As part of Vogue Fashion’s Night Out, I directed and produced an event intended to pull visitors into the Cornerhouse gallery space to both experience the associated exhibition, inspired by the classic film Double Indemnity albeit consisting of contemporary artworks curated by Michael Connor, but also as a standalone, overtly relaxed sociable occasion that lifted the perceived onus upon any one individual to be ‘fashionable’ in favour of approaching the subject from a less elitist angle.
Featuring Manchester’s underground performance collective The Sisters Gorgeous plus guest D Lucille Campbell of glam electro-goth outfit Die Hexen, the galleries hosted a life drawing drop-in and photography session with the varied mix of male, female and trans-models, painted, styled and clad in a fully monochrome palette for a DIY evening inspired by their favourite film noir icons.
Visitors were encouraged to pick up pencils in order to capture razor-sharp cheekbones, or, if they had a camera or even a camera-phone, to step into a domestic mise-en-scène, populated with vintage furniture courtesy of The Library Theatre stores, to instruct and manipulate the living mannequins into a pose of their own choosing. Throughout the evening there were lip-syncs of classic noir monologues as the statues momentarily spring to life.
Vintage 78 DJs were on hand to provide a ‘banned’ soundtrack of risque 1940s and 1950s original shellac and vinyl records, using restored gramophones. Manchester’s storytelling collective, Tales of Whatever, also delivered live, stand-up accounts within the galleries, sharing contemporary first-person tales teased from their memories by the exhibition themes.