Brown Arts

The Listening Takes by Elisabeth Subrin Premieres as Immersive Installation at Bell Gallery, Commissioned by Brown Arts Institute at Brown University

Exhibition presents three portraits of subversive French actress Maria Schneider with a multi-channel sound and video installation exploring cinematic history, trauma, and subjectivity

Providence, R.I., February 6, 2023 — Commissioned by the Brown Arts Institute, acclaimed artist and director Elisabeth Subrin’s film project The Listening Takes debuts as an immersive sound, video, and sculptural installation at Brown University’s David Winton Bell Gallery on February 9. Actresses Manal Issa, Aïssa Maïga and Isabel Sandoval recreate a 1983 French TV interview with Maria Schneider, which takes a turn when she’s asked about the traumatic filming of Last Tango in Paris with Bernardo Bertolucci and Marlon Brando a decade before, exploring the personal and political subjectivity of archival footage and reenactment. Elisabeth Subrin: The Listening Takes is organized by curator Kate Kraczon, Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator of the Brown Arts Institute. Commissioned by the Brown Arts Institute as an installation, the project was first presented in a single channel format as the short film Maria Schneider, 1983, receiving critical acclaim at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and New York Film Festival as well as a César Award nomination in Short-Film Documentary. Now appearing for the first time as an installation that expands Subrin’s sculptural and sonic practice, Elisabeth Subrin: The Listening Takes is on view in Providence February 9 through June 4, 2023.  

“Both a filmmaker and artist, Subrin defies categorization in her practice and in her exploration of narrative and identity. We are honored to have collaborated on the development of this ambitious project and delighted to bring the exhibition to fruition,” said Kate Kraczon, Brown Arts Institute’s Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator. “Creating a space for listening, inquiry, and experimentation is an integral part of enacting progress and a vital part of the Brown Arts Institute mission.”  

The Listening Takes focuses on a 1983 archival video interview of Schneider for the televised series Cinéma Cinémas in which the actress refused to discuss her controversial lead role in the film and the non-consensual scene she was subjected to. Through subtly evolving recreations of the archival footage by three different actresses, the film reimagines the nuances and possibilities of the original interview, in which Schneider shares her perspective on how women are defined within and beyond cinema. The Bell Gallery installation features multiple video projections, spatial audio, and a system of mirrors within which viewers find themselves reflected alongside the camera’s frame, creating moments of fracture between the screen and gallery.

The exhibition decouples Schneider from Last Tango in Paris through a method of cross-historical repetition, creating a space for contemporary conversations regarding sexual misconduct in the workplace through the reinterpreted performances of the pre-#MeToo interview. Collaborating with the three award-winning actresses who portray Schneider—Lebanese actress Manal Issa, Senegalese actress and director Aïssa Maïga, and Filipina actress and director Isabel Sandoval—all of whom Subrin sought out due to their forthright intersectional feminist activism, The Listening Takes explores identity through a regular practice of Subrin’s called “speculative biography,” which fractures and reframes archival material to challenge and unravel dominant narratives of womanhood, portraiture, resilience, and trauma.  

Major support for Elisabeth Subrin’s The Listening Takes is provided by David Winton Bell Gallery/ Brown Arts Institute. Additional support is provided by France 3, the New York State Council for the Arts, the Temple University Vice Provost for the Arts, the Centre National Du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée, and the Fonds LIG/Lesbiennes d’Intérêt Gènéral.  

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About Elisabeth Subrin
Elisabeth Subrin is a New York-based award-winning director and artist who creates works in film, video, photography, and installation. Her critically acclaimed projects explore intersections between cultural history and subjectivity through a feminist lens. Known for her use of re-enactment, Subrin’s previous short films, video art, and installations have screened and exhibited widely in the U.S. and abroad, including at Cannes, Film Society of Lincoln Center, The Vienna Viennale, The Whitney Biennial, and film festivals globally. A Sundance Fellow, Subrin’s 2016 award-winning feature narrative, A Woman, A Part, had its world premiere in competition at The Rotterdam International Film Festival and traveled to festivals throughout Europe, the United States, and Asia. A retrospective of her work as an artist was mounted at the Sue Scott Gallery in New York and portions traveled to MoMA/PS1’s Greater New York;

The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; Le Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, Paris; The Haggerty Museum, Milwaukee; and in a solo exhibition at The Jewish Museum, New York.   

About The Brown Arts Institute (BAI)  
The Brown Arts Institute is a university-wide research enterprise and catalyst for the arts at Brown that creates new work and supports, amplifies, and adds new dimensions to the creative practices of Brown’s arts departments, faculty, students, and community. Through year-round programming, researchfocused courses, initiatives, collaborations, and partnerships, along with rigorous artistic and academic programs, the BAI commissions and presents new work on campus across Providence, Rhode Island, and beyond, from students, faculty, and on-campus arts groups, as well as in collaboration with forwardfocused visiting artists and other performing arts organizations. Learn more at   

About the Bell Gallery   
The David Winton Bell Gallery is Brown's contemporary art gallery and home to an important part of the university's permanent art collection. Founded in 1971, the Gallery hosts three major exhibitions per year, each with associated programming including lectures, performances, and symposia, and maintains a permanent collection of more than 7,000 works of art, dating from the 16th century to the present, with particularly rich holdings in 20th and 21st century works on paper.