Michelle Handelman’s Hustlers & Empires

Tuesday, Dec 5, 2017

Limited Edition presents Hustlers & Empires (2018), a new work from Michelle Handelman.

A three-channel video work and live performance, 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. This new commission draws on the stories of three real and imagined hustlers, inspired by Iceberg Slim’s Pimp (1967), Marguerite Duras’s The Lover (1984), and Federico Fellini’s Toby Dammit (1968). 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, and how they intersect with issues of race, class, and gender.

This performance is a part of Limited Edition, an online and live program organized by Open Space, the museum’s digital platform for contemporary arts and culture. In addition to live programs presented at SFMOMA and sister institutions CounterPulse, ODC Theater, The Lab, and Z Space, Open Space will feature newly commissioned essays investigating issues of legacy, appropriation, and ownership in performance art.

About the Artist

Michelle Handelman uses video, live performance, and photography to make hypnotic moving image installations that push against the boundaries of gender, race, and sexuality. Coming up through the years of the AIDS crisis and Culture Wars, Handelman has built a body of confrontational and phantasmagoric works that blur the line between fiction and reality, investigating philosophical questions of existence about the things we collectively fear and deny: sex, death, chaos. A 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, Handelman has been exhibited internationally, including at Pompidou Centre, Paris; ICA, London; Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum; PERFORMA; Guangzhou 53 Art Museum; PARTICIPANT, INC, NYC; Lincoln Center; REDCAT. Her work is in the collection of Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art; Eli & Edythe Broad Museum of 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, Media, and Performing Arts department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.