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Double Indemnity: The Desired And The Desiring

Cornerhouse's provocative, dark and steamy exhibition

Published on September 12th 2013.

Double Indemnity: The Desired And The Desiring

CONTEMPORARY artworks including new commissions by Ming Wong and Anicka Yi will feature in a new group exhibition at Cornerhouse, Double Indemnity.

As she speaks, she removes her clothing, remarking "I'm not a person today. I'm an object in an art work."

The exhibition inter-weaves images and text from Billy Wilder’s classic film with a selection of photography, video, painting and installation artworks.

Curated by Michael Connor and staged across all three of Cornerhouse’s galleries, the show will explore questions posed by the film through recent and new work by a selection of high-profile artists - including Sophie Calle, Jenny Holzer, Ming Wong, Anicka Yi, Andrea Fraser and Frances Stark.

Billy Wilder’s film tells the story of insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray).

During a routine sales call he meets married housewife Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) and they begin an affair, coming up with a plot to sell life insurance to her husband before killing him.

To pull this off Neff must withstand the scrutiny of keen-eyed actuary Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), a man he admires and even loves.

The exhibition has been organised as if Walter Neff were its audience, 'offering new insights into the character and his responsibility for what happens in the film. It will make visible and subvert the power relationship between a desiring (particularly male) viewer and the desired object, with still images from the film introducing each section'.

The press release describing Gallery 1 in the exhibition gives a good representation of the type of thing visitors can expect. 

An image of Neff meeting Dietrichson – in many ways the archetypal femme fatale – will accompany works in Gallery 1, in which the artist steps into the role of ‘object of desire’.  

In Lessons 1-10 by Laurel Nakadate, the artist models suggestively for a balding, middle-aged man who draws her portrait. Hito Steyerl went in search of a bondage photograph of herself taken in Japan 15 years earlier, making the video Lovely Andrea (2002) to document her search.

The gallery will also include Sophie Calle’s work The Shadow (1981), in which she has herself followed by a private detective, and Andrea Fraser’s performance Official Welcome, shown as a single-channel video, in which the artist delivers lines distilled from speeches given at events like art openings. As she speaks, she removes her clothing, remarking "I'm not a person today. I'm an object in an art work."

Double Indemnity (curated by Michael Connor) Cornerhouse, 70 Oxford Street, Manchester M1 5NH, UK 14 September 2013–5 January 2014. Closed Monday. 0161 200 1500. www.cornerhouse.org

Ming Wong, After Chinatown

Ming Wong, After Chinatown

Desire festers, still from the Wilder filmDesire festers, still from the Wilder film

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