The blog of author Dennis Cooper

KilometerKid presents … 15 visual artists who’ve moved what worked for them in white cubes into dark cuboids with mixed results


Robert Longo Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

Johnny Mnemonic is frequently considered one of the worst sci-fi films of the modern era. It is not! In fact, it stands up exceptionally well after 16 years — especially if you’re drunk. (Seriously, alcohol really helps.) Roger Ebert said this movie “doesn’t deserve one nanosecond of serious analysis but has a kind of idiotic grandeur that makes you almost forgive it.” I’m willing to forgive Johnny Mnemonic, not because it oozes camp, but because the movie really meant to be better. The problem is, we’ve all been watching this movie the wrong way.

Johnny was directed by Robert Longo, a New York-based painter/sculptor most famous for his works in the late 1970s and early ’80s, part of a troika of artists-turned-filmmakers — with David Salle and Julian Schnabel — often considered the face of the yuppie art boom. Longo worked closely with William Gibson (the sci-fi author and coiner of the term “cyberspace”) on the film’s arguably tortured screenplay. Most famous for his ‘Men in the Cities’ series (which may or may not have inspired those iconic iPod ads), Longo played the brooding artist during the film’s production process in Canada, dressing in all black and offering reporters pithy bon mots like, “Artists are the last people left who can tell the truth.” Johnny was his first and last foray into film. …




Sam Taylor-Wood Nowhere Boy (2009)

‘When Sam Taylor-Wood emerged in the 90s as a photographer/video artist, her work was fixated on decay, madness and death. In Method In Madness, a man laughs, sweats and screams. In Hysteria, a young woman mimes hysterical laughter. In Breach, a girl sits on a floor and cries and sniffs in silence. These films don’t have a beginning, middle or end, and are all but unwatchable. In Brontosaurus, a naked man dances like crazy to classical music. In Knackered, a naked woman mimes badly to opera. Many of these films rely on visual puns and unlikely juxtapositions, and cry out for meaning where none exists. Some of the work is rather beautiful – in Still Life, a painterly bowl of fruit decays in time lapse; in Ascension, a man balances a dove on his head while tap dancing over a dead body; and in Pieta she cradles a Christ-like Robert Downey Jr on darkened steps.

‘Taylor-Wood is new to the movies. Nowhere Boy is her first feature. She has made one short film, about two schoolchildren who fall in lust to the Buzzcocks. The aspiring punks in Love You More chat coyly before snogging, gobbing and shagging with furious intensity. It’s a surprisingly explicit film – one that verges on the voyeuristic. As an artist used to calling the shots, Taylor-Wood was amazed by how many people get a say in a feature film. “The minute you go into certain realms and budgets… I don’t want to use the word control, but you lose control.” She smiles. She may not like to admit it, but she knows just how controlling she is. She is even controlling about the use of the word control. (For the shoot to go with this interview, she decided on the look, called in the clothes and chose the photographer.) …




Cindy Sherman Office Killer (1997)

‘“Cindy Sherman does not consider Office Killer to be part of her own body of art, since she was more of a hired gun to direct the picture,” writes Catherine Morris in The Essential Cindy Sherman. However, Sherman was not simply a “hired gun.” In the June 1997 issue of Art in America, Sherman herself acknowledges that the general idea for the story was hers, that she was involved in preproduction, that she gave specific instructions to the cinematographer and the actors about what she wanted, and that she played a direct role in the editing. She is officially credited in the film’s titles for the story idea and her role as director. Then the movie bombed, and everyone, including Sherman, stopped talking about it.

‘Part of the problem is that the movie isn’t really a horror film, or even a send-up of a horror film. It’s more of a dark “chick pic,” drawing on the tradition of The Women (1939), combined with elements of camp and satire. The relationships between the women (all the main characters are female) echo a Joan Crawford-led women’s picture from an earlier era, where the films—from The Women to Mildred Pierce (1945) and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)—explored the complicated interpersonal dynamics between women and their struggles for men, power, and independence, the roles of the men often an afterthought in the narrative. There are numerous thematic and atmospheric parallels between Office Killer and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, another mix of horror and melodrama from three decades before. …




Larry Clark Ken Park (2002)

Larry Clark learned photography at an early age. His mother was an itinerant baby photographer, and Clark himself was enlisted in the family business from the age of 13. In his mid-teens, Clark began injecting amphetamines with his friends in 1959. Always armed with a camera, from 1963 to 1971 Clark produced pictures of his drug-shooting coterie that have been described by critics as “exposing the reality of American suburban life at the fringe and for shattering long-held mythical conventions that drugs and violence were an experience solely indicative of the urban landscape.” In 1993, Clark directed Chris Isaak’s music video “Solitary Man”. This experience developed into an interest in directing. After publishing other photographic collections, Clark met Harmony Korine in New York and asked Korine to write the screenplay for his first feature film, Kids which was released to controversy and moderate critical acclaim in 1995.

