Yvonne Rainer, Part 2

The Man Who Envied Women (1985)

Curated by Cassandra Guan

Poster design by Cassandra Guan

Poster design by Cassandra Guan

This screening is the second installment of a two-part event with Yvonne Rainer. It is preceded on Wednesday, April 6 with a screening of Privilege (1990) and lecture by Rainer. Details here.

Magic Lantern presents a rare 16mm screening of The Man Who Envied Women, a 1985 feminist psychodrama and “theory film” by the legendary dancer-choreographer Yvonne Rainer. The film loosely chronicles the breakup of a heterosexual relationship between a complacent academic and a precarious artist; meanwhile it explores a range of far-flung issues like the gentrification of New York City and the political situation of Central America. Foregrounding the effects of language and representation, Rainer exposes hidden forms of conflict within the rarified spheres of high culture in an incisive critique that is also disturbingly contemporary. The Lamps, a short video by Shelly Silver, precedes the feature presentation. A post-screening Q&A with Yvonne Rainer will be moderated by Cassandra Guan.

TRT: approx. 129 mins.

Shelly Silver, The Lamps, 2015, 4 mins, color, sound, digital video
The Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven né Plotz, was an unsung member of the Dada Movement. A poet, artist, runaway, and all around public provocateur; she actively did not fit into her historical moment, and like most misfits, suffered for it. As with many women artists throughout history, her cultural legacy has been obscured and in some instances appropriated into the oeuvres of better-known male peers. The Lamps details her trip to the Naples Archeological Museum in the early 1900’s where she breaks into ‘Il Gabinetto Segretto,’ a secret room filled with erotic objects from Pompeii” (Video Data Bank).

Yvonne Rainer, The Man Who Envied Women, 1985, 125 mins, color, sound, 16mm
“Around a familiar theme—the breakup of a marriage—Rainer constructs an honest, graceful and wickedly funny account of a self-satisfied womanizer, Jack Deller, the man ‘who almost knows too much about women'” (Zeigeist Films).

“Its very title a sphinxlike provocation, The Man Who Envied Women is a sometimes confessional, often jokey stream of consciousness that alternates between the first and third persons, incorporating texts by Fredric Jameson and Raymond Chandler as well as chunks of urbane cocktail party chatter…. The streets of Rainer’s Manhattan buzz with witty oneliners; her characters devote themselves to puzzling out the nuances of French poststructuralist theory. In one of the film’s set pieces, two intellectuals get so tangled up in a discussion of Foucaultian power relations their mutual seduction almost never comes to pass. Despite some discrete incidents, however, The Man Who Envied Women is less a narrative than a field in which, to go no further than the precredit sequences, elements as disparate as Un Chien Andalou and Bette Davis, Penguin Cafe Orchestra and KAL 007, City Council hearings and psychoanalysis are rubbed against each other in the hope of drawing sparks…. In Rainer’s films, sound and image, as well as men and women, nearly always operate at cross-purposes…. she’s the most influential American avant-garde filmmaker of the past dozen years” (J. Hoberman, Village Voice).

Presented in conjunction with the Department of Modern Culture and Media (Brown), the Department of Theater Arts & Performance Studies (Brown), the Pembroke Center for Teaching & Research on Women, Mellon Dance Colloquium, and the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center.