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Rivane Neuenschwander 'Alfabetico Erotico'

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13 JULY 2015

Rivane Neuenschwander 'Alfabetico Erotico'


“You think no one understands / Listen to my hands” - Working in collaboration with artist Rivana Neuenschwander, PG senior editor Jesse Watt and PG director Jeremy Valender shot and produced this four minute short which uses two models speaking in sign language to describe the surrealists’ erotic alphabet, alongside some subtle but sophisticated in-camera tricks.

New frontiers of surprise and imagination through a naughty adaptation of the erotic hand signaling. 

(Text from the Stephen Friedman Gallery)


Rivane Neuenschwander featured 'Erotisme' at this year’s Art Basel Unlimited.  

This erotic hand signaling chart, the Surrealists' risqué adaptation of the standard American Sign Language manual alphabet, was a provocative method used by the artists and poets of that school to break through conventional thought and behavior to a deeper truth. In the film, Neuenschwander directs the protagonist to form the various gestures with their hand, animating and celebrating the Surrealists' intention.

Neuenschwander, filming the hands in black and white and using dramatic lighting, has created a stage for them to perform; the subject moves gracefully into the various positions as if performing a choreographed dance or ritual. The footage is imbued with a theatrical sensibility to form a delicate, subtle and powerfully appealing piece. The hand forms a clear shadow on the wall behind it, which upon closer inspection, appears to be that of a second hand mimicking the actions of the first.

What did the surrealists intend as a singular practice has become a game for two, a form of mating ritual. This frisson increases the sensual atmosphere, introducing an encounter between two forms, which heightens the original intention for the alphabet.

The text descriptions for each gesture are interspersed throughout the footage, signaling which action has been completed. 

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