‘Film critics who do not find social or artistic value in Clark’s work have labeled his films obscene, exploitative and even borderline child pornography because of their frequent and explicit depictions of teenagers using drugs and having sex. In Kids, Clark’s most widely known film to date, boys portrayed as being as young as 12 are shown to be casually drinking alcohol and using other drugs. The film received an NC-17 rating, and was later released without a rating. Ken Park is a more sexually and violently graphic film than Kids, including a scene of autoerotic asphyxiation and ejaculation by an apparently underage male (although the actors are all 18 and older). As of 2008, it has not been widely released nor distributed in the United States. …




Matthew Barney Cremaster Cycle (1994 – 2002)

Matthew Barney’s art presents a serious critical problem for me, one that borders on embarrassment, and may disqualify me from writing on it at all. It began almost the instant I set eyes on his work in a 1990 group show at the now defunct Althea Viafora Gallery, when I experienced what can only be called an epiphany. The art world was in crisis; everything was in flux. Suddenly, this 22-year-old appeared naked, in a videotape, climbing ropes, then lowering himself over a wedge of Vaseline and applying dollops of it to his body. Spellbound and flabbergasted, I thought, “Whoever or whatever this is, I need to see more of it—much more.” As with Wagner’s Ring, part of the fun of his most recent work, a quintet of films called the Cremaster Cycle, is immersing yourself and parsing its symbolism and themes. The optical force and intellectual sparkle of Barney’s work renders claims of obscurantism beside the point. Like all great art, Barney’s exists beyond language.

‘In the order that they were made, Cremaster 4, with its jerky cuts and relatively meager budget, is the rawest of the lot, and the one that hones closest to the original biological story. Cremaster 1 is my least favorite, perhaps because it’s the only one Barney’s not in, and I miss his considerable star power. Nevertheless, it’s growing on me; though the slowest, this part is still gorgeous, and shows Barney spreading his creative wings. Cremaster 5 is a magnificent operatic leap of artistic faith, ravishing in its use of crimson and black, and deeply melancholy. Cremaster 2 is stunning, complicated, lucid, and underestimated. The sprawling, majestic Cremaster 3 is my nomination for Best Picture by an Artist. …




Isaac Julien Young Soul Rebels (1991)

‘After graduating from St Martin’s School of Art in 1984, where he studied painting and fine art film, Isaac Julien founded Sankofa Film and Video Collective (1983–1992). Julien was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001, and has had solo shows at the Pompidou Centre in Paris (2005), MoCA Miami (2005) and the Kerstner Gesellschaft, Hanover (2006). Julien is represented in the Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, Guggenheim and Hirshhorn Collections. One of the objectives of Julien’s work is to break down the barriers that exist between different artistic disciplines, drawing from and commenting on film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting and sculpture, and uniting these to construct a powerfully visual narrative. Thematically, much of his work directly relates to experiences of black and gay identity, including issues of class, sexuality, and artistic and cultural history.

Young Soul Rebels is Julien’s only foray into full-length fiction film so far. Set in the London of 1977, the film tells the story of Mo and Chris, DJs on a pirate radio station. When a gay man is murdered in a London park, Chris is arrested for the crime. Julien imagines the epochal year of 1977, when Punk Rock exploded into public consciousness and Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Silver Jubilee, in terms of its hybrid qualities. Most intriguing is the film’s examination of the popular cultural upheavals of ‘77 from the perspective of Black Soul culture rather than from the predominantly white, working-class Punk rock perspective. It’s an approach that’s partly justified by the time itself, given the centrality of race riots to the period, the overlap between punk and reggae and the solidarity between anti-fascist campaigners and musicians.

Young Soul Rebels might now be seen as the missing link between the impressionist, avant-garde fury of Derek Jarman’s films Jubilee and The Last of England and as a a crude, low-budget hybrid of My Beautiful Laundrette and Pump Up the Volume. One of the many things that the movie tries to be is a murder mystery whose plot twist is clumsily reminiscent of Antonio’s Blow-Up. Young Soul Rebels is at its worst when it is trying to be a whodunit. Early in the movie, it is quite clear who the murderer is. And the moments when the film tries to build suspense are clankingly overdone. At its best, the movie lays bare the schisms in London society in scenes of the local street life, where tensions are often on the verge of erupting into violence.’ — shadowandact



Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2007)

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait is a cinematic collaboration between artists Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, in which 17 cameras (film and video) are trained on Algerian-born French soccer legend Zinedine Zidane for the duration of Real Madrid’s fairly important league match with Villareal in April 2005. (The film furnishes no context of this type or any other, but Real were chasing Barcelona for Spain’s La Liga title.) Not renowned as the chattiest of men, Zidane had nevertheless met with the directors and endorsed their project.

