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Why Francis Bacon destroyed his portrait of Cecil Beaton
07.02.2014
10:41 am

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Art

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Francis Bacon
Cecil Beaton


“Selfies” by Cecil Beaton and Francis Bacon

When I was young, I always enjoyed reading tales of the meetings between artists and writers and the creative impact their association brought. Whether Van Gogh and Gauguin, Morecambe and Wise or Kerouac and Burroughs. It inspired me to imagine my own speculative tales of fruitful encounters that mixed fact and fiction. One involved Sherlock Holmes returning from his final encounter with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls and making his way across Europe to Paris, where he chanced upon the exiled Oscar Wilde. I decided the two would team-up to investigate a series a bloody murders carried out across the city by none-other-than Jack (perhaps now Jacques?) the Ripper, who had escaped to the city from London. It could make an interesting book, the involvement of a fictional detective used as a cypher to give a biography of Wilde’s final days together with an investigation into the possible identity of the Ripper.

But one hardly has to look far for such inspirations—a three-act play could be written from the meetings between the celebrated photographer, designer and diarist Cecil Beaton and artist Francis Bacon.

In the late 1950s, Beaton asked Bacon to paint his portrait. He had liked his painting of Sainsbury, the art collector, and had always found the artist “most interesting, refreshing and utterly beguiling”.

Beaton had been good friends with Bacon for some time, first hearing of him through their mutual acquaintance, artist Graham Sutherland, who said:

‘[Bacon] seems to have a very special sense of luxury. When you go to him for a meal, it is unlike anyone else’s. It is all very casual and vague; there is no timetable; but the food is wonderful. He produces an enormous slab of the best possible Gruyère cheese covered with dewdrops, and then a vast bunch of grapes appears.’

Beaton described his first meeting with Bacon in his diary:

When I met Francis we seemed to have an immediate rapport. I was overwhelmed by his tremendous charm and understanding. Smiling and painting simultaneously, he seemed to be having such a good time. He appeared extraordinarily healthy and cherubic, apple-shiny cheeks, and the protruding lips were lubricated with an unusual amount of saliva. His hair was bleached by sun and other aids. His figure was incredibly lithe for a person of his age and occupation, wonderfully muscular and solid. I was impressed with his ‘principal boy’ legs, tightly encased in black jeans with high boots. Not a pound of extra flesh anywhere.

Of all the qualities Beaton most admired about Bacon it was his independence he liked best, “being able to live in exactly the way he wished.” He was also impressed by the artist’s “aloofness from the opinion of others.”

An arrangement was made for Bacon to paint Beaton’s portrait in 1959, at his London studio in Overstrand Mansions, Prince of Wales Drive, Battersea.

Francis started to work with great zest, excitedly running backwards and forwards to the canvas with gazelle-springing leaps—much toe bouncing. He said he how enthusiastic he was at the prospect of the portrait which he said would show me with my face in tones of pink and white. He did not seem interested in my keeping still, and so I enjoyed looking around me at the incredible mess of his studio—a converted bedroom no doubt: so unlike the beautiful, rather conventional ‘artist’s abode’ that he worked in in South Kensington when I first knew him! Here the floor was littered in a Dostoevsky shambles of discarded paints, rags, newspapers and every sort of rubbish, while the walls and window curtains were covered with streaks of black and emerald green paint.

Francis was funny in many ways, slightly wicked about pretentious friends, and his company gave me pleasure. The only slight anxiety I felt was that there might be some snag which would interrupt the sittings that were to follow. Sure enough, a telegram arrived putting me off the next appointment; indeed, for anyone less tenacious than myself, there would never have been another sitting.

Time passed, but no further mention was made of the portrait, until Beaton found an opportunity to ask Bacon “if he’d hate to go on with the painting?” A new date was settled for a return to the studio, where Beaton was placed in a kitchen chair and told to turn his his head this way, further, further, ah, yes, that’s it.

Francis started to work with energy, but he seemed to look harassed, not at all happy. I asked: ‘Would you prefer if I looked more this way?’ ‘No—it’s fine—and I think if it comes off, I’ll be able to do it quickly. The other [portrait] didn’t start off well—but this is fine.’ Would I mind his exhibiting the canvas as the Marlborough [Bacon’s dealers] were screaming at him for more pictures?

