Weekend links 90

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Portrait of Dr. Ignacio Chavez (1957) by Remedios Varo (1908–1963) some of whose Surrealist paintings can be seen at Frey Norris, San Francisco, from 19th January. There’s also In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 29th January.

The current crop of Republicans jostling for the Presidential nomination have reminded me of the Downunder people in Harlan Ellison’s post-apocalypse novella A Boy and His Dog (1969): a retrograde, fear-ridden community who send troublesome individuals to be exterminated at “the farm”. Rick Santorum (unforgettably pictured here with family in 2006 after losing an election) almost received the majority of Iowa’s votes for his nomination last week, prompting renewed scrutiny of his negative views about gay people, sexually active people, foreign people (especially Arabs and Mexicans), and anyone generally who isn’t a white, Catholic, Downunder person. Santorum is against gay marriage, of course—it’s hard to find a Republican who isn’t—but he also wants to ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and given the opportunity would allow US states to prevent any use of contraception. Add to this his pro-torture stance (which offends current Catholic church policy), and his willingness to wage war with Iran, and it’s easy to see why his name prompts reactions such as this:

I have a history with Rick Santorum. In 2003, when Santorum, in an interview with the Associated Press, first compared gay relationships to child rape and dog fucking (have I mentioned that Santorum has compared gay relationships to child rape and dog fucking?), I held a contest to redefine Santorum‘s last name. The winning definition: “the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” (“Sometimes” is the most important word in the new definition of santorum; if you’re doing anal sex correctly, there won’t be any santorum – lower- or upper-case.) And since 2003, the new definition has been the No. 1 Google return when you search “santorum“.

Rick Santorum’s homophobic frothing by Dan Savage

Related: Santorum was named one of the three “most corrupt” Senators in 2006 | “Homohater fosser fram” which is how Dagbladet, Norway’s second largest tabloid newspaper, introduces Santorum to its readers | “Rick Santorum channels Saint Augustine” an article at Slate exploring the Handmaid’s Tale extent of Santorum‘s attitudes towards sex and morality | Rick Santorum quotes as New Yorker cartoons.

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The Rod (1973) by Brigid Marlin.

• Ballardian posts a long-overdue interview with Brigid Marlin, famous now for having brought two lost Paul Delvaux paintings back to life for JG Ballard, but also a woman with an extensive career as a fantastic artist using Ernst Fuchs‘s laborious mische painting technique.

Quentin Blake on Ronald Searle, in which Blake notes that his hero was given a full-scale exhibition of his work at the Bibliothèque Nationale, France, in 1973 whilst being ignored throughout his life by the major institutions in Britain.

Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life by Alastair Brotchie is reviewed by Michael Moorcock who tells me the Guardian cut out his references to Boris Vian, Maurice Richardson and David Britton.

Ian McKellen stirs things up by suggesting (not for the first time) that Shakespeare was bisexual.

• Ten posters by Only More Never Less inspired by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

An end to bad heir days: The posthumous power of the literary estate.

Peace Eye! Fug! A Long Talk With Ed Sanders.

• Sand sculptures by Carl Jara.

Letterheady

• Skylab: These Are The Blues (1995) | Beyond The Breeze (1995) | Red Light, Blue Light (1995) | Indigo (Sabres of Paradise remix, 1995) | Seashell (Nobukazu Takemura mix, 1995).

Klapheck versus Ballard

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left: The Hostage (1966); right: The Female Terrorist (1971). Both by Konrad Klapheck.

No, I’m not suggesting that David Pelham’s paintings for the Ballard covers he designed in the 1970s are inspired by the earlier work of German artist Konrad Klapheck. But it’s tempting to think of Klapheck’s isolated objects as being intended for Ballard collections that never saw the light of day. Klapheck has connections with late Surrealism, and some of his paintings prefigure the styles and concerns of Pop Art, so I’m sure Ballard would have approved.

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Three of Pelham’s memorable Ballard paintings were made available as signed and numbered prints earlier this year, together with his design for A Clockwork Orange. For more about the covers see Landscapes From a Dream: How the Art of David Pelham Captured the Essence of JG Ballard’s Early Fiction, an essay at Ballardian. The designer discussed his career at some length in 2007. Then there’s the complete set of covers at the Penguin Science Fiction site, and let’s not forget Konrad Klapheck who’s still painting and who has a website here.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The book covers archive

Weekend links 79

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Neville Brody creates a cover design for an issue of the V&A magazine tied to the museum’s current exhibition, Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970–1990. Brody’s comment amused me for the way he smartly explained the thinking behind the design whilst also distancing himself from its theme:

For me, Post Modernism felt like a kind of facade built to cover over the cracks of a divided world, a surface of plucked effects and stylistic devices emptied of meaning, an extrusion of hollow traces and flat outlines forcing 2D into apparent depth. I was never a Post Modernist, rather a Modernist exploring humanist lines of enquiry in the collapsing world behind a wall of decoration.

