Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 7pm
Cecelia Condit's Possibly in Michigan + Jim Trainor's The Fetishist

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Possibly in Michigan, Cecelia Condit, 1983, digital projection, 12 mins
The Fetishist, Jim Trainor, 1997, 16mm, 38 mins

Light Industry probes the dark heart of the Midwest with two experiments in true crime: Cecelia Condit’s fractured fairy tale Possibly in Michigan and Jim Trainor’s animated profile The Fetishist.

A classic work of 1980s video art, Possibly in Michigan has recently gained a new life online, circulating first as a weird YouTube find that exploded on Reddit, then later via TikTok, becoming a viral sensation over the summer amongst the platform’s teenage users, who uploaded their own lip-syncs to its memorably bizarre soundtrack. The piece is based on a real-life account of how her friend once dated a man later discovered to be a cannibalistic serial killer (he murdered women and stored their body parts in his apartment). Condit renders this ghastly scenario with ironic relish, reframing it as a lo-fi-synth-musical-cum-revenge-fantasy in which two perfume-shopping protagonists are stalked by the ominous presence of a masked figure before ultimately making a meal out of him.

Trainor’s The Fetishist, meanwhile, presents scenes from the life of William Heirens, dubbed the “Lipstick Killer” by Chicago newspapers in the 1940s for scrawling a message on the wall of a victim's home. “For heaven’s sake,” it spelled out in a smear of cosmetics, “catch me before I kill more: I cannot help myself.” Heirens’s crimes were also the basis for Fritz Lang’s 1956 late-noir While the City Sleeps, but rather than spinning a thrilling yarn around the homicides, Trainor imagines Heirens’s private moments through a series of dreamlike vignettes. Taking cues from a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1946, Trainor depicts the juvenile Heirens’s pathological obsessions and behavioral abnormalities—his penchant for stealing women’s underwear, his compulsion to break into apartments and defecate in them.

The Fetishist took Trainor eleven years to complete. He used black Sharpies on thousands of individual sheets of paper and worked without a storyboard, improvising actions as he drew and later editing down two hours of animated footage to the film’s final length of just under 40 minutes. “I remember thinking the only important thing was to get an image down quickly, and animate quickly so that a certain emotional quality would be transmitted into the drawings,” Trainor told an interviewer. “I got interested in a process of rote, uncritical tracing, where my drawings would get bent out of shape without much attempt to control them...I like Sharpie pens because the thick line, though unforgiving, goes down quickly; I can draw lots of pictures quickly. I stopped being concerned about their awkwardness.” These strategies, he explained, allowed the violent disturbances of Heirens’s psyche to be articulated through trembling visual designs, a fitting marriage of style and subject.

Tickets - $8, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 6:30pm.