Magazine article Artforum International

Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz Marcelle Alix

Magazine article Artforum International

Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz Marcelle Alix

Article excerpt

Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz's exhibition "Salomania" Focused on the infatuation that performers and authors have had with the New-Testament figure of Salome. Her veiled sexuality and exoticism have often been perceived as arousing a perverse desire, itself a manifestation of a preoccupation with the dark relationship between Eros and Thanatos, epitomized by the trading of her sensual dance for the bead of John the Baptist. Oscar Wilde's controversial 1891 play Salome was the origin of much of the dancer's modern mythology and is one of Boudry and Lorenz's main references, which also include passages from Flaubert's short story "Herodias" as well as from his Egyptian journal, and particularly the Russian-born actress and him producer Alla Nazimova's bizarre 1923 silent-screen adaptation of Wilde's play, realized in Hollywood with a cast rumored to have been made up exclusively of gay and lesbian actors. Presenting such an intriguing matrix of historical sources, the artists treat Salome as a composite "image-desire"--using a term they have borrowed from Elspeth Probyn's book Outside Belongings (1996)--standing for a mental projection of strong and often contradictory feelings, rather than as a specific character.

At Marcelle Alix, the upstairs gallery functioned as a sort of a cinema foyer dominated by twelve gigantic Art Deco fans modeled on those in Nazimova's film, made of wood, plywood, black rubber, and ostrich feathers. Displayed on a wall were framed reproductions of old photographs with numerous historical personages in them, including the director, choreographer, and dancer Aida Overton Walker and the dancer and costume and light designer Loie Fuller, in addition to Flaubert, Wilde, and Nazimova. A short text accompanying each photograph explained its subject's involvement with the story of Salome and put it in the context of his or her private life, while often mentioning the evidence of historical misinterpretations. …

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