Bacon was recovering from having a tempestuous time in Tangiers, where his lover had badly beaten him, knocking out one of his teeth, “My face is an appalling mess,” he said.

Occasionally Francis would sit down on a old chair from which the entrails were hanging and which had been temporarily covered with a few French magazines and newspapers. His pose reminded me of a portrait of Degas. He curved his head sideways and looked at his canvas with a beautiful expression in his eyes. His plump, marble-like hands were covered with blue-green paint. He said he thought painting portraits was the most interesting thing he could ever hope to do: ‘If only I can do them! The important thing is to put the person down as he appears to your mind’s eye. The person must be there so that you can check up on reality—but not be lead by it, not be its slave. To get the essence without being positive about the factual shapes—that’s the difficulty. It’s so difficult that it’s almost impossible! But that’s what I’m trying to do. I think I’m closer to it than I have ever been before.’

Bacon was becoming “even more renowned” and there was an incredible demand for his work. The sittings continued, until at last one day Bacon stopped, cocked his head, looked at the portrait and said, “I’m very pleased with this portrait. I think it’s going to be all right: one of the best things I’ve done. Next time you’re here, I’ll show it to you because it doesn’t need much more work on it. When they go well, they go very quickly.”

Francis opened the door, smiled and said: ‘The portrait’s finished! I want you to sit in that chair over there and look at it.’ I walked towards Francis’s degutted chair in the corner, not glancing at the canvas on the way. I turned round square and sat to get the full effect. It was as well that I was sitting, otherwise I might have fallen backwards. In front of me was an enormous, coloured strip-cartoon of a completely bald, dreadfully aged—nay senile—businessman. The face was hardly recognizable as a face for it was disintegrating before your eyes, suffering from a severe case of elephantiasis: a swollen mass of raw meat and fatty tissues. The nose spread in many directions like a polyp but sagged finally over one cheek. The mouth looked like a painful boil about to burst. He wore a very sketchily dabbed-in suit of lavender blue. The hands were clasped and consisted of emerald green scratches that resembled claws. The dry painting of the body and hands was completely different from that of the wet, soggy head. The white background was thickly painted with a house painter’s brush. It was dragged round the outer surfaces without any intention of cleaning up the shapes. The head and shoulders were outlined in streaky wet slime.

Francis expected that I would be shocked. He was a little disconcerted. He said it gave him a certain pain to show it to me, but if I didn’t like it I needn’t buy it. The Marlborough Gallery would want it. I stammered: ‘Well—I can’t say what I think of it. It’s so utterly different from anything of yours I’ve ever seen!’

Beaton thought the picture was “of an unusual violence” painted in a manner that broke all the rules. Sensing Beaton’s horror, Bacon was typically gallant and charming offering his friend to take it and if he didn’t like to send it back. Beaton was baffled at the offer, then asked if he bought it could he sell it again? “Of course!” Bacon replied, “It’s yours to do what you want with.”

Beaton returned home “crushed, staggered and feeling quite a great sense of loss.” No sooner had he written these very words in his diary, the telephone rang.

It was Francis. In an ecstatic voice he said:
‘This is Francis, and I’ve just destroyed your portrait.’
‘But why? You said you liked it? You thought it such a good work, and that’s all that matters!’
‘No—I don’t like my friends to have something of mine they don’t like. And I often destroy my work in any case; in fact, I’ve destroyed most of the pictures for the Marlborough. Only I just wanted to let you know so that you needn’t pay me.’

It seemed little to Francis to waste all that work. He seemed jubilant at not getting paid, at not finishing a picture. He said that perhaps, one day he’d start again, or do one from memory: ‘They often turn out the best,’ he said.

Bacon’s portrait may (sadly) no longer exist, but in 1971 a photographer directed a documentary on Cecil Beaton for ATV, which due to having its embedding disabled, can be only seen here.  However, another meeting of talent, when Cecil Beaton photographed (one of his favorite sitters) Marilyn Monroe, can be seen below.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ turned into an illustrated scroll
07.01.2014
06:09 am

Topics:
Art
Books

Tags:
Jack Kerouac
Paul Rogers

kjer01.jpg
 
Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road is currently being turned into a beautifully illustrated scroll by artist Paul Rogers.

Rogers is drawing one illustration for each page of the book, producing the work on one long scroll, just as Kerouac wrote his famous novel on one scroll of teletype paper—though he did it in “three coffee-soaked-benzedrine-fueled days.” .

