kembra Pfahler (leader and co-founder of rock-performance troupe The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black) escorted by a chorus of her Karen Black Girls. Pfahler’s intimidating self-display contrasts with the female models in Man Ray’s photographs, props in a male artist’s fantasies rather than protagonists of their own. Pfahler’s control of the visual field is also a counterpoint to the French guards’ injunction to stop filming. Filmed in 8mm and re-photographed off the screen, the parade footage has a grainy, aged quality that brings it close to the texture of Man Ray’s images. This texture also underlines the fact that visuality is never unproblematic. The film is punctuated by self-reflexive gestures at the end of the film, a barely discernible lecturer reflects on experimental narrative and by the driving, hypnotic music of the Mexican-Austrian Collective La Trinchera. - Juan A. Suárez
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