For one day only, the cast of Michelle Handelman’s newly commissioned work Hustlers & Empires (2018) activates the three-channel video installation in the Gina and Stuart White Box. Unfolding in gallery time, this day-long iteration of Hustlers & Empires loops through the stories of Handelman’s three characters, blending the three-channel video with live performances that intermittently inhabit the gallery space.
Hustlers & Empires interweaves stories of three aging hustlers from different time periods who each find themselves pushed out of their own game and forced back to confront what their lives have become. Inspired by Iceberg Slim’s Pimp (1967), Marguerite Duras’s The Lover (1984), and Federico Fellini’s Toby Dammit (1968), Handelman draws on the stories of three real and imagined hustlers. Handelman re-contextualizes these historical and literary characters through three legendary performers — Shannon Funchess, John Kelly, and Viva Ruiz — in a queer, feminist framework, opening up questions of survival and belonging, intersecting with issues of race, class, and gender.
This day-long performance within the three-channel installation includes sounds, gestures, and performances of the original songs written by Handelman’s standout cast, Funchess, Kelly, and Ruiz that were commissioned specifically for this piece.
Hustlers & Empires Credits
Starring: Shannon Funchess, John Kelly, Viva Ruiz
Producer: John Morrow
Co-producers: Kenneth Filmer and Thomas Burr Dodd, Brooklyn Fireproof Films
Cinematography: Ed David
Costumes: Karen Young; Zaldy; Neon Music
Set design: And Or Forever
Sound design: Quentin Chiappetta
Still photography: Mr. Means
Original music: John Kelly and Carol Lipnik; Viva Ruiz and BEARCAT; Shannon Funchess; Jonathan Kreinik