A member of faculty at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, Rogers has painstakingly researched “cars, buses, roadside architecture, and old signs” to insure his drawings match Kerouac’s America of the late Forties and early Fifties.
 
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Rogers has also added extracts from Kerouac’s text which he hopes “makes the series feel like a journal and not a carefully planned out illustrated book, and it seems to capture some of the spirit of Kerouac’s ‘this-happened-then-this-then-this’ writing style.”

You can scroll through Paul Rogers’ illustrated version of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road here.
 
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Via Open Culture

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Naked lady perfectly blends into bookshelf
06.30.2014
12:02 pm

Topics:
Art
Books

Tags:
body painting


 
Sadly, there’s only a single image of this body-painted woman who blends in nicely with a bookshelf. Since books have already been done, I’d like see nude people with body paint blend in with their vinyl shelves.  That would be awesome. Has anyone done that yet? Veruschka maybe? I’ve given you task pro-body painters… now get to it!

Photograph by Bill Waldman. Body paint by Adam DuShole.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Frank Zappa, John Cage, Patti Smith & others celebrate William S. Burroughs at the Nova Convention

Nova Convention
 
In 1978, after many years of living in London and Tangiers, William S. Burroughs decided to return to his home country. For a small group of artistic weirdos, this was a significant event, and a convention was held in his honor at the Entermedia Theater from November 30 through December 2, 1978, on Second Avenue and 12th Street in New York City (it’s no longer there). Much earlier, it had been announced that Keith Richards would be on hand, but after his heroin arrest in Toronto, his management calculated that it would not be wise to appear at a festival honoring the legendary deviant drug addict William S. Burroughs. Frank Zappa was enlisted to read the “Talking Asshole” section from Naked Lunch. Patti Smith, who wore “a glamorous black fur trench” in the words of Thurston Moore, objected mightily to having to follow Zappa and had to be placated by Burroughs confidant and organizer of the convention James Grauerholz, who explained to Smith that Zappa’s appearance was a last-minute necessity and not intended to show Smith up. You can listen to Smith’s contribution, in which she addresses Richards’ absence, here. At the “event party” for the convention, the musical performances included Suicide, The B-52s, and Debbie Harry and Chris Stein from Blondie. The inclusion of The B-52s is most fascinating, as they hadn’t even released their first album yet.
 
William S. Burroughs
 
Other participants included Terry Southern, Philip Glass, John Cage, Laurie Anderson and Allen Ginsburg. You can read a writeup of the event from the December 4, 1978, edition of the New York Times: “Of the other performers, Mr. Burroughs himself was the most appealing, and this had less to do with what he was reading than with how he read it. Although he has created some enduring characters, he is his own most interesting character, and he was in rare form, sitting at a desk in a business suit and bright green hat, shuffling papers and reading in his dry Midwestern accent.” An LP and cassette documenting the event were released in 1979 and they fetch top prices today at Discogs.

According to Ted Morgan in Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs,
 

The Nova Convention took place on November 30, December 1, and December 2, 1978, with the principal performances being held on the last two days at the Entermedia Theater, on Second Avenue and Twelfth Street, which had in the fifties been the fabled Phoenix Theater. Attending were an odd mixture of academics, publishers, writers, artists, punk rockers, counterculture groupies, and an influx of bridge-and-tunnel kids drawn by Keith Richards, who made the event a sellout.

-snip-

Saturday night the Entermedia was packed, largely with young people waiting to see Keith Richards. There was a small hitch, however, which was that Keith Richards had cancelled. He was having problems as the result of a heroin bust in Toronto, and his office convinced him that appearing on the same program with Burroughs was bad publicity.

But the show had to go on, and the composer Philip Glass, playing one of his repetitive pieces on the synthesizer, was thrown to the wolves. The disappointed kids who wanted Keith Richards shouted and booed. Then Brion Gysin went on amid cries of “Where’s Keith?” and found himself hoping that the riot would not start until he had done his brief turn.

In a last-minute effort, James Grauerholz had recruited Frank Zappa to pinch-hit for Keith. He volunteered to read the “Talking Asshole” routine from Naked Lunch. But as Zappa was preparing to go on, Patti Smith had a fit of pique about following him. James did his best to make peace, saying “Frank has come in at the last minute, and he’s got to go on, and he’s doing it for William, not to show you up.” Patti Smith retreated to the privacy of her dressing room, and Zappa got a big hand, because that’s what they wanted, a rock star.

