Curated by Irene Revell (Electra) and Nazmia Jamal
NFT 3, BFI Southbank, London
22 March 2009
Electra is proud to present Yvonne Rainer's MURDER and Murder (1996). Rarely screened, MURDER and Murder is Rainer's sixth and final feature length film. Charmingly odd, sharply observed and witty, Rainer's semi-autobiographical work takes as its subject Doris, an artist who comes out as a lesbian in her later years and starts a relationship with Mildred, a successful younger woman. The progress of the relationship is observed and commented upon by two apparitions, Doris' approving mother and a young Mildred, and several interventions by Rainer herself. The 'murder' of the title refers not to any cloak and dagger crime but to silent killers such as homophobia and most significantly breast cancer. Rainer meditates on the subject and uses her own post-mastectomy body to powerful effect.
Whilst produced towards the end of the explosion of a new 'queer' political movement in North America which occurred largely in response to the AIDS crisis, the questions posed by the film are, as with all of Rainer's body of film work, as contemporary as ever. How does the human body become mediated by economics, and different labour markets; how are separate identities at stake in interpersonal relations; why are these questions still needing to be asked?
MURDER and murder will be screened with Trio A (1978), the first part of her much celebrated and epic dance The Mind Is A
Muscle. In this documentation, Rainer herself dances the often-performed section, a much earlier and contrasting exploration,
through the medium of dance rather than narrative feature film, in which Rainer explores her own body in relation to the audience.