Leonora Carrington and the House of Fear

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Kim Evans’ 50-minute TV profile of Leonora Carrington finally turned up on YouTube in December, in a slightly truncated copy. I taped this when it was first broadcast by the BBC in November 1992, and had the foresight to digitise it before my video recorder stopped working, but I’ve never wanted a YT account so I resisted the urge to upload it myself. If I was going to do so I’d offer things to Ubuweb instead, but I haven’t managed that either.

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Leonora Carrington and the House of Fear was shown a few months after Carrington’s paintings had been the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London, two events that made nonsense of Tate Modern’s subsequent labelling of her as a “lost” artist. Most artists would be happy to be described as “lost” if it meant being given almost an hour of screen-time on BBC 1 together with a retrospective show at a major London gallery. Describing Carrington as “lost” was a convenient way for the Tate and any art critics playing catch-up to sidestep their having ignored her work for decades. (Joanna Moorhead embarrassed Tate Modern about this neglect in 2007.) Surrealism lost its avant-garde status in the late 1940s, and became increasingly disreputable thanks in part to Salvador Dalí’s prominence and self-promotion. There were Surrealist exhibitions in London prior to 1992—notably the expansive Dada and Surrealism show at the Hayward Gallery in 1978—but the British art and literary world has always been suspicious of an excess of imagination, the very thing that’s too the fore in Kim Evans’ film. This follows the standard BBC template of the time, combining a biographical sketch with a view of the artist’s day-to-day life which here includes a visit to a crypt full of mummified corpses, and a lesson in how to make egg tempera. Marina Warner championed Carrington’s art and writing throughout the “lost” years, and she turns up briefly to offer some comment.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Temptations
The Secret Life of Edward James
Leonora Carrington, 1917–2011

Weekend links 435

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An illustration by “Lapthorn” for Little Green Apples: the Chronicle of a Fallen Man (1930) by Geoffrey Moss.

Jean-Michel Jarre & Michel Granger: how we made Oxygène. “[It] was initially rejected by record company after record company. They all said: ‘You have no singles, no drummer, no singer, the tracks last 10 minutes and it’s French!’ Even my mother said: ‘Why did you name your album after a gas and put a skull on the cover?'”

• “When we ignore or demean consensual BDSM erotica, or stories about female sexual submission, we inadvertently contribute to a cultural legacy that routinely pathologizes, demeans, or erases women’s sexual desires.” Hayley Phelan on why we need erotica.

• “More than a literal reconstruction of an imagined collaboration between Eno and Morricone, Ghost Box opens a door onto a world where ambient music and country-western make for natural bedfellows.” Ghost Box (Expanded) by Suss.

Peter Bebergal and Janaka Stucky discuss Bebergal’s new book, Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural. There’s more at the Occulture podcast.

Great Noises That Fill The Air (1988), an album by Bow Gamelan Ensemble, receives its first release on CD next month. Related: the group in 1987 staging one of their pyrotechnic performances.

• Mixes of the week: Bleep Mix #45 by Lawrence English & William Basinski – Casting Voices Mixtape, DJ Food Solid Steel mix by Matt Berry, and The Séance – 13th October 2018.

• “…the social position filled by art and aesthetics is increasingly best understood in terms of magic.” Marina Warner and Eleanor Birne discuss forms of enchantment.

• From 2104: Ten little tales of terror for late of a Halloween night by Levi Stahl.

Words I Heard by Julian Holter

The Cosmodrome Futurists

Urban Gamelan (Pt. 1) (1984) by 23 Skidoo | Chez Les Futuristes Russes (1984) by Aksak Maboul | Oxygen (1997) by Gas

Weekend links 402

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Cover art for the 1921 edition by W. Otway Cannell.

• “An exiled recluse, an ancient abode in the remote west of Ireland, nightly attacks by malevolent swine-things from a nearby pit, and cosmic vistas beyond time and space. The House on the Borderland has been praised by China Miéville, Terry Pratchett, and Clark Ashton Smith, while HP Lovecraft wrote, ‘Few can equal [Hodgson] in adumbrating the nearness of nameless forces and monstrous besieging entities through casual hints and significant details, or in conveying feelings of the spectral and abnormal.’

“‘Almost from the moment that you hear the title,’ observes Alan Moore, ‘you are infected by the novel’s weird charisma. Knock and enter at your own liability.’ The House on the Borderland remains one of Hodgson’s most celebrated works. This new edition features an introduction by Alan Moore, an afterword by Iain Sinclair, and illustrations by John Coulthart.” The long-gestating illustrated edition of William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland is now available for pre-order from Swan River Press. This is limited to 350 copies so I’d advise anyone interested to order as soon as they can; there’s been a lot of interest in the edition, and with the print run being a small one it’s liable to sell out quickly.

• “Art et Liberté was a movement that came into being in 1938 in Cairo. It was affiliated to Surrealism through contact with André Breton in Paris, and shared Surrealism’s spirit of rebellion and provocation, its desire for dream knowledge and penchant for manifestos.” Marina Warner on the neglected history of Egyptian Surrealism.