 
From July 1 through July 13, the Red Gallery in London is putting on an exhibition dedicated to the Nova Convention. The exhibition is curated by Thurston Moore and Eva Prinz; Moore, who was present at the event in 1978, supplies a short piece called “Nova Reflections” to the exhibition catalogue; here are some snippets of that:
 

What I remember of the Nova Convention, in my teenage potted reverie, was a palpable excitement of the importance of Burroughs’ return to NYC. He had been living and working in London for some time, and before that, was residing in Tangiers. My awareness of the poets and performers on the Nova Convention bill was obscure, but I did realise everyone there had experienced a history in connection to the man. The poet Eileen Myles performed, and I have a hazy memory of what she has since reminded me was a polarising moment that night: She and a femme cohort came out on stage and performed the so-called William Tell act where in 1951 Burroughs tragically sent a bullet through his wife Joan Vollmer’s skull, killing her instantly. According to Eileen she was hence persona non grata backstage, and frozen out from the coterie of avant lit celebrities shocked at her “reminder” performance.

-snip-

Glass’s idiosyncratic high-speed minimalist pianistics was natural, gorgeous and sublime. Zappa came out and read a Burroughs excerpt “The Talking Asshole” which seemed appropriate and was mildly entertaining. Patti hit the stage in a glamorous black fur trench, purportedly on loan from some high-end clothier. She rambled on a bit, brazenly unscripted, testing the patience of the long night when out of the audience some fan-boy freako leapt on stage and bequeathed her with a Fender Duo-Sonic guitar. She accepted it cooly and before long was gone. And we stumbled into the 2nd Avenue night.

 
In his catalogue piece, Moore leads with an anecdote about photographer James Hamilton, whose astonishing pictures of rock icons are collected in the book (Moore was intergral in putting that book together as well) You Should Have Heard Just What I Seen. Hamilton was covering the event for the Village Voice, and while it’s not stated as such, presumably many of Hamilton’s photographs, are featured in the exhibition.
 
Here’s Timothy Leary, Les Levine, Robert Anton Wilson and Brion Gysin engaging in “conversations” about Burroughs’ work:

 
And here’s Frank Zappa reading “The Talking Asshole” from Naked Lunch:

 
Preview video of the “Nova Convention” exhibition at the Red Gallery:

 
via {feuilleton}

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The Far Side: Roland Topor’s cheerfully violent illustrations from ‘Les Masochistes’
06.27.2014
06:29 am

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Art

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Roland Topor


 
You may have read Richard’s post on René Laloux and Roland Topor’s surrealist animated short,The Snails—a weird little precursor to their most famous collaboration, Fantastic Planet. Like the aliens in Fantastic Planet, the snails are monstrously large, invoking both science fiction and horror—check out The Snails at the end of the post.

Topor’s 1960 book of illustrations Les Masochistes however, is a much more personable tongue-in-cheek kind of psychological intensity. Here are seemingly mundane human beings, engaging in what (at a brief glance) could be a mundane activity, but the sparse drawings show some really cringe-inducing acts of masochism. You smile, then you shudder, then you remember that Torpor wrote the novel, The Tenant, which was later adapted into the final installment of Polanski’s Apartment Series. It all makes sense in the larger Topor canon of discomfort.

They’re like B. Kliban meets Sacher-Masoch, no?
 

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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A Fleshy Alchemy: Passionate lovers fused together
06.27.2014
06:11 am

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Art
Sex

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Rik Garrett

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During that moment of orgasm the bodies blur and blend like unrealized figures in sculptor’s clay. Rik Garrett’s series of photographs Symbiosis captures the bodies surrender to that shared physical bliss.

Garret created these works between 2010 and 2011, and was inspired by falling in love. He compares his work to “alchemy” where he transforms his photographs with thick brushstrokes of flesh-colored paint, as he explains in his book Symbiosis:

An integral concept of Alchemy is “Solve et Coagula” – dissolve and combine.  This is the secret key to manifesting the Philosopher’s Stone, Elixir of Life and immortality.  This ideal is represented with the image of the Rebis – a two-headed hermaphrodite that holds the assets of both genders.

I have worked with this as my goal, erasing the boundaries of the human body. By applying paint directly to the surface of photographs, I have actualized an impossible dream – a physical union made tangible through desire.  Through this process I have been able to visually and symbolically merge male and female into one body – the perfect being.