‘Gordon is perhaps best known for 24-Hour Psycho, in which he projected Hitchcock’s movie at two frames per second: clearly this is an artist intrigued by time-based media, and the degree to which images can be scrutinised more fruitfully outside of the whole. One wouldn’t then expect a Gordon ‘documentary’ to be stuffed with archive footage or talking heads. “We thought we could use ideas from the art world,” Gordon told the Guardian of his and Parreno’s intentions, “and combine them with popular culture.”

Zidane announces itself within seconds as an artwork – in the graphic design of its titles, and by a zoom into an abstracted extreme close-up of a television screen showing the match. Gradually, Zidane himself is centred on the screen within the screen, albeit as a blurred figure on a green carpet. The score – modal drones and meandering guitars by Mogwai – gets into gear, and then we’re off, transported into Gordon’s and Parreno’s multi-camera footage. The mystique of Zidane probably deserves a film as elusive and taciturn as Gordon’s and Parreno’s, one that polishes his enigma rather than penetrates it, now that he has trudged from the pitch and into the pantheon for keeps. …




Yoko Ono and John Lennon Rape (1969)

‘During 1960s Yoko Ono had written a few scripts to produce movies. Out of those scripts, Ono finally chose to produce ‘Rape’. Funded by her husband, John Lennon, she hired four film technicians and asked to follow a girl and record her day’s activities, importantly without her permission. The seventy five minute long film when released had generated heated discussions amongst the art loving public and critics who accused the artists-duo of violating the privacy of a hapless individual and subjecting her to the same tribulations against which the film was intended to produce effects. The girl who was followed by the filming team was Eva Majlata, an Austrian girl whose work permit in London had been over by the time the filming was taking place. The girl was set up for the shooting in agreement with her sister who had even given access to the filming team to Majlata’s rented room in London.

‘The film ‘Rape’ opens with Majlata getting caught by the film crew at cemetery where she goes to spend her idle time. Initially she is very flattered. Though she knows that she is not a film star or a celebrity, the sudden appearance of the filming crew before her makes her a bit elated. She plays up to the situation acting quite casually while trying to tell them that she is not a star. She does not speak English. Her working English fails after a few minutes of them following her with the camera. Slowly the tension mounts. Her elation gives way to anxiety and then to fear. She walks fast, hides and whenever the crew reappears before her she tries to reason with the men in French, German and a little bit of Italian. But the crew is determined to follow. The scene grows eerie as the viewers see not many people around in the locality. The cemetery is completely abandoned. Majlata searches for some names on the plaques and collects some flowers to hide her embarrassment and fear. But she is not able to do that. The stalking becomes relentless and the presence of camera though we are not privy to see the people behind the camera, becomes quite apparent. At one stage to make a deal with the filming crew she asks for light for her cigarette. They give light to her. Some people appear in the scene looks at her and the team with a fair amount of coldness and walk off. She walks out of the cemetery and hits the road. The gaze of camera follows her. She jumps into a taxi and reaches her apartment and even there she sees the filming crew behind her. She is now visibly tired and horrified. She makes a phone call to her sister and finally coils herself up and moves into the corner of her living room. The film ends there.

‘One could ask a question: had she been a migrant with valid papers and work permit to live in London, would she have reacted like a victim? The possible answer could be that still her gender would have made her to flee from the camera men. If she was intelligent enough she would have sought the help of the policemen or the people around. Or if she was arrogant and bold she would have smashed the camera and beaten up the men who were following her. She does not do either. Instead she flees from the spot as if her gender and social status were two crimes committed by her. Even in her illegal migrant status she could use her gender position to counter these camera men. But she fears that her gender itself is detrimental for her as it could bring her stringent punishment from the authorities. Yoko Ono calls the film, quite succinctly and metaphorically, Rape. In her film the protagonist is ensnared by the camera, the male gaze and is raped by it till she resigns to her fate of utter surrender.’ — By All Means Necessary



David Salle Search and Destroy (1995)

When David Salle emerged on the art scene in the early 1980s, his often oblique work was set squarely within the critical definition of postmodernism by virtue of its art-historical references and ambiguous combinations of original and appropriated imagery from both high and low traditions. Subverting the recognizable and allowing the familiar to become strange through odd juxtapositions, details, and illogical compositions, Salle’s pictures leave the viewer to develop meaning out of layered images and surrealistic disjunctions. His repertoire has included erotically charged representations of nude women borrowed from pornographic magazines, quotations from Théodore Géricault’s paintings of corpses, and actual pieces of furniture affixed to the canvas. A cinematic influence can be detected in Salle’s juxtapositions of vignettes that evoke filmic montage in which visual elements are arranged to produce meaning not otherwise present in the individual images.

