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‘CHANCE’ Encounter: Christian Boltanski Weighs Birth and Death at the 2011 Venice Biennale
07:59 pm


Venice Biennale
Christian Boltanski

Dangerous Minds pal Michael Kurcfeld interviewed French artist Christian Boltanski in Paris recently and unwittingly became grist for the artist’s mill, but I’ll let Michael explain:

It’s not every day that a journalist becomes part of a work of art. In a stroke of autobiographical fervor a few years ago Christian Boltanski had sold the rights to his daily life to a wealthy collector, who installed 24/7 live cameras all over his studio at the southern edge of Paris. These tapes become part of a massive unfolding record entitled simply The Life of C.B. Enter one unsuspecting American journalist prepared to shoot an interview there… A French TV crew had just been chastised by the artist for trying to glamorize him with their multi-camera shoot, and he was in ill temper before we began. But he soon became both reflective and jolly, his rueful sense of humor occasionally igniting like a firecracker.

Boltanski is acknowledged to be France’s most important living artist. His dark and prodigious body of work is esteemed by critics and crowds alike, and it seemed high time, at 66, that he represented France at the Venice Biennale. For the task of filling the French pavilion this year, he created an overwhelming jungle-gym of metal pipe and literally streaming video (whizzing through the vast structure as a giant ribbon of black-and-white frames). The images are of day-old infants, photos cut from Polish newspapers that announce births routinely. Every 10 minutes or so, a bell rings and the frames halt, randomly focusing on a single baby. It’s a loud, visceral and claustrophobic encounter with Boltanski’s most recent meditation on long-time fascinations: chance and identity. Chance is both scary and exhilarating.

He’s created a colossal machine that’s a demonic hybrid of printing press and film projector. As architecture, it made me think of Piranesi, a kind of enveloping prison. It exalts the mechanical, by alluding to the Industrial Age, and satirizes it with a whiff of Chaplin’s Modern Times. Chance is interactive: In the chamber just beyond the main hall is a screen that visitors can control with a big button at the entry. Faces sliced into three segments jumpcut at high speed, such that the recombinant photos whirl like a giant slot machine. Or cards being shuffled. Games of chance. Winning and losing. But the work never veers far from the assertion that we all lose in the end… Is Boltanski a pessimist? He’ll say not really, that in fact he’s happier than ever knowing that the world will go on without him. Nor is he a fatalist. To him, nothing is written so fate is an illusion.

Read—and see—more at Huffington Post

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Rule Britannia’ from Derek Jarman’s ‘Jubilee’, 1978

There have been few films as truthful about the state of MerryEngland as Derek Jarman’s Jubilee. Here is a world bought by bankers, sold by politicians, all with public money. A world where everything has its price, and liberty is defined by our Right to Shop. A world best described in the film by the wonderful creation, Borgia Ginz:

“You wanna know my story babe. It’s easy. This is the generation that grew up and forgot to lead their lives. They were so busy watching my endless movie. It’s power babe, power. I don’t create it, I own it. I sucked and sucked and I sucked. The media became their only reality and I owned their world of flickering shadows. BBC. TUC. ITV. ABC. ATV. MGM. KGB. C of E. You name it, I bought them all and rearranged the alphabet. Without me, they don’t exist.”

After its release in 1978, Jubilee was denounced by some of the people who should have supported it, but were horrified by its nihilism. Jarman explained his motivation to the Guardian‘s Nicholas de Jongh:

“We have now seen all established authority, all political systems, fail to provide any solution - they no longer ring true.”

As true today, as it was then.

Here is Jordan as Amyl Nitrite, giving it laldy with her rendition of “Rule Britannia”.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Photo-spread for John Boorman’s ‘Zardoz’, 1974

I read the novelization of John Boorman’s Zardoz when I was about 12. It was a defining moment, as it confirmed my thoughts about the control of religion, the division of class, society’s inequalities and its endemic violence. You could say, it was the start of my adult education. It had extra importance as I’d walked home from school to save the bus fares to buy the book, and after reading it, nothing was ever the same. How could it be? Within its opening pages a flying godhead, Zardoz, has landed and announced to his murderous followers:

“You have been raised up from Brutality, to kill the Brutals who multiply, and are legion. To this end, Zardoz your God gave you the gift of the Gun. The Gun is good!

“The Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Zardoz has spoken.”

When Sean Connery was sent the script, he was “absolutely caught by its originality”, as he told Gordon Gow from Films and Filming in 1974:

“It was one of the best ideas I’d come across for ages…So by the following weekend I was over in Ireland to prepare for filming.

“What gripped me especially was the direction the people in [the script] were taking in the future existence, as opposed to space ships and rockets and all that…[..]...What does interest me is the possible development of society in centuries to come. The way different levels and types evolve in the script is intriguing and refreshing, and could well be true. The fact that people are not going to die, for example.

