Exquisite Corpse

By Tran T. Kim-Trang
January 1, 1994

Screening program notes from Scratching the Belly of the Beast catalogue, 1994

Exquisite Corpse, as I've played it, is a game where one person begins by drawing the head of a body on a piece of paper. Once this head is drawn, that part of the paper is folded over and then passed on. Each person draws the next part of the body working from the head down. Once the drawing is completed, the paper is unfolded to reveal a bizarre configuration of the human body. As the Exquisite Corpse game suggests, there are various ways of assembling a body. Borrowing from the disparities of an exquisite corpse, this program is composed of works in pairs that resemble the paired symmetry of the body, but pairs, too, that illustrate how asymmetrical a body can be, especially one wrought of play.

The program begins with Chick Strand's Fever Dream, a film of intoxicating bcauty, inspiring desire and touch. Dana Valentino's Untitled is a lyrical "poem" on bleeding, reminisccnt of Judy Chicago's Red Flag, but with a wicked mood. The next pair of animation works are both delightful and sharp; the first is Christine Panushka's The Sum of Them-providing a dreamscape of body types and motions that is, in Gene Youngblood's words, "at once sensuous and cerebral." The Sum of Them is followed by Marlise Malkames and Gregg Nations' Mr. Wonderful', a Monty Python-esque Super 8 piece about penis envy and the taboo of showing male nudity on the screen. We then look at two works generated on the computer, one by the well-known furniture designers, Charles and Ray Eames, and the other by a graphic designcr, Jennifer Engelmann.

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