‘In December 1985 Salle devised the settings and costumes for the play Birth of the Poet, by Kathy Acker. Though not heralded as his finest accomplishments, his set designs were better received than his cinematography directing debut – Search and Destroy (1995). “The idea of a painter becoming a filmmaker is an intriguing one,” John Petrakis, of the Chicago Tribune, wrote, “and perhaps someday modern artist David Salle will direct an enticing piece of cinema. But he’ll need a much better script than the one provided for him here by writer Michael Almereyda, based on Howard Korder’s stage play. To put it bluntly, this movie is a mess.” Though much ado was made about the opening and that this was his first attempt, little good was said about the production. Although it had infomercial hosts, closet scriptwriters – for slasher flicks, drug dealers, gangsters and a bit of love thrown in for good measure; some of the actors were “dangerously out of control, the tell-tale sign of a rookie director.” …




Neïl Beloufa Occidental (2016)

‘After moving out of his visual art comfort zone with a number of short films and one documentary hybrid feature, the 2013 Tonight and the People, French artist Neïl Beloufa offers Occidental, the closest he’s yet come to a conventional feature film. As is often the case with art-world figures and quasi-experimentalists who likewise go for the gold (cf. Isaac Julien, Ngozi Onwurah, Cindy Sherman), the results are mixed but never less than intriguing. Ostensibly the story of a very ’70s-looking gay couple (Idir Chender and Paul Hamy) who arouse suspicion upon checking into the honeymoon suite at the Hotel Occidental, Beloufa’s film is primarily a study in atmosphere and mise en scène. Although initially resembling late Fassbinder efforts, particularly Querelle (1982), look closer and you’ll see that the stilted, high-toned Euro-sleaze of Werner Schroeter is actually the presiding spirit here.

‘But despite the deep shadows, exotic gewgaws, and lacquered walls of avocado and taupe, Occidental cannot quite capture that sense of free-floating decadence that defines Schroeter’s cinema. In this regard, Beloufa joins other contemporary French auteurs like Yann Gonzalez, artists who present but a theoretical approximation of a now-lost moment, when gay male desire still exuded the thick, viscous ambiance of post-Genet danger. What Occidental offers instead is a collection of perplexing human relationships reducible to types: the pseudo-suave continentals, the uptight xenophobe with her own issues, the naïve sexpot, the Arab struggling to fit in with his adoptive country. For his part, Beloufa moves them around in predictable ways, generating abstraction by eliding much of the characterization that would produce recognizable realism. In this way, he allows the funky, fraudulent space of the hotel set to assert itself, filling in the gaps. As strategies go, it’s not a bad one. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to feel the auteur working the angles throughout the film, and the result is a bit like fucking on graph paper.’ — Cinema Scope



Julian Schnabel Miral (2011)

‘Just over two decades ago, Julian Schnabel was famed as the “bad boy” of the New York art scene, a notorious figure in the city who emerged from nowhere to dominate the inner circle of Greenwich Village’s most luminous modern painters. In the 1980s, he became an almost overnight artistic superstar, famed as much for his work as his eccentric and charismatic personality – he wore a dilettante uniform of pyjamas, slippers and a robe while he painted in his studio. His “plate paintings” – large-scale works set on broken ceramic plates – as well as his traditional Japanese Kabuki theatrical sets using velvet and animal hides, elicited divided responses from the art critics. Some were offended by his deliberate flouting of the conventions of “high art”, while others hailed his work as following in the best traditions of Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock.

‘But Schnabel’s fame came from more than just his artwork. Some felt his popularity in the 1980s was synonymous with consumerism and that he exemplified the cold commercialisation of the art world that was tied to the economic boom of the era. His critics claimed that his eccentric, pyjama-wearing persona outshone his work. But the art-buying public loved him, and his exhibitions were nearly always sold out. A prolific artist who managed to produce a steady flow of new work, Schnabel is said to have once sold more than 60 canvases in one year. When his profile as a painter began to fade slightly in the 1990s, the ever-resourceful artist turned to the fresh medium of film, which he conquered with his distinctive biopics that have been winning critical acclaim ever since his debut in 1996. …




Rebecca Horn Buster’s Bedroom (1991)

Rebecca Horn is a performance artist-sculptor recently turned filmmaker whose art is widely recognized in Europe and New York. What is it about those multiple monicker occupations that immediately causes us to catch a whiff of the flaky poseur who does many things badly? And Horn’s roles are so contradictory. It seems all those slashes just mean we live in a society that can’t make up its mind. Which serves to remind us here in the land of the decreasingly free that they can do things a little differently in Europe. In the ’60s, Andy Warhol made considerable strides in busting the border between U.S. fine visual arts and the commercial film, but it didn’t take. But in Berlin and elsewhere on the Continent, it’s perfectly natural for a performance artist like Horn to know film people like Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders as part of a yeasty artistic stew that takes in writers and intellectuals as well. While we tend to specialize and commercialize, they can still hybridize for infusions of vigor.

