Sarah Halpern
The Changing Room
October 23 – November 29, 2015 (extended through December 7, by appointment only)
Opening Reception Friday October 23, 6-9pm

Sarah Halpern_Traces

Sarah Halpern, “Traces”, 2015, glue, pencil, and collage on paper, 12 x 12 inches

Installation Views

Microscope Gallery presents The Changing Room, the second solo exhibition at the gallery by Sarah Halpern featuring new works on paper and installation that utilize imagery – both still and moving – from film related sources including classic Hollywood movies and books that were made into movies. Inspired by a joke her father would repeat when family members said they needed “to change” before heading out the door: “Don’t change, I like you just the way you are”, Halpern reflects upon notions of transformation involving identity, society, relationships between the sexes and in the mediums themselves. In both works on paper and moving image, Halpern frees Hollywood characters and scenes from their usual contexts.

In many of the nine works on paper, text passages from a vintage copy of Cornell Woolrich’s novel “The Bride Wore Black” (1940) – also the inspiration for the 1968 François Truffaut movie in which the protagonist repeatedly disguises herself to avenge each of her husband’s murderers – are combined with settings and characters from other iconic works such as John Ford’s “Stagecoach” to create new and alternative identities and story lines. Backs are turned, scenes are duplicated at different scales, and faces, including those of stars Jean Harlow and Bette Davis, have been removed or otherwise obscured through coloring, cut out, scratching or other methods as a way to convey invisibility though paper, allowing them to serve as surfaces for the projection of dreams, expectations, and social concerns of today.

Similarly, Halpern combines text from the 1958 novel “The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and footage from the 1963 movie of the same name directed by Luchino Visconti in her video/16mm film moving image installation “Chapters”. A two and ½ minute hand-processed color film containing shots of the pages of the artist’s vintage copy of the novel as well as reshot footage from the movie projects onto a laptop screen, on which a video of the famously glorious 45-minute ballroom scene is playing.

Elements of dualism and the process of death and regeneration – also referenced in The Leopard famous quote “everything needs to change, so that everything can stay the same” – are echoed in the rotations of the dancers, images repeated on both film and video meeting on a single screen, as well as in the text from the turning pages projected onto the computer’s keyboard. The artist adds: “The story of the disintegrating aristocracy during the time of the Italian Risorgimento is also used as a metaphor for the shifting dominance of one medium over another throughout the last hundred years; from printed books and film, to computers.”

Sarah Halpern, “Chapters”, 2015, 16mm film, single-channel video, laptop, dimensions variable

SARAH HALPERN works with paper, 16mm film, 35mm slides, sound and performance. Her work often finds sources in classic cinema imagery in the form of books or celluloid film, and has been previously shown at The Museum of Moving Image, The Kitchen, Participant Inc, Anthology Film Archives, the New York Film Festival, and Microscope Gallery, among others. She holds a B.A. in Film and Electronic Arts from Bard College, and was a recipient of the 2014 MacDowell Colony Fellowship. Halpern lives and works in Ridgewood, Queens, NY.

The Changing Room is on view Friday October 23 through Sunday November 29. Gallery Hours: Thursday through Monday, 1-6pm. Opening Reception Friday October 23, 6-9pm.

For inquiries please contact the gallery at

Sarah Halpern_Silence

Sarah Halpern, “Silence”, 2015, scratched and erased paper, 4 x 5.5 inches

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