The beauteous Kira, heroine of the disco fable Xanadu, is imagined in a standoff with Carrie, the scapegoat turned persecutor. From each film Brice Dellsperger extracts a scene and appropriates it via a destabilisation, a formal vibration that generates a double.
Dellsperger began his Body Double series in 1995, borrowing the title readymade from the film by Brian de Palma. From one film to the next and from remake to remake he explores the doubling process, with the roles being played by the same actor and the actors often turned into actresses. In this play on multiplicity he functions like a prism traversed by a ray of light and then emitting its spectre.
For Body Double 32, Dellsperger takes the second scene from Carrie(1). Played by androgynous model Alex Wetter, a happy gang of girls are whooping it up under the showers in a high school locker room where the rows of lockers seem to double up and form a space-time loop. The loop comes to an end as, one by one, they disappear into the steam and turn into infinite variations on one of their number: Carrie. Still under the shower, Carrie herself seems unaware of what is going on around her. With a touch of sensuality the camera suggests that the child is becoming a woman. Terror-stricken, Carrie sees that her hands are covered with blood.
For Body Double 35, Dellsperger takes the second scene from Xanadu(2). Played by choreographer/dancer François Chaignaud, a sprightly group of Muses emerges dancing from a painting on the wall. At an exhibition(3) at the Swiss Institute in 2016 Dellsperger reproduced the wall painting and in a strange switch the creation of the set precedes the idea of the film, even becoming its trigger. The entire equilibrium of things seems to be affected: the shots are reversed and Kira(4) dances backwards until she becomes one with the wall. The loop is closed.
Dellsperger’s idea seems fundamentally antinomic: Kira vs. Carrie. Kira is bathed in light, Carrie only in mist; Kira spreads love and inspiration, Carrie only death; Kira is the daughter of a God, Carrie dances at Satan’s ball.
At Air de Paris, Body Double 32 and Body Double 35 are shown alternately on the same screen, seemingly linked by a kind of interdependence: are not the names Kira and Carrie phonetic anagrams? Do not the rays of light show through the mist? And on the other side of the mirror, might not Kira be Carrie’s double?
1 The cult movie directed by Brian de Palma, released in 1976.
2 Directed by Robert Greenwald, released in 1980. A critical and commercial flop that marked the end of the disco era.
3 FADE IN: INT. ART GALLERY – DAY, Swiss Institute, New York USA, 03.03-19.05.2016
4 The embodiment of Terpsichore, the Muse of dance in Greek mythology.