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Jan 17, 2020

Artist Michelle Handelman uses video, live performance and photography to make confrontational works that explore the sublime in its various forms of excess and nothingness. Her background is a study in opposites – raised during the late 60s/early 70s, Michelle split her time between Chicago, where her mother was a fixture in the art world, and Los Angeles, where her father was a player in the counterculture sex industry. Over the years Michelle has traversed both these worlds, developing a body of work that investigates ways of looking at the forbidden and revealing dark, subconscious layers of outsider agency.

In the mid 90s, Michelle directed and produced the feature documentary BloodSisters, an in-depth look at the San Francisco leather dyke scene. In 1999 Michelle collaborated with Industrial Music pioneer Monte Cazazza. Together they built several bodies of work including The Torture Series, the video Hope and the essay The Cereal Box Conspiracy Against the Developing Mind.


"Irma Vep, The Last Breath" 6 minute clip of Zackary Drucker playing Irma Vep. from Michelle Handelman on Vimeo.


Michelle's videos have screened internationally including Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris; ICA, London; MIT List Visual Arts Center; Guangzhou 53 Art Museum; American Film Institute and 3LD Art & Technology Center, NYC. She is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. Her fiction and critical writing appear in several anthologies including Inappropriate Behaviour and Herotica 3 edited by Susie Bright. Her work is in the collection of Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art; Kadist Art Foundation SF/Paris; di Rosa Foundation and Preserve, Napa, California; and Zabludowicz Art Trust, London. Michelle is an Associate Professor in the Film and Media department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City.



Lydia and Michelle discuss all the connective tissue they share, her time spent with her father in Los Angeles, and her many videos and performances. To find out more about Michelle's work check our her website and her Vimeo page.