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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Lodela, a film by Philippe Baylaucq

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The soul leaves the body. Drawn by intense light, the spirit discovers its twin self, its feminine side…its guide in the beyond. Inspired by the myths of the afterlife, this allegorical dance piece illuminates the soul’s quest by exploring movement and the human body in new and astonishing ways. An evocation of the origins of the world. A hymn to the beauty of the human form. A celebration of movement.

Lodela (1996) was a production for the National Film Board of Canada, and in many ways it acts as a response to (or evolution from) an earlier NFBC film, Norman McLaren’s justly-celebrated Pas de Deux (1968). Both films depict an encounter between two dancers in an abstract black-and-white space; both films also take advantage of their medium to present dance in a manner that would be impossible on a stage. In McLaren’s film the dancers’ movements are multiplied via optical printing, a process that gives their gestures a liquid, hallucinatory grace.

For Lodela Philippe Baylaucq has his dancers (José Navas and Chi Long) situated on an illuminated circle surrounded by the dark, one side of which is shown in negative. He also does some simple things with the camera which are nevertheless strikingly effective and unusual in a dance piece, such as filming the dancers upside down, and attaching the camera to their bodies for dizzying close-ups. Choreographers (and dancers, for that matter) often get agitated if dancers’ bodies aren’t shown in full so this latter piece of direction is very unusual. Watch the film here. Pas de Deux, incidentally, is also on the National Film Board of Canada’s Vimeo channel, and in much better quality than earlier YouTube versions. Watch them together.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Pas de Deux by Norman McLaren
Norman McLaren

 


The recurrent pose 54

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More from the pose that keeps on giving. Big thanks to Lance for sending the photos above and below which identify the Flandrinesque figure from post no. 22 not as a sculpture from Hermosa Beach but a memorial statue in the Cimetière d’Ixelles, Brussels. The eternal hazard of web photos is the erroneous or missing attribution, something I do my best to avoid.

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And speaking of missing attributions, that’s what we have here. This site may be the origin although I’ve seen an earlier page with the same photo. Nice boys, anyway. Thanks to Hal for the tip!

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The recurrent pose archive

 


Intertextuality

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The Call of Cthulhu (1988): in the upper half there’s the big sun from Bob Peak’s poster for Apocalypse Now, in the lower half a radical reworking of Arnold Böcklin’s The Isle of the Dead.

In 1990, shortly after the first season of Twin Peaks had finished showing in the US, Video Watchdog magazine ran a feature by Tim Lucas which attempted to trace all the various cultural allusions in the character names and dialogue: references to old TV shows, song lyrics and the like. This was done in a spirit of celebration with Lucas and other contributors welcoming the opportunity to dig deeper into something they’d already enjoyed. This week we’ve had a similar unravelling of textual borrowings in a TV series, only now we have the internet which, with its boundless appetite for accusing and shaming, can often seem like something from the grand old days of the Cultural Revolution.

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The Call of Cthulhu (1988): a more subtle allusion to Apocalypse Now.

The latest culprit ushered to the front of the assembly for the Great Internet Struggle Session is Nic Pizzolatto whose script for True Detective has indeed been celebrated for its nods to Robert Chambers and The King in Yellow. It’s also in the process of being condemned for having borrowed phrases or aphorisms from Thomas Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against the Human Race (2011). See this post for chapter and verse.

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The Call of Cthulhu (1988): It’s not very clear but that’s a boat from The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

If I find it difficult to get worked up over all this pearl-clutching it’s because a) it shows a misunderstanding of art and the way many artists work, b) True Detective was an outstanding series, and I’d love to see more from Pizzolatto and co, and c) I’ve done more than enough borrowing of my own in a variety of media, as these samples from my adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu demonstrate, a 33-page comic strip where there’s a reference to a painting, artist or film on almost all the pages, sometimes several on the same page.

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The Call of Cthulhu (1988): Ophelia by Millais.

Cthulhu is a good choice here since Pizzolatto’s story edged towards Lovecraft via the repeated “Carcosa” references. You’d think a Lovecraft zine of all things would know better than to haul someone over the coals for borrowing from another writer when Lovecraft himself borrowed from Robert Chambers (and Arthur Machen and others), while “Carcosa” isn’t even original to Chambers’ The King in Yellow but a borrowing from an Ambrose Bierce story, An Inhabitant of Carcosa (1886). Furthermore, Lovecraft famously complained about his own tendencies to pastiche other writers in a 1929 letter to Elizabeth Toldridge: “There are my ‘Poe’ pieces and my ‘Dunsany pieces’—but alas—where are any Lovecraft pieces?”