‘Horn’s feature film Buster’s Bedroom‘s tone is set when we see the ingenue film student, Micha (Amanda Ooms), driving her convertible across the desert toward Hollywood, blindfolded. The impression she is a little nuts is reinforced by her habit of playing mumbletypeg very fast between her black-leather-gloved fingers. Her main obsession, however, is Buster Keaton. When she learns he was once incarcerated in an upscale loony bin called Nirvana House, she sets off on a pilgrimage. The slapstick-surreal plot unfolds to a somewhat murky conclusion where Micha may be dead, drowning or liberated. The cast, including Donald Sutherland, Geraldine Chaplin, Taylor Mead, and Mary Woronov, is unfailingly entertaining.

‘But Buster’s Bedroom’s flaws are serious and point an accusing finger at the director-writer. The film lacks cohesion–there’s too much air in it. Story points are dropped and symbolism often obscure. Special effects that are supposed to be magical are merely mechanical, so we’re unwilling to suspend disbelief, as in a scene where Chaplin chases Ooms in her wheelchair, cracking a bullwhip. Cocteau or Bunuel might have brought this off, but here we just realize the girl has nothing to fear, even before Chaplin falls in the swimming pool. For all its professional troops, Buster’s Bedroom still smacks of amateurism.’ — Los Angeles Times



Steve McQueen Hunger (2008)

‘Only a few artists, it turns out, have successfully crossed the line from art to cinema and back again, with anything approaching critical appeal. Steve McQueen, the 2008 winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Camera d’Or for his film Hunger and the U.K. representative to last year’s Venice Biennial, is the latest of the chosen or lucky ones. McQueen is an earnest artist committed to dense pictures with a sympathetic if predictable conceptual spine. Early works, like his videos Bear (1993) and Cold Breath (1999)—featuring, respectively, large black men wrestling naked and the artist irritatingly tweaking his own nipple—hewed to textbook postmodern concerns with the body and its transgression. A third video, called Charlotte (2004), upped the ante on McQueen’s meditations regarding corporeal discomfort. A steady closeup of the artist’s finger repeatedly poking the actress Charlotte Rampling in the eyeball, the video’s blustery inarticulateness—despite the artist’s later protests about critics putting words in his mouth—blurted out irascible volumes of associations, from penetration to torture to Rampling’s famous role in Liliana Cavani’s sadomasochistic The Night Porter.

‘While decidedly narrative, McQueen’s prize-winning first feature still bears the mark of his previous efforts. The story of the death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, the film is constructed on frame after excruciating frame of actor Michael Fassbender portraying Sands’s racked and pustulant body, as well as repeated shots of beatings and shit-flecked walls. Though militantly ambiguous, Hunger proves more than just standard-issue video art. Not content to merely outline the abstract of endurance, McQueen produced a visual essay on human endurance itself. In his own words: “What I did before was like trying to be Beckett, containing everything in this very tight kind of minimalist ball. Hunger was more like trying to be Joyce.” …




Charles Atlas The Legend of Leigh Bowery (2004)

‘Starting originally with super8, Charles Atlas moved over onto video in the early seventies when he worked on a ‘video dance’ piece with Merce Cunningham, getting to grips with the then new technology to produce a short film documenting and manipulating a performance from Cunningham’s dance troupe. As technology has evolved over the past thirty years, Atlas’ work has progressed with it. While digital equipment has allowed him to work live, and he continues to push forward how the technology is used, his pieces still manage to maintain the raw and definitely edgy feel of his early films.

‘Working through the 80’s and 90’s with figures from the club and performance scenes both in New York and London, the films Atlas made then stand as video works in their own right as well as documentaries of his friends and the scene. It was during this time that he got to know Leigh Bowery, who makes an appearance in a few of Atlas’ performance films. In Mrs Peanut visits New York, a six minute portrait of Leigh in full costume, Bowery walks the streets of New York dressed as his version of the Planters peanut logo Mr Peanut, and the feature length documentary Hail The New Puritan is a collaboration featuring Leigh and dancer Michael Clark.

‘After Bowery’s death, Atlas went on to direct the revealing documentary The Legend of Leigh Bowery, commissioned by ARTE France. The film gets close to the different sides of Leigh, and shows the lies, the extrovert behaviour, the kindness and the contradictory family background that made him up. The image of Bowery Mr. Atlas captures is an extraordinary one: a hyperstylized example of body art, a hilarious assault on the masochistic sentimentality of torch- song culture and a touching emblem of the intrinsic vulnerability of outrageousness.’ — Tate Modern



Laurie Simmons My Art (2017)

‘There’s a gentle streak of defensiveness built into the very title of “My Art,” a late-in-the-game debut feature from veteran artist and photographer Laurie Simmons. That possessive adjective acts as a kind of preemptive retort to any accusations of indulgence or inconsequentiality. A seemingly self-reflexive musing on the difficulties and irregular rewards of creating art later in life, Simmons’ petite, personal film makes no claim to a bigger picture: Starring Simmons herself as a solitary New York artist opening her creative process to others over the course of one tranquil rural summer, its wistful, whimsical neuroses aren’t especially universal ones. Short, sour-sweet and content to leave ideas and characters trailing in the summer breeze, “My Art” has evidently been made strictly on Simmons’ terms, however wafty those may be.