“Many things are changed by the knowledge you’re not going to die. There’s no need to procreate, therefore it takes away the sexual drives. Today we live in the age of analysis: we can give answers as to why people do things, whether it’s ambition or fighting for power or because they hated their father or their mother - their hangups become a kind of blueprint to their behavior. But if you take that away you get an entirely different concept of human beings.’

Connery hadn’t been Boorman’s first choice, that had been Burt Reynolds, with whom Boorman had scored the major hit Deliverance. Somehow I can’t imagine Reynolds carrying off the thigh high boots or red loin cloth, or exuding the necessary untrammeled masculinity. With the success of Deliverancve, Boorman was given a carte blanche to make what he wanted. He started working on a science fiction script, Zardoz, in 1972, and brought in Bill Stair to “ rationalize the visions that threatened to engulf me.”

Zardoz is certainly rich with ideas, some better developed than others, but all have their own merits. That’s one thing about the best of seventies’ films, they had intelligence behind them, ideas at play, rather than today’s reliance on CGI and anodyne stories.

Set in the 23rd century, where Exterminators trade grain with their god - Zardoz - for guns to exploit and kill. Enter Zed (Connery) who questions why a god would require grain, and sneaks on board the flying godhead to uncover the secret of Zardoz and life beyond the Outlands in the Vortex.

The Outlands: once it was called the good Earth. Now it is the desolate, exhausted, polluted wasteland all the world has become, except for the lush Vortex.

The Eternals: members of the Vortex. Highly privileged scientists and intellectuals, eternally young, who have learned all the Secrets of Life - except one.

The Exterminators: a privileged and physically superior group permitted to breed under strict control to fight the Brutals and support the Vortex.

The Brutals: the last survivors of the dying world outside the Vortex, who live at subsistence level.

The Apathetics: victims of the pursuit of perfection, they are Eternals who have found the strain of immortality too great and live only for the one thing their society denies them.

The Renegades: malicious, embittered offenders in the Vortex who would defy and destroy the establishment - if they could only find it.

Connery explained the film to Gow:

“Then society, a sit always does, starts to fragment into different strata. There are the Apathetics and the Renegades. They are all Eternals, these people, who are going to live forever. The base of all the great learning that the world has accumulated by that stage becomes a Tabernacle, which gives people information as to how to act, like a major computer, a great feed-tank put together by the best minds of the world. But the human condition is such that it still retains anger and other emotions.

“There are areas like oases: each is known as a Vortex. They exist throughout the world on a system of highly democratic rule with guidelines supplied from the Tabernacle. But the Renegades abhor the system and fight it…[..]...On the other hand, the Apathetics are reluctant to do anything at all..the Renegades they’d really like to die, to get out.

“Beyond the Vortex areas, there are the Outlands: very barren. The inhabitants there are called the Brutals, they’re rather like our present society, not very civilized. The god Zardoz gives the Brutals something to worship, the gun. the penis is evil, the gun is good. The Brutals are necessary to each Vortex, because they’ve been taught to provide wheat and other food substances…[..]...This is where the character I play comes in. I hide in the head…[..]...and set about destroying the society.”

For your delectation, here is the original photo preview for Zardoz, which appeared in Films and Filming in March 1974.
More pics from ‘zardoz’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Captain Beefheart performs The Beatles’ Yesterday on Dutch TV 1974
02:52 pm


Captain Beefheart

Well sort of, anyways. The late great Don Van Vliet does a brief, throaty, whistled rendition with organ accompaniment of the Beatles’ standard which is about as random a moment as anything I can imagine. It’s the cherry on top of this amusing and good natured 1974 Dutch TV appearance which also features a mime-tastic version of “Upon The My-Oh-My.”

Thanks to Ace Farren Ford !

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
Ohio Republicans shamelessly grovel to unions (why ‘we’ did win in Wisconsin)

The day after the first leg of the Wisconsin recall elections, I thought the number of “We won!” emails coming from the various lefty and labor organizations I support seemed a little odd. Did we win? It sure didn’t look that way to me. If “we” would have won, the tallies would have been different, right?

Maybe they were half right. Wisconsin Democrats did, after all, oust two Republican senators in two of the very, very few successful recall races ever held in American history. Pity the other two races didn’t fall their way, but it’s certain that what happened in Wisconsin awakened an awful lot of people to what was going on in their state, the role of the Koch brothers in rightwing AstroTurf politics there and just how aggressive and vicious the GOP can get when they are in the majority in a legislative body.

The Republican majority now hinges on one vote in Wisconsin. Personally, I’d rate the glass more than half-full considering the power math of less than a year ago. There is little doubt that Democrats will retake the legislature next year.

