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Atelier 105, en résidence / April 25, 2022

RELAX BE CRUEL BY MARION SCEMAMA

Filmed in 1983 in New York at Pier 34, this film takes place at an abandoned storehouse which was left at the mercy of the elements and open to anonymous homosexual encounters and to having its walls covered with gigantic frescos by underground artists.
This place breathed transgression, desire, danger.
Shot on black & white 16mm film with an Äaton camera, the film tells the story of a marginal homeless punk woman, a would-be artist who squats in the storehouse. It depicts chance encounters with other marginal characters, each more broke than the last, and intriguing sexual scenes witnessed by the main character. Shot within the gaping spaces of industrial ruins cradled by the lapping waters of the Hudson, at the feet of the extravagant World Trade Center towers, this film is the only surviving document of the Pier. Demolished soon after, this cathedral-like place has become, over the years, an emblem of the exhuberance of the underground 1980s scene, the last space of freedom before the Aids era.
Through the years and life's surprises, such as a fire, the negatives and the workprint of this film have been altered or lost. This new edit has been made using the sound recordings, chutes and unused rushes left from that time, giving free rein to reflection: what to do with what one has? A fundamental question, in life and in art...

Directed by Marion Scemama, edited by François Pain, sound design by François Marcelly-Fernandez.

Marion Scemama is a Paris-based photographer and filmmaker. She lived in New York from 1981 to 1986. There, she met the artist David Wojnarowicz, with whom she collaborated on a number of videos and photo series. In 2018, she directed a documentary essay film on David Wojnarowicz for the latter's retrospective held at the Whitney Museum. This film was selected for the Berlinale in 2019, where it was nominated for Best Documentary, and was subsequently shown at various museums (Reina Sofia, Mudam, Musée du Jeu de Paume), institutions and American and European festivals. Marion Scemama is represented in Paris by New Galérie.

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