‘Viewers will know within minutes if they’re on the film’s very particular, precious wavelength. After a bright, droll credit sequence that follows 65-year-old artist and Yale lecturer Ellie (Simmons) through a varied series of exhibits — some vibrant, some vapid, though no judgment is passed — at the Whitney Museum, the film’s gaze turns swiftly inward. Ellie meets a former student (Simmons’ daughter Lena Dunham, in a shuffling cameo) and they wearily share their respective artistic plans for the summer, from rural creative retreats to Venice Biennale preparations. “I hope it’s not so overwhelming for you,” Ellie says to the younger woman, and perhaps there’s a streak of irony in the film’s seemingly earnest allusion to such first-world stresses. Perhaps not.’ …





p.s. Hey. A kind soul-cum-fan of this blog who has tagged herself KilometerKid asked if she could use this space to share her interest in artists-turned-filmmakers, and, sharing that interest as I do, I said ‘yes, thank you’ on behalf of you, trusting, as I do, that I am not alone. Enjoy, and please say hi or more to your guest-host. ** James Nulick, Hi. Well, I’ll venture that you might cut him some slack if you were to watch one or more of his curiously entertaining film performances? Or maybe not. I saw your email, thank you (!), and I hope to grab its loot and take a look this very day! Sweet that you and Paul met up and had so many things in common. Robert Siek, yes, a long time (though recently infrequent) denizen with bells on of this blog’s very commenting arena. I just received my copy of his new book the other day, and I’m all wracked with expectancy to read it. Wet shoes suck, wherever is the culprit, but in Tokyo, yes, that’s most unfortunate, and yet your heavy trooper component pulled adventures from that anyway. Yeah, but you can’t smoke walking down the street in Tokyo, and that’s charmingly novel but a drag on many occasions. Zac and I got to the gates of the Imperial Gardens but didn’t go in. I don’t remember why. Did you venture in? And what else? I’m good, thanks. Love, bisous, me. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. No, I haven’t seen the Berger doc. It has to have considerable charms. Nice, score, on receiving a smidgen of his wrath. Excellent news and congratulations to you and to all New Yorkers re: the Kamran Heidari fest! I’m going to go investigate his work, which I don’t believe I know. Great! ** KGeIaLtLoYn, Now that’s a helluva name or rather logo! I can’t remember what qualifies as a sin and what qualifies as a neurosis. When you’re a vegetarian like me you have to give up any completist dreams about food. No big. My wordage and Stephen O’s sonic mush have intertwined frequently, but not in the shape of Sunn0)))). Unless one expected the midterms to turn the US into a daydream — really sucks about Gillum, though — some good stuff happened yesterday, and onwards and upwards. If you see that frightful dead boy ghost again, give him my number. ** David Ehrenstein, Has anyone ever studied or written about what it was about Berger that made Visconti get obsessed with him? Because that is one curious fetish. ** _Black_Acrylic, Oh, shit. Fuck the ether. When I did that Artaud reading in London recently, the Napalm Death guy was one of my fellow performers. He made some electronic noise and shouted stuff over it. Nice guy. I think he’s better with guitars maybe. Oh, fantastic about the writing course! Are there assignments, or do you write whatever you want? How is the course set up, basically? ** Misanthrope, No, you did not tell me that. I’m far sighted too. I think maybe that’s the more preferable of the two options, but I do hate that when I do readings now I have to put on my glasses like a fucking college professor or something. Interesting: the title of that Brett Anderson memoir is exactly like what a Suede-ish idea of a title would turn into if it was intended for a book rather than a song. You’ll let me know how is, I trust? ** Corey Heiferman, Hi. Interesting. I suppose that’s true. One interesting thing about Berger is that, even when he was young and glamorous in his weird way and acting in the Visconti films, there was always something embarrassing about him and unmistakeable about his having been cast to play parts he couldn’t play convincingly. He doesn’t have the protections of the films now, which leaves him more exposed, but he’s the same plus and minus-bound guy essentially. Or something. I like your thinking and how you phrase it, and I ‘approve’ or relate even though our respective obligations differ. A party in the Alps, huh. Interesting. ** Right. Please use today’s post to think about the discrepancies between different forms of visualising or something. See you tomorrow.


  1. Nice job, Kid. All these art stars dipping into the movies bring associations of their non-movie work with them that sometimes pay off but mostly don’t. Julian Schnabel has made one film of great interest The Ving Bell and the Btterfly But his adaptation of “Before Night Falls” and his “Basquiat” films are good too. He’s a real filmmaker.

    And I adore Isaac Julien who is a friend I see far too seldom.