Once printed these pictures are small enough to fit in a wallet, measuring a mere 3.25 x 4.25 inches. The size induces the viewer to lean closer to examine the photos creating another intimate union between spectator and spectacle. See more of Rik Garret’s work here.
 
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More of Rik Garrett’s incredible photos, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Awesome Japanese movie posters from the go-go Sixties
06.26.2014
11:02 am

Topics:
Advertising
Art
Movies

Tags:
movie posters

The Trip
The Trip
 
Why is it that these Japanese posters of American and British classics from the 1960s seem so much more swinging than their Anglophone counterparts? Has the U.S.—or even Great Britain—ever had a period when movie posters were this cool? Whatever, I fully expect to start seeing these in living rooms everywhere, they’re just too fantastic!
 
Alfie
Alfie
 
Bedazzled
Bedazzled
 
Hud
Hud
 
Blow Up
Blow Up
 
Modesty Blaise
Modesty Blaise
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Moneyballs: A million bucks shredded for… art
06.25.2014
01:58 pm

Topics:
Art
Economy

Tags:
Argentina
money
Alberto Echegaray Guevara

Alberto Echegaray Guevara
 
What is it about seeing massive sums of money collected in a single place (and also rendered useless) that exerts such a fascination on us? On his first album The Top Part, standup comedian John Mulaney has a bit where he asserts that he’d rather pay $10 to see a pile of 100 million dollars in a room than pay $10 to see most of the movies that cost 100 million dollars. The KLF created a significant public spectacle when they burned a million pounds in public—indeed, some observers say that Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty of the KLF were never quite the same after that odd event.
 
Alberto Echegaray Guevara
 
Alberto Echegaray Guevara was “an advisor to the Argentinian economic minister who pegged the country’s currency at a 1:1 rate with the US dollar” in 1991, a move that unquestionably sapped the Argentine government of flexibility and almost certainly led to the country’s massive economic meltdown in 1998-2002. In those years Argentina suffered an economic collapse that makes the problems the U.S. suffered between 2007 and 2010 look like a joke: the economy shrank by a whopping 28 percent. Understandably, the economic shock caused significant unrest in the country and toppled the government of Fernando de la Rua in 2001.

A cataclysmic event of such magnitude is bound to discourage one a mite about the world financial regime, and stance surely made all the more pronounced by the world economic collapse in 2008. In response, Guevara created Moneyball: Power Spheres, a work of art that uniquely expresses a deep pessimism about the ubiquitous institution of money: the work consists of 12 Murano crystal orbs, 11 of them filled with a million shredded Argentinian pesos each, surrounding an orb with a million shredded U.S. dollars. (The ratio of orbs is meant to comment on the exchange rate between peso and dollar.) The work saw its debut at arteBA, Latin America’s largest contemporary art fair, in late May.
 
Alberto Echegaray Guevara
 
In an essay for the Atlantic titled “Why I Shredded $1 Million,” Guevara explains his motivations and the process of making Moneyball:
 

The central theme of my work was the idea of destruction. I wanted to break something down to give it a new meaning, or to see what new meaning it would be given. To find out, I shredded $1 million, and the black-market equivalent of that sum in Argentine pesos: 11 million. The money was then displayed in Murano crystal spheres in an installation I named Moneyball: The One Million Dollar Installation.

-snip-

No matter who saw the crystal spheres, the first question was invariably, “Whose money is this?” or “Where/how did you get the money?” All of the bills were out-of-circulation, already rendered valueless in the traditional sense. While I was probably the first person to ask, obtaining permission to take the shredded money was complex in the United States and at the European Central Bank.

Argentina’s Central Bank was the only institution to be withholding, though. It was an ironic move, given that the Argentine peso is the least valued of all the currencies, but not surprising considering how secretive the country is when it comes to its books, having reported inflation rates for years now as much lower than what independent economists assess. The Central Bank surprisingly keeps no official records of how many bills it destroys, either. For months, I followed trucks with out-of-circulation bills to wade through dumpsters with their discards until I finally accumulated enough for the installation.

