Critics’ Picks

Bruce LaBruce, LA ZOMBIE, 2010, still from a color film in HD, 65 minutes. Installation view.

Bruce LaBruce, LA ZOMBIE, 2010, still from a color film in HD, 65 minutes. Installation view.


Bruce LaBruce

Peres Projects
Karl-Marx-Allee 82
January 30–April 24, 2010

Francois Sagat, the star of Bruce LaBruce’s latest film and a series of monochromatic silk-screened portraits in his exhibition “LA ZOMBIE: The film that would not die,” has a gladiator physique and tattooed scalp that on first glance seem at odds with the usual flesh eater’s starved silhouette. But the French-Arab gay porn star’s sensitive face sets him apart from his role as the unseeing zombie obsessed with satiating unquenchable desires.

In the director’s sixty-five-minute film, LA ZOMBIE, 2010, Sagat appears as both an uncommonly comely homeless man scavenging for trash and an electric-blue zombie who finds murdered men and then penetrates their wounds with his massive pointed penis. After he ejaculates blood, the men are resurrected as fellow zombies. The young man who picks him up hitchhiking in the opening scene and whose heart he pumps after a fatal car crash sits on the wreckage lovingly and mournfully watching Sagat dress himself to leave him. The moment establishes Sagat as a romantic character, akin to the melancholy vampire rather than the amoral and greedy zombies who typically inhabit the genre.

By transforming Sagat into a mutant of his genre, LaBruce humanizes the actor and creates an odd but compellingly optimistic view of mankind. Those familiar with George A. Romero’s films will be particularly aware that we might be in the throes of a zombie society that mindlessly devours everything in sight. Even our appetite for Twilight and other vampire-themed pop is evidence of rampant consumer lust. But Sagat’s sensitive zombie seems to possess greater depth and existential self-awareness, more even than the mortal businessman whose dead body he defiles.