  2. Schnabel’s new film about Van Gogh opens in the US the Friday after next. He and Steve McQueen seem to have had the most commercial success of any of these artists, while Longo and Sherman quickly went back to visual art. Clark’s MARFA GIRL 2 opened in NYC very recently to dismal reviews. His period in the spotlight as a filmmaker seemed to fade quickly too; KEN PARK still hasn’t gotten an American release, not even on video.

    I got an E-mail from Heidari this morning. His latest film, ALI AQA, has a US distributor, which I didn’t realize and which complicates things, but we can book the others directly from him. There are lots of things to hash out.

    “Charming” isn’t quite the word for the Berger film. It opens and closes with scenes of him masturbating, and in between he says he wants to have sex with the director. Given this, I thought I that much of it was staged and he deliberately helped create a performatively unflattering self-portrait. Judging from his tweet, that’s not the case.

    Have you heard the new album by the Indonesian band Senyawa, which combines throat singing with Sunn O)))-style drone metal (played on a homemade instrument)? It’s the first Sublime Frequencies release after a year of inactivity, but it sounds like a version of rock music, albeit a very leftfield one, instead of an “I flipped through the radio in Iraq and recorded it” compilation.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Pascal Greggory’s performance CEUX QUI ON’AIME tonight.

  3. One day that brand is gonna be dynomite!
    Keaton everything. Coffee so good David Lynch hasnt slept for a year. Make Adidas look a Did-Ass. Haha, if i could convert you they would make me Pope. Not sure neurosis is still a thing according to the book. Neurosis is more like to Obsession or Hysteria what Homicide is to Murder or Manslaughter. Neurosis is characterized by mild disturbances of thought and functioning. Typically it involves repression as its main psychological defense-mechanism. Neurosis will typically start as something like phobia and can become psychosis. The symptoms of neurotic conditions can be very problematic and difficult to treat. Typically neurosis is treated with talk-therapy or medicine.
    Haha, sin is easy-peasy, basically, God created the world in a state of non-sin, Adam gave in and ate the fruit of knowledge, so he then brought the curse of sin and death upon the world. Anyone born is born into “original sin” which is basically a fall from grace that requires sanctification to return to the god-like state. That is achieved the knowledge of good and evil, the conversation of the holy spirit, and the Christ’s life and death. Sin is divided into the virtually unforgiveable: black-mass, abortion, and desacrating the host/altar to the deadly sins and virtues: lust/chastity, greed/generosity, envy/thankfulness, etc. and then thousands upon thousands of minor sins. The real idea is to die in Christ and become a part of the body of Christ, less person and world and more more Christ. “Jesus Christ looks like me. Jesus Christ…” hehe. I have tried the vegetarian bag and it is tough. That cheese/tofu gig starts to get crazy. Haha, “Dennis Deader C.” you guys should do something. Yesterday was good, control of the house, gay governor, legalization in MI and some new medical stuff. Florida is weird, its becoming less old people which is nice, but as they say, there’s only 2 things in Florida, “Newly weds and newly deads.” haha. The locals are even kind of like weirdly moderate. Haha, lets try a game as far away and with you, it will probably never work, but lets try it… Ghost of the day says, which was in a sheet and scared the shit out of me, says, “froid”. So, heres the game, choose an object that can have easy but not too complicated permutations, choose a word the same, choose a place on the body of a boy, and choose a boy from your neighborhood. Let me know the first 2 and I will try to send you a wanderer. These works are kill, checking this day.

  4. Showbiz gossip has it that Sam Taylor-Wood went on to direct the Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation as Sam Taylor-Johnson after marrying Nowhere Boy’s leading man Aaron. Gotta say I think Office Killer looks pretty good fun but it’s sadly unavailable from my DVD rental supplier.

    The short story writing course that I started last night was good in that there was a decent chemistry among the group plus everyone there seems to be enjoying it, which always helps w3ith this sort of thing. We all introduced ourselves – I explained that I’m from a visual arts background, used to write for an art zine, am into experimental literature and the book I’m currently reading is Sabrina Orah Mark – Wild Milk. There were a couple of simple exercises such as writing a few sentences with words from a given list, and writing some fiction about the person in a photo. Eventually each participant will have written a completed short story by the end of the 5 week course.

  5. KilometerKid,

    Thank you for taking the time to put this thoughtful blog together. I’ve actually seen three of these films!

    Johnny Mnemonic
    Office Killer
    Ken Park

    I don’t remember how I came to see Office Killer, but I remember feeling slightly bummed and depleted afterward. And Larry Clark’s Ken Park was a very difficult film to watch. I saw a Russian bootleg, dubbed in Russian, and with English subtitles, which added to the overall terribleness of the experience. And in what should have been an erotic scene, the autoerotic ejaculation, instead felt forced, obscene, uncomfortably voyueristic, and disturbing— not sexy at all. I own medical books sexier than Ken Park.