 
Guevara hopes to take his art work all over the world. In this video, he waxes philosophical about the evanescent and arbitrary power that money holds over us. But for his audience, the work is mainly about seeing all that money.
 

 
via Hyperallergic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Debbie Harry, Ramones, Nick Rhodes, Courtney Love and more on MTV’s ‘Andy Warhol’s 15 Minutes’


 
In December of 2010, I visited the Andy Warhol Enterprises exhibit then being held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It was an excellent full-career retrospective, loaded with rare goodies, and generously tilted toward his early, pre-Factory commercial work, which I prefer to his more famous silkscreens (commence calling for my skull on a pike, I don’t care). But as much as I was enjoying the early books and the blotted-ink drawings of shoes, I was surprised by a trip down amnesia lane that came at the end of the exhibit, a video installation of one of Warhol’s last projects, the show he produced and co-hosted (with Debbie Harry) for MTV called Andy Warhol’s 15 Minutes. The name of the show referred to Warhol’s famous quip “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Episodes of the program were actually 30 minutes in length. #themoreyouknow
 

Warhol with Debbie Harry, dressed by Stephen Sprouse.
 
I was an arty kid, so I knew perfectly well who Warhol was (some of my friends only learned of his existence from that show, believe it or not), and so I never missed it. Though it wasn’t too hard to catch them all—as the series was prematurely ended by Warhol’s 1987 death, there were only five episodes, the last of which was mainly a memorial. But while it was on, it was glorious. Although the program featured lots of marquee names, befitting Warhol’s obsession with celebrity and celebrities, it also highlighted NYC downtown fashion, art, and music phenomena. Mind-expanding stuff for a midwestern kid, and stuff which would have otherwise been entirely inaccessible, since Warhol’s previous television ventures, Fashion and Andy Warhol’s TV, were limited to NYC cable.

And unless you visit the Warhol Museum or a traveling retrospective, the program itself is now pretty well inaccessible. Few things have been more damnably hard to find streaming than episodes of 15 Minutes, and to my complete bafflement, the Warhol Museum store doesn’t offer a home video. Much of what little can be found is fuzzy VHS home recordings, but it gives an adequate taste of how deep the show could go—and remember, this was on MTV.
 

 

 
It gets a good bit better with this clip of Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes taking the viewer on a tour of Manhattan nightclubs The Palladium and AREA (note future Twin Peaks actor Michael J. Anderson as the garden gnome.)
 

 
KONK were an amazing dance-punk band of the era. You may recognize the drummer, Richard Edson, an original member of Sonic Youth, and co-star of the Jim Jarmusch film Stranger Than Paradise.
 

 
This Ramones interview ends with a live, not lip-synced, performance of “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg.”

 
The last bit footage I’ve found is a jaw-dropper—an interview segment with a 21ish, pre-fame Courtney Love!
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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What does a snail eating sound like?
06.23.2014
01:08 pm

Topics:
Art
Environment
Music

Tags:
Nick Abrahams


 
Filmmaker and visual artist Nick Abrahams will be presenting “Lions and Tigers and Bears,” an exhibition of photographs, installations and artworks inspired by the lush magic of the British countryside. The show which opens at The Horse Hospital in London on Friday examines our changing relationship with nature by inviting the spectator “to use their own imagination to bear on sounds and images which are both extraordinary and overlooked.”
 

 
Last year Nick made “Ekki Mukk,” a short film collaboration with Sigur Rós that won the British Council Best UK short film award for 2013. That short (see below) forms part of the “Lions and Tigers and Bears” project and also inspired Abrahams’ 7-inch single of the same name:

The single and exhibition include 3 key audio recordings – that of a snail eating, a fox sleeping, and sounds recorded around a tree. The sounds evoke mysterious worlds – the tree is the Martyrs tree in Tolpuddle, under whose branches the first trade union in England met in 1834, to fight for better pay and working conditions… the snail is heard eating, amplified to a level which we can hear and sounding something like a chainsaw – what else would we hear if we could listen closely enough ? And a sleeping fox…. what does a fox dream about ?

A fourth recording features the voice of Shirley Collins, a living national treasure and seminal folk singer, who reads a prose poem by Nick Abrahams, leaving us in the world of fairytales.

A feature film of the “Lions and Tigers and Bears’ project is currently in development. Nick says there will be a live snail race at the opening (6pm to 9pm) and to “please come, bring friends (although not more snails, they can be rather ‘me me me’).”
 

 
The Horse Hospital, The Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1JD
 

 
Below, Abrahams’ stunning music video for “Ekki Mukk” by Sigur Rós:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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