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Genet art

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Portrait of Jean Genet II (1950) by Leonor Fini.

Artworks depicting Genet or based on his work are more plentiful than I thought. These are some of the better examples. It’s good to know that the great Leonor Fini was one of the earliest portraitists; in addition to painting two pictures of Genet she also produced a series of erotic engravings based on his writings.

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Jean Genet (1952) by Jean Cocteau.

A portrait by Cocteau I hadn’t seen before.

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Portrait of Jean Genet (1955) by Alberto Giacometti.

One of three portraits. Genet speaks favourably of Giacometti in Antoine Bourseiller’s film.

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For Jean Genet (1969) by Anselm Kiefer.

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Flowers: A Pantomime for Jean Genet

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Flowers (1986) by the Lindsay Kemp Company. Photos by Maya Cusell.

Weidmann appeared before you in a five o’clock edition, his head swathed in white bands, a nun and yet a wounded pilot fallen into the rye one September day like the day when the world came to know the name of Our Lady of the Flowers. His handsome face, multiplied by the presses, swept down upon Paris and all of France, to the depths of the most out-of-the-way villages, in castles and cabins, revealing to the mirthless bourgeois that their daily lives are grazed by enchanting murderers, cunningly elevated to their sleep, which they will cross by some back stairway that has abetted them by not creaking. Beneath his picture burst the dawn of his crimes: murder one, murder two, murder three, up to six, bespeaking his secret glory and preparing his future glory.

A little earlier, the Negro Angel Sun had killed his mistress.

A little later, the soldier Maurice Pilorge killed his lover, Escudero, to rob him of something under a thousand francs, then, for his twentieth birthday, they cut off his head while, you will recall, he thumbed his nose at the enraged executioner.

Finally, a young ensign, still a child, committed treason for treason’s sake: he was shot. And it is in honour of their crimes that I am writing my book.

(Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet. Translation by Bernard Frechtman, 1963)

Lindsay Kemp’s all-male version of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé has been the subject of several earlier posts, a production staged in the mid-70s with Kemp himself playing the part of Wilde’s femme fatale. Kemp’s company produced a related work in 1974, Flowers: A Pantomime for Jean Genet, a stage adaptation of Genet’s first novel, Our Lady of the Flowers (1942), in which Kemp played the part of drag queen Divine. Wilde and Genet aren’t so far removed from each other artistically although I can’t imagine them getting on in person. Both men were prisoners, of course, and Our Lady of the Flowers was famously written in prison, the first copy being discovered by a warder and destroyed. There’s a more direct connection in Fassbinder’s Querelle during the scenes where Lysiane (Jeanne Moreau) sings “Each man kills the thing he loves”, the most famous line from Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol which refers to (among other things) one of Genet’s obsessions: the prisoner condemned to death. Wilde would no doubt appreciate Genet’s poetic reimagining of his fellow prisoners, and his use of flowers as symbols; what Genet would have made of Lindsay Kemp’s typically extravagant and rather camp stage creation is anyone’s guess. He did write several plays but in later years evaded questions about them or his novels by claiming to have forgotten all his works. By the 1970s Genet was much more interested in the political struggles of the Black Panthers and the Palestinians.

Much as I like Wilde’s play, given the choice I think I’d prefer to see the Genet staging. Salomé is familiar enough from various stage and film adaptations whereas Flowers was unique. There is a video record of the latter from 1982 but the copy uploaded by Lindsay Kemp has had its soundtrack removed following the usual annoying copyright complaints about the music. So there’s the frustrating choice of watching the whole thing with no sound or watching this 28-minute video compilation of still photos by Maya Cusell from a 1986 performance with music that may be the original live score. One thing the photos show is how close in appearance is Kemp’s Divine to his dancer at the beginning of Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane (1976). In 2012 Kemp talked to Paul Gallagher about his film and stage career, Flowers included.

Update: As noted by radioShirley below, there is a copy of the 1982 performance with full soundtrack!

Previously on { feuilleton }
Querelle de Brest
Jean Genet, 1981
Un Chant d’Amour (nouveau)
Jean Genet… ‘The Courtesy of Objects’
Querelle again
Saint Genet
Emil Cadoo
Exterface
Penguin Labyrinths and the Thief’s Journal
Un Chant D’Amour by Jean Genet

 


 




 

tracker

 


 

“feed your head”

 

Below the fold

 

Penda's Fen by David Rudkin