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Lives of Performers
Institute of Contemporary Arts
A person in a dress leans back, staring at the ceiling, their body lit and silhouetted by a spotlight
Lives of Performers, dir. Yvonne Rainer, USA 1972, 90 min., English

Rainer’s debut feature film announced both her shift from the world of dance towards avant-garde cinema, and what would become a career-long interest in ‘women’s stories’ and the teasing machinations of melodrama.

The familiar tale of a man who can’t choose between two women and makes everyone suffer is reworked by Rainer as a jolting and radically austere, anti-illusionist spectacle, comprising dance rehearsals, photography, tableaux and a flurry of fragments of text, both on screen and not. Off-camera, multiple voices can be heard – including that of cinematographer Babette Mangolte, who was at the time just beginning work with a young Chantal Akerman.

This is the UK Premiere of the 4K restoration of the work. 

The screening on Thu 17 August 2023 was followed by a live online Q&A with Yvonne Rainer, hosted by Oliver Fuke.
Oliver Fuke is an independent researcher and curator who has worked on various figures connected with experimental and political film, including Trevor Mathison, Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen and Yvonne Rainer.
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