The collective bargaining rights issue highlighted by the recall election in Wisconsin, as I’ve maintained here, has never been merely a statewide matter. It’s a national issue of great importance to the future of this country’s middle-class families. Wisconsin was the flash point. The first battle in a longer war.

When I stopped and thought about it, I realized what HAD been gained in Wisconsin and this is now coming much better into focus as Ohio Governor John Kasich and the Republican party seek to back-walk the deeply unpopular anti-labor bill SB 5—it’s not a law yet despite the GOP’s best efforts—and are asking Ohio Democrats and labor unions to withdraw a November referendum on it. The public opinion is decidedly against the Republicans and polling just a little over two months from the November 8 vote shows an overwhelming 54% to 36% gulf in favor of rejecting the bill.

With this much Republican blood in the water, why would Ohio Democrats be stupid enough to withdraw the referendum? AS IF the Republicans would ever pay them the same courtesy! It’s hilarious to watch Kasich say this shit! So craven! So… Republican.

So ridiculous!

I love watching a Republican grovel, don’t you?

Kasich and the Ohio Republicans have been knee-capped and they damn well know it. Working families across Ohio owe Wisconsin progressives their gratitude. We all do.

Good people of Wisconsin: You lit what might be a long fuse, as Rachel Maddow eloquently pointed out on her show last night:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Rick Perry on the back of a pickup truck
12:51 pm


Rick Perry
Pickup truck

Melody, a friend of mine here in Texas, sent me this photo.  A Facebook friend of hers took it in Fort Worth the other day and it’s a sign that not all Texans are buying into the Perry as Saviour myth. And Fort Worth is ostensibly Perry country.

Perry’s gonna have a rough ride, even in the Lone Star state.


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Pint-Sized Preachers

Meet Kanon Tipton, pint-sized preacher. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this short video clip from last night’s National Geographic special is worth a million.

Still only a pre-schooler, Kanon Tipton takes the pulpit at his family’s church and like a seasoned evangelist fervently preaches the gospel, mopping his forehead, shouting, waving his arms, the congregation hanging on his every word. But he’s just 4-years-old. NGC’s Pint-Sized Preachers goes inside the controversial world of child evangelists to follow two rising-stars and one established child minister as they spread God’s word and bring congregations to their feet.

Obviously this kid is just parroting religious gibberish—he’s not really saying anything particular here. It’s just Southern-fried pulpit word-salad. I have no idea why these people seem to think they’re getting something out of it.

Then again, it’s the same shit adult Pentecostals preach. Pretty much EXACTLY the same thing.

Thank you, Kevin Smith!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Landlord to Warhol: No more parties!
10:20 am


Andy Warhol

In a 1965 letter, Andy Warhol’s landlord asks him to “keep it down.” This image came from Johan Kugelberg’s VU coffee table book, The Velvet Underground: New York Art (Rizzoli).

Via Letters of Note

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Jimmy Valiant: The Christian James Bond
09:04 am


Jimmy Valiant

“Turns out there was this Senator at the Capital, causing a ruckus.”

Meet “Jimmy Valiant,” the Christian James Bond. Jimmy Valiant: Scions of Danger is a new Christian action flick funded via Kickstarter and produced in San Antonio, Texas. This totally looks like shit:


For too long, Christian films have been stereotyped because of clichéd stories, bad acting, and shoddy production values. The idea for Jimmy Valiant: Scions of Danger grew out of a desire to challenge these stereotypes, and to raise the bar for independent Christian filmmaking by creating an action-packed, thrilling, and visually compelling film that honors God in both the process as well as the final product.

Second, we wanted to utilize the project as a training and discipleship opportunity for young men and women interested in filmmaking — without compromising the quality or the integrity of the project in the process.

Finally, we desired to tackle a genre that has been largely overlooked by Christian filmmakers: the action/thriller film.


For over half a century, the action/thriller genre has discipled generations of young men, who have found their role models in such notable action series as James Bond, Rambo, Terminator, Mission Impossible, and the Jason Bourne films. Like many young boys, the action/thriller genre was a favorite of ours growing up (and still is, to tell the truth). Regretfully, however, this important genre has been largely overlooked by independent Christian filmmakers.

We believe that independent Christian filmmaking can take advantage of some of the unique archetypes and themes associated with the thriller genre to communicate powerful biblical truths. Truths like responsibility, loyalty, courage, obedience, proper jurisdictional roles, family unity, justice, and forgiveness — without all of the negative elements often associated with the typical Hollywood thriller film.

Here’s the trailer for Jimmy Valiant: Scions of Danger. THIS is acting. Love the regional accents!

Via Showing Christ’s Love

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Have you ever had sex with Rick Perry?’ ad appears in Austin Chronicle
08:41 am


Rick Perry

This election cycle doesn’t seem like it’s going to disappoint!

Via Salon

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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