Tag Archives: Michelle Handelman

High Heels and Leather Masks: The Questions at Hand

High Heels and Leather Masks - Session Program. February 9, 2011.

How do you create language around a subject that inherently defies single definitions?  Or better yet, how do you speak about something that usually elicits grunts and groans and shrieks from your audience?  How can an image have so much power to the point where people call for your shows to be shut down in order to “keep your work from ‘polluting’ the minds of the public”?

These are the questions that Michelle Handelman posed to the audience, speaking artists and curators during the session High Heels and Leather Masks: When Fetish Becomes Art and Art Becomes Life just after introducing Lia Gangitano, Genesis Breyer P. Orridge, Zackary Drucker and A.L. Steiner.  While this session appeared to be shocking to some audience members (a woman walked out when they showed a part from A.L. Steiner’s Community Action Center), the panelists insisted that this wasn’t the intention.  Works like Community Action Center are meant to be viewed as celebratory works that use the body as medium and make an effort to redefine and relocate our understanding of ourselves and where those understandings are stemmed from.  No one ever said that breaking habits and tearing down the walls of our conditioned understandings would be easy, and these artists and curator definitely prove that beautifully with the bodies of work and exhibitions showcased during the session.

As I have more time to reflect on this session, I will add to my recount.  Until then, enjoy some photos from the discussion.

Session panelists: (front) Lia Gangitano, Genesis Breyer P. Orridge, Michelle Handelman, (back) Zachary Drucker and A.L. Steiner. Feb. 9, 2011. (Image Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

The audience waits for the session to start as panelists talk among each other. February 9, 2011. (Image Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

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