Being locked out of my Sandberg studio while holiday renovations take place creates time for exploring the Amsterdam forests by bike, watching EasyJet 737′s full of anticipatory stoners land from my balcony and reading books.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Australian Screen Classics series. Currency Press, Sydney.
Brophy’s reading of the signs within this iconic Australian film is a euphoric textual overload. Few other writers cause me to verbalise my intellectual agitation during the act of reading as Brophy does. I find myself floored by the spiky analysis, unexpected connections and sharp wit. His analysis is incisive and the language used is never jargonistic or cluttered. The author generates a highly subjective theory-fiction, akin to Baudrillard or Barthes’ analysis of the products of culture. Just as valid as any other potential reading and certainly not pandering to any pre-digested self-image of the Australian Film Industry. A highly provocative reading of the gay/straight, male/female, urban/rural energies contained in this film, the passages on Chrome-plating and the Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy, Scarves and the Village Roadshow logo leave a lasting impression, as too the Freudian disfiguration of the land to make way for the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric scheme. I come away from this book thinking where are all the other analyses of popular culture that refuse to tow an accepted ‘Margaret and David’ canonisation of certain cultural works. Where is the psycho-sexual re-reading of Antiques Roadshow, Channel 10 Late night news or The NRL Footy Show?
Cultural Activism Today. The art of over-identification. Episode Publishers, Rotterdam.
I have been intending to read this collection of essays for the past year. Subconsciously avoiding it until I had decent time and space to take it in perhaps. Beginning with Slavoj Zizek’s concept of over-identification with ‘the enemy’ (advanced capitalism, totalitarian regimes, neo-conservative agendas) as the only form of cultural activism that doesn’t automatically lock into a played out notion of Left-Right politics, with all the perfunctory role-playing that such a binary opposition summons up. Post-ideology activism for a post-ideological age. The argument is that to face the opponent with an image of itself so magnified, heightened and detestable is the only way of exposing the inherent hypocrisy within that system. Santiago Serra, Christoph Schlingensief, Atelier van Lieshout are discussed at length and the cultural shockwaves that their performances and installations generate. Schlingensief has always fascinated me. His ability to be the enfant terrible for German-speaking culture, making unsettling film, tv and theatre work that implicates it’s audience, funders and participants. A kind of double-bluff that provokes a social black hole of shame and responsibility, of which Schlingensief isn’t immune to either. Schlingensief’s projects discussed in this book include the African Twin Towers film installation and Bitte liebt Osterreich, a protest against the extreme-right party of Jorg Haider joining the Austrian government; In a makeshift container camp in the center of Vienna a Big Brother-type reality show asked Austrians to vote asylum seekers out of the camp and out of the country. The ‘most integrated’ refugee at the end of the game won a residence permit. A superb analysis of the Slovenian industral band Laibach is undertaken by Alexei Monroe, dismantling their seemingly ultra-nationalist symbols such as the Slovenian Stag, Alpine romanticist oil painting and traditional folk costume. True to the image of themselves as ‘State Artists’, Laibach’s administering organisation NSK offers a passport to the public from their website for admission to their ‘state in time’. All the artists discussed in this volume keep their poker face. It is an ambiguous and complex gesture that provides no easy recuperation or dismissal.
Laibach Live 14.11.03 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Destroy All Monsters. Marion Boyars, London.
A sharply non-linear novel that runs at breakneck speed between visiting aliens, Tokyo teens, reanimated Elvis Presley and the interior monologues of the President of the Unted States, Destroy All Monsters is a thrilling read. Elliptical narratives. Cascading plots and thoroughly media-soaked characters scattered around the globe. Also highly recommended is Ken Hollings and Simon James’ ResonanceFM podcast series on American 1950′s Science Fiction, Fantasy and Fact; how the cold war, space race and the very real ‘little green man’ hysteria influenced popular culture and vice versa: Welcome to Mars
It was 1998 and our film night HIPNOTISMO was just kicking off. Held in the old Theatreworks hall in St Kilda, we were nineteen and full of beans. Amiel, Dorian and I were excited to show Conner’s MONGOLOID, a found-footage music video before music video. We had the reel of 16mm film from the state film centre, the projector was in working order and we had a half-full auditorium of late-night buffs. The 1978 film cuts together post-WW2 science experiments, nuclear tests and monochromatic chemistry animations, all wildly out of context, with the plasticated future-retro new wave of Akron’s favourite sons DEVO pulsing behind the high-school science. All very influential to us young artists and film-makers. We doubled MONGOLOID with MONGRELOID, George Kuchar’s 1978 film of a man and his intimate relationship with Bocko the dog.
In a perverse twist Bruce Conner’s MONGOLOID is unavailable on YouTube, due to a copyright infringement notice. Did the estate of Conner submit an objection? It never ceases to amaze me how precious stake-holders can be with found-footage work, to the point of placing their own copyright symbol on the tail of a video. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. It comes from the unsolicited pile of visual culture around us, it goes back to it, given a spin by the consumer/producer. Value-added organic compost in the electrified slurry of appearances, images and signs.
R.I.P. BRUCE CONNER
DEVO play Australia and Japan in July and August – sing along with MONGOLOID very loud.
Let’s Paint TV is a community access cable television show broadcast in Los Angeles. A psychedelic Saturday morning smear of extreme video mixer effects, live painting, treadmill running and taking calls from the public. The host John Kilduff remains focused on being positive throughout abusive calls from anonymous callers, dealing with extreme multi-tasking while painting portraits and interviewing guests. Live studio guests have included a fake Robert DeNiro, carnivorous birds and the Wizard of Oz’s Tinman. Extremely effective grass-roots interactive art on many levels, Let’s Paint TV is an internet phenomenon and a peculiar broadcast endurance event that I wanted to know more about. I asked this indefatigable performer and UCLA MFA candidate graduate some questions over email.
EZ. You focus on multitasking and positivity in
your show, how do you gauge if these very
important life lessons are being imparted to your
call-in audience ? Have you been asked to run
workshops or self-help camps ?
JK. I do get a few personal emails from people who
ask me for advice on how to continue on with life.
EZ. Is positivity coming back in full force in the
USA ? Is Bush’s demise a blossoming flower of
openness or not ? How hard is it to be positive ? Is
California a great place to be positive ?
JK. Yes to all…I think. It can be hard and
frankly, most of the time when I am not
performing…I have to remind myself that Mr Let’s
Paint justs keeps on keeping on! Yes, I think
California is a great place to be positive..both
LA and San Fransisco.
EZ. Do you get hassled at the supermarket ? Are
you well-known in your neighborhood ? Has someone
noticed you in 7-11 and shook your hand ?
JK. No,No,and No…..LA is so big that it just
hasn’t happened yet. Now if I was on the cover of
People Magazine…that would be different.
EZ. Have you made other experiments in the media ?
Ever hosted a radio show or exhibited your
paintings in unconventional spaces ? Were you a
painter before you were involved with electricity ?
JK. During the OJ Simpson trial, I painted the
reporters at the trial and they interviewed me. No
to radio show (my brother did that), But I have
been doing this live internet show on
stickcam.com/letspainttv. Yes, I have been a
painter for over 20 years.
EZ. What is your favourite music ?
JK. Not sure…I like/hate everything
EZ. What is your favourite colour ?
JK. I don’t think I have one.