What’s an artist who regularly dives deep into queer dystopias to do while stuck in quarantine? In addition to checking in remotely with her real-life friends, Michelle Handelman also found a way to visit with the characters that populated her films of the past decade. The result was exhibited online in June at the New York gallery signs and symbols: “These Unruly and Ungovernable Selves,” a six-minute video collaged primarily from pre-existing footage, including one eerily prescient scene of an old lady bewildered at her isolation in a futuristic ticket booth. Everyone, including the old lady, who happens to be none other than drag legend Flawless Sabrina, remains remarkably sultry, edgy and punk, despite the apocalyptic situation we all currently find ourselves in. One gets the feeling they’ve known it all along and, while most folks have been busy leading “normal” lives, they’ve been developing tactics for dealing creatively with a world in which “we are being asked to do things that are tearing at our souls,” when “separateness was an achievement,” our days filled with “the jangly nervous tension of doing nothing” and a “wish to obscure the reality of death.” These and other unsettlingly apposite phrases appear in between clips. Together they add up to a production that feels most of all like a trailer for the horror movie that is life right now, just a little bit sexier.
—Lori Waxman 2020-07-27 9:12 AM