• Titan Comics follow their recent collection of Philippe Druillet’s first six Lone Sloane stories with Gail, a book which I don’t think has received an English translation until now.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 641 by Alva Noto, a mix by Chris Carter for Bleep/NTS, and Through A Landscape Of Mirrors Vol. I: Sweden by David Colohan.

• 200 years after the first publication of Frankenstein, the city of Bath is to unveil a plaque commemorating Mary Shelley‘s time spent there while writing the book.

• Southern Lord co-founder Gregg Anderson talks to Red Bull Radio about running a record label devoted to avant-garde metal.

• Twelve illustrated dust jackets from Martin Salisbury’s The Illustrated Dust Jacket: 1920–1970.

• At MetaFilter: Links to Hokusai’s drawing guides and similar books.

Canada Modern

Grief (1999) by Tactile | In The Cellar (2005) by Nostalgia | The House On The Borderland (2008) by Electric Wizard

Weekend links 398

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Untitled art by Felix D’Eon. Via Dangerous Minds.

• “The music inside lived up to the cover’s challenge: a collage of pop-culture nostalgia, hard-rock guitar, piano-driven melodies, stylised high vocals, strange musical structures and experimental sound pictures. Roxy Music’s eponymous album sounded like nothing else in 1971 and 1972—and like nothing else the group would ever attempt again.” Jon Savage on the creation of Roxy Music’s debut album.

• Behind the scenes of the BFI’s forthcoming Derek Jarman box-sets. Jarman appears in a rare acting role (not one of his strengths) in Dead Cat (1989) a short film by David Lewis which is only now being released on DVD.

• Rob Young’s long-awaited book about Cologne’s finest, Can, has finally been given a publication date. All Gates Open: The Story of Can will be published by Faber in May.

• At the Lever Gallery, London: UNCOVERED: Illustrating the Sixties and Seventies. Wallpaper magazine has a related feature about the exhibition.

Trim Tabroid [sic]: Yui Takada’s Instagram showing Japanese tabloid pages reduced to abstraction by careful pruning.

• On Fairy Tales: Carol Mavor and Marina Warner in discussion for the London Review Bookshop podcast.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R podcast 527 by Peter Van Hoesen, and Secret Thirteen Mix 245 by Chikiss.

• Dubbing is a Must: Oli Warwick on the modern sound of leftfield dub.

This Book Is Bound in Lab-Grown Jellyfish Leather.

Cornelius’s Favourite Albums

Dubism (1976) by The Upsetters | Dub Fi Gwan (1979) by King Tubby | Dub Yalil (1995) by Natacha Atlas

Weekend links 374

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Le Chasseur by Lupe Vasconcelos who was profiled this week at Unquiet Things, and whose work may also be seen at the Ars Necronomica art show in Providence, RI, until the end of the month.

• “After a morning’s writing, Stevenson would entertain himself with music, particularly the flageolet, which he played so badly ‘people fled from the sound’.” Peter Moore reviewing Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa by Joseph Farrell.

• Jon Hassell’s 1981 album, Dream Theory in Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two, will be reissued next month.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 228 by Arma Agharta, FACT Mix 614 by Do Make Say Think.

Yet, entertaining as all this is, in a macabre key, the dead are hard to think about—and, in many ways, to read about. Unlike animals, which Lévi-Strauss declared were not only good to eat but bon à penser, too, I found that I averted my eyes, so to speak, several times as I was reading this book. Not because of the infinite and irreversible sadness of mortality, or because of the grue, the fetor, the decay, the pervasive morbidity—though Laqueur’s gallows humour about scientific successes in the calcination of corpses can be a bit strong—but because the dead present an enigma that can’t be grasped: they are always there in mind, they come back in dreams, live in memory, and if they don’t, if they’re forgotten as so many millions of them must be, that is even more disturbing, somehow reprehensible. The disappeared are the unquietest ghosts. Simone Weil writes that the Iliad is a poem that shows how “force…turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him.” But Laqueur is surely right to inquire why that thing, the “disenchanted corpse…bereft, vulnerable, abject”, is a very different kind of thing from the cushion I am sitting on or even my iPad (which keeps giving signs of a mind of its own). I have always liked Mme du Deffand’s comment, when asked if she believed in ghosts. A philosopher and a free thinker, she even so replied: “Non, mais j’en ai peur.” (“No, but I am frightened of them.”)

Marina Warner reviewing The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains by Thomas Laqueur

New Worlds magazine at the Internet Archive. Not a complete run but it’s a start.

Brigit Katz on breakthroughs in the scientific search to replicate psilocybin.

• The relaunched (and slightly renamed) Manchester Digital Music Archive.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Robert Altman Day (restored/expanded).

• RM Rhodes presents the art of Philippe Druillet.

Fragile Self

Dream Lover (1964) by The Paris Sisters | Dream Street (1966) by Henry Mancini | Dream Letter (1969) by Tim Buckley