French artist Marie Losier is best known for poetic 16mm film portraits of avant-garde musicians and filmmakers that transcend documentary conventions, revealing as much about their subjects as they do about their creator: an image-maker dedicated to analog filmmaking in a digital age, with a boundless urge to create art with others. This mid-career retrospective, featuring work made over the last 15 years, celebrates the recent addition of Losier’s films to the Museum’s collection.
A longtime New York resident, Losier arrived in 1994 to study painting and quickly fell into the orbit of luminaries who would later appear in her pictures: she designed props for Richard Foreman and learned to shoot 16mm with Mike Kuchar at the Millennium Film Workshop (all the while beginning to curate screenings around town). For Losier, these intergenerational connections go hand in hand with an impulse towards cinema’s ability to channel the unfettered spirit of artistic creation and collaboration. Losier’s highly personal body of work, ranging from intimate portraits to rollicking performance films with costumes and sets created by the artist, music videos, and genre-inflected narratives, is unified by her intuitive attention to rhythm and handmade compositions.
Replete with physical comedy reminiscent of silent cinema and gender-bending camp under the star of Jack Smith, Losier’s cinema is, above all, rooted in performance. Each shoot is a live event (or shared experience) in which Losier, handheld Bolex camera in tow, is both participant and creator. The playful costuming and fantastical code-switching coexists with poignant explorations of identity and the body. These themes—most palpable in Losier’s many years filming industrial music pioneer Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and partner Lady Jaye in the making of her prize-winning feature debut—also underlie Losier’s anticipated second feature, Cassandro, the Exotico!, a portrait of the titular lucha libre drag icon, which opens the series in its American premiere.
Organized by Sophie Cavoulacos, Assistant Curator, Department of Film.