    Julian Schnabel went on to make some great films — Basquiat and Before Night Falls… not bad for a person who is known as an artist first, director distant second. Basquiat was beautifully filmed, and the relationship between Basquiat and Warhol quite touching. Bowie was brilliant as Warhol, the best fictional portrayal of Warhol I’ve seen on film, in my opinion. I felt like Bowie didn’t receive enough props for such brilliant acting, but then maybe people find Warhol disagreeable?

    Thanks again for putting this together— which of these films is your favorite?

    Dennis— !!

    We went to Marunouchi yesterday, spent the whole day there! We spent a couple hours at the Imperial Gardens, it was quite beautiful! The next time you and Zac are in Tokyo, you really should pass through the gates! If you’re wearing a backpack though, just know they will inspect it / go through it — so don’t try taking any special brownies through. The gardens are wonderful! And it’s free! Can you believe that?? Meanwhile the second-rate gardens in San Francisco cost $8 per adult — the United States is so bass ackwards.. what a godawful dump.. it’s so terrible I have to return to it. ?

    My favorite part of the Imperial Gardens was the citrus tree section, it’s so lovely. It’s stunning to see citrus growing in November! We saw Yuzu, pomelo, clementines, lemons, limes… you would have loved it, Dennis!

    After the Imperial Gardens we had lunch at Viron, a French-style bistro. I know I wasn’t in France, but it sure felt like I was… the Japanese really pull off the best simulations, hands down.

    Today we are going to the Meiji Gingu Temple in Harajuku, then after that, more department store wandering (my other half is a confirmed clothes horse). And I’m going back to BEAMS to buy an art/photography book I should have purchased the day I saw it… there was only one copy on the shelves … I just hope it’s still there! Otherwise I’ll be bummed that I failed to purchase such a strange and beautiful objet d’art.

    Big love to you from Harajuku today!

    Love, James ❤️❤️

  6. KilometerKid, Great post. Man, I’ve been wanting to see Ken Park for sooo long. Just love Clark’s movies.

    Dennis, Yes, I agree. I’d much rather be far-sighted. Otherwise, you’d have to wear glasses/contacts all the time. Hahaha, Professor Cooper! 😛

    Indeed re: the title of Brett’s memoir. So far, so good, with a complaint. His writing is really good. Good flow, and he can put a sentence together. However, the events in his life…well, there aren’t any. If that makes sense.

    This book starts with his childhood and will end when Suede signs their first big contract. It just lacks, for me, detail. Like, he describes his father and some of the things his father did and how he responded to that as a child; however, there are actual instances but one where he shows his dad to be this way. I think that it’d make it better.

    Dude grew up very poor south of London. His mother would forage in their yard and surrounding woods for dead birds and rabbits and pluck/skin them and make stews. All his clothes growing up were made by his mom. Etc. That’s good stuff. But no actual scenes that show these things. It’s primarily “telling” and not “showing.” Just more a glossing over of how things were and looking at back emotionally.

    An example: He says that his dad could be quite ribald and bawdy and embarrass them in public. How about a specific instance of this? Not that I’m saying he’s lying or anything, but I think it would’ve served him better to put more specific, concrete examples in.

    Weirdly, considering his early output and all the sex and drugs in his life and lyrics, there’s very little of that in tales of growing up.

    I do find it interesting. I’m about 70 pages in and now he’s in high school, getting free lunches, and starting to get into music. I’m in no way suggesting it’s bad at all. It IS interesting, and the pages fly by because he writes so well. (However, there are times when he’s definitely a 50-year-old dad and not Brett Fucking Anderson. You know what I mean?)

  7. Corey Heiferman

    November 8, 2018 at 7:10 am

    KilometerKid, thank you so much for making me aware of “Search and Destroy.” With that cast I’m as sure as can be I’ll love it. You got me curious about video artists who also have notable commercial careers.

    The distinction between video art and cinema has often bothered me, and I confess it’s often a matter of comfort. I think video artists deserve to have their work shown in plush-seated multiplexes with surround sound rather than bare rooms with uncomfortable seating (if any) and noise from other soundmaking artwork and hobnobbers just beyond the thin walls and often doorless entrance.

    Perhaps this form of exhibition made sense when most of it was on cassette tape, but nowadays just about anyone can shoot video at high enough resolution to be flattered by a big movie screen. It seems like a flaw in the system that there are modest grants available to produce video art but there are only extremely limited mostly festival opportunities to exhibit it in grand fashion, and there are plenty of empty multiplex screens at odd but still accessible times (i.e. 11:00 A.M. or gasp even earlier on a Saturday or Sunday). Maybe I just found a curatorial project.

    Today is my 29th birthday, and the second anniversary of my decision to move to Israel (the actual one-year anniversary of the move was two weeks ago). I was born on Parker Posey’s 21st birthday, the day before the fall of the Berlin Wall. I’m about ready for this 20’s thing to be over. Pretty much since I was a kid people have joked that my personality is more like that of someone in their 60s, so I guess I’ll just keep getting more comfortable at least emotionally with age.

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