• It’s a common thing today to give images from the past a queer reappraisal, finding homoerotic qualities in pictures which, when they were made, would have seemed free of any sexual subtext. This post finds such a subtext in recruitment posters for US armed forces although none of the examples are as overt as this wartime magazine ad. Over at Front Free Endpaper Callum notes that many vintage photos which people regard today as evidence of gay relationships are unlikely to be quite that. The photo he posts, however, really does appear to show a pair of men who were more than just good friends.

• A play by Ororo Productions of HP Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror will be staged at the London Horror Festival from October 25th. Related: Horror Made Delightful: The Strange Stories of Sheridan Le Fanu, MR James, and Robert Aickman. “Aickman never spells out his meaning,” says Greer Mansfield, “His stories end abruptly and inconclusively, and in fact the ‘meaning’ is less important than the utter mysteriousness of what happens.” Which is just what some of us enjoy.

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Black Beauty, a decorated horse skull by Julia deVille.

• “Jackpot is a comedic short film about a 14-year-old gay boy in 1994 who sets off on a quest to find a stash of gay porn and get it home before anyone finds out.” Director Adam Baran is requesting completion funds at Kickstarter.

Gendai Shogyo Bijutsu Zenshu (The Complete Commercial Artist), published in Tokyo from 1927 to 1930.

Ishac Bertran tries some analogue sampling by chopping up vinyl discs with a laser cutter.

Steve Jobs does LSD and The Residents pay tribute to Steve Jobs.

• A rare post at Ballardian: Outpost 13: The Atrocity Exhibition.

• It’s all fun and games until Charles Manson turns up…again.

The Edgar Allan Poe Portfolio (1976) by Berni Wrightson.

• RIP David Bedford and Bert Jansch.

John Waters: Roles of a Lifetime.

Octopi Wall Street!

Homocomix.

Poison (1969) by Bert Jansch | Pentangle at the BBC (1970): Train Song | House Carpenter | Hunting Song | Light Flight

Chernobyl’s zone of alienation

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Chernobyl/Pripyat (2011) by Paul Curry.

Everyone’s favourite irradiated town, Pripyat in the Ukraine, has been in the news again now that twenty-five years have passed since the the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. This photo of the area by Paul Curry is part of a panorama (with the nuclear plant in the distance) taken from a rootop on a clear day. Most photos of the site show the now-familiar abandoned buildings, empty playgrounds and so on; Curry’s view taken on 29th May this year is remarkable for showing how overgrown the place has become.

Chernobyl has become indelibly twinned with Andrei Tarkovsky’s masterwork of grimy science fiction, Stalker (1979), and the novel upon which the film was based, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic, a mesh of connections I explored in an earlier post. Darren Nisbett’s series of photos currently showing at the Rhubarb and Custard gallery, Berkshire, are good examples of how Stalker-like the place is now looking. Nisbett calls his series, many of which are infra-red views, Chernobyl’s Zone of Alienation although there’s no indication of whether he’s alluding to the hazardous Strugatsky/Tarkovsky “Zone”. The photos are on display until the end of this month, and the prints are for sale. The Independent has a gallery feature about the exhibition here.

Update: Simon Sellars from Ballardian alerts me to this blog which is currently running reports from a visit to the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Rerberg and Tarkovsky: The Reverse Side Of “Stalker”
The slow death of modernism
The Stalker meme

Elizabeth Taylor, 1932–2011

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Remember her for her incomparable beauty, her great performances in great films, the camp confections like Cleopatra and Boom, and years of activism on behalf of gay people:

There is no gay agenda, it’s a human agenda. Why shouldn’t gay people be able to live as open and freely as everybody else? What it comes down to, ultimately, is love. How can anything bad come out of love? The bad stuff comes out of mistrust, misunderstanding and, God knows, from hate and from ignorance.

It would also be remiss of me (since no obituaries will be tasteless enough to mention it) if I didn’t note her presence at the heart of one of the more notorious novels of the past fifty years. I often used to wonder whether anyone had told her about Crash. Not that she’d want to know about it if they did; who would be eager to read detailed plans for their own horrific death? But it was her status as a 20th century icon, the nonpareil of film stardom, that made her the perfect choice as the focus of Vaughan’s obsessions in Ballard’s novel.

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Elizabeth Taylor: a career in clips
RIP Elizabeth Taylor: A Ballardian Primer