Weekend links 517

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Edward James by René Magritte; La Reproduction Interdite (1937).

• “James was filmed in the late 1970s, striding round Las Pozas in a sweater and a tattered dressing-gown, surmounted by parrots (The Secret Life of Edward James can be seen on YouTube). When asked what motivated him, he replied: ‘Pure megalomania!’ He was having his second childhood, he said, though he wasn’t sure the first had ever ended.” Mike Jay on lifelong Surrealist, Edward James (1907–1984), and the concrete fantasia he built in the Mexican jungle.

• “I found the roots of electronic music in a cupboard!” Musician Paul Purgas (one half of Emptyset) on the discovery of early electronic music from India’s National Institute Of Design. Related: Purgas talks about his discovery with Patrick Clarke.

• RIP Phil May. Here’s The Pretty Things in their guise as psych band “Electric Banana” for an appearance in What’s Good for the Goose (1969). A decent moment in an otherwise terrible film.

• Music is a memory machine: David Toop explores how the transmission of music between disparate cultures can be a tool against populism and prejudice.

• Kraftwerk’s remarkable journey, and where it took us: Bob Boilen and Geeta Dayal discuss the tanzmusik of Düsseldorf.

• At Dangerous Minds: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy: Fifty years ago The Cockettes turned drag upside down.

Hua Hsu on the secret lives of fungi: “They shape the world—and offer lessons for how to live in it”.

• The great writer who never wrote: Emma Garman on the flamboyant Stephen Tennant.

• Cult 1998 PlayStation game LSD: Dream Emulator is finally playable in English.

Jim Jupp of Ghost Box records talks about the Intermission compilation album.

Jonathan Moodie on psychoactive cinema and sacred animation.

Alex Barrett on where to begin with Akira Kurosawa.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Skeletons.

Skeleton Makes Good (1982) by Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band | Red Skeletons (1996) by Coil | Kids Will Be Skeletons (2003) by Mogwai

Tuxedomoon: some queer connections

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UK poster insert by Patrick Roques for Desire (1981).

Yes, more Tuxedomoon: there’s a lot to explore. It’s always a pleasure when something that you enjoy one medium connects to things that interest you elsewhere. From the outset Tuxedomoon have had more than their share of connections to gay culture—to writers especially—but it’s more of an ongoing conversation than any kind of proselytising concern. This post teases out those connections some of which I hadn’t spotted myself until I started delving deeper.

The Angels of Light: Not the Michael Gira group but an earlier band of musicians and performers in San Francisco in the early 1970s. The Angels of Light formed out of performance troupe The Cockettes following a split between those who wanted to charge admission for their shows, and those who wanted to keep things free to all. Among the troupe there was Steven Brown, soon to be a founding member of Tuxedomoon:

The group began as an offshoot of The Angels of Light, ‘a “family” of dedicated artists who sang, danced, painted and sewed for the Free Theater’, says Steve Brown. ‘I was lucky to be part of the Angels—I fell for a bearded transvestite in the show and moved in with him at the Angels’ commune. Gay or bi men and women who were themselves works of art, extravagant in dress and behaviour, disciples of Artaud and Wilde and Julian Beck [of the Living Theater] … we lived together in a big Victorian house … pooled all our disability cheques each month, ate communally … and used the rest of the funds to produce lavish theatrical productions—never charging a dime to the public. This is what theatre was meant to be: a Dionysian rite of lights and music and chaos and Eros.’

Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds

(Special Treatment For The) Family Man (1979): A sombre commentary from the Scream With A View EP on the trial of Dan White, the assassin of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. White’s “special treatment” in court led to a conviction for manslaughter which in turn resulted in San Francisco’s White Night riots in May, 1979.

James Whale (1980): An instrumental on the first Tuxedomoon album, Half-Mute, all sinister electronics and tolling bells as befits a piece named after a director of horror films. Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is not only the best of the Universal horror series, it’s also commonly regarded as a subversive examination of marriage and the creation of life from a gay perspective. (Whale’s friends and partner disagreed, however.)

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Cover art by Winston Tong.

Joeboy San Francisco (1981): The Joeboy name was lifted from a piece of San Francisco graffiti to become a name for Tuxedomoon’s DIY philosophy. It’s also a record label name, the name of an early single, and a side project of the group which in 1981 produced Joeboy In Rotterdam / Joeboy San Francisco. The SF side features a collage piece by Winston Tong based on The Wild Boys by William Burroughs, a key inspiration for the band which first surfaces here.

In one piece, the band cites its influences as: “burroughs, bowie, camus, cage, eno, moroder”. Can you say what you admired or drew on vis-à-vis these artists?

William S. Burroughs — ideas concerning use of media — tapes, projections, his radical anti-control politic in general as well as his outspoken gayness. Early on we duplicated on stage one of his early experiments projecting films of faces onto faces.

Simon Reynolds interview with Steven Brown

Continue reading “Tuxedomoon: some queer connections”

Weekend links 137

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Self-portrait by Jon Jacobsen from his Home series.

Steven Arnold: Cabinet of Curiosities is “a retrospective exhibition of this groundbreaking yet under-recognized queer artist at the ONE Archives Gallery & Museum in West Hollywood. The exhibition celebrates Arnold’s radical imagination, presenting many of his tableaux vivant photographs alongside never before exhibited drawings, sketchbooks, paintings and original poster art. In conjunction with the exhibition, ONE will screen Arnold’s four films, including Luminous Procuress (1970), which featured The Cockettes and was lauded by Salvador Dalí.” The exhibition runs to  January 12, 2013.

• “The boundary-pushing techno/sound design duo Emptyset will transform London’s cavernous industrial space Ambika P3 into an immersive sound installation for one night only—and here’s how they’re going to do it”.

• “At one time he was a well-known figure in Montparnasse, where he had a reputation as a master of the occult sciences.” Aleister Crowley is interviewed about his expulsion from France in 1929.

Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded… [T]hey forbid our premature closing of accounts with reality.

William James (1842–1910) quoted in What Should We Do With Our Visions of Heaven—and Hell? by John Horgan at Scientific American.

Screws is an album of piano music by Nils Frahm that’s currently available as a free download (inc. aiffs).

• At Pinterest: Art Visonnaire. Related: Ain’t We Got Fun: The magical surrealism of Jen Ray.

Rowan Somerville “challenges the purpose and legitimacy” of the Bad Sex Awards.

Jimmy’s End: the website for the film by Alan Moore & Mitch Jenkins.

Douglas Rushkoff in conversation with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.

• Linda Rodriguez McRobbie explores The History of Boredom.

• Recreating the sounds of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Alchemical Emblems, Occult Diagrams, and Memory Arts.

Rocaille: A Blog about Decadence, Kitsch and Godliness.

• A new video for Goddess Eyes II by Julia Holter.

• The complete audio recordings of Jean Cocteau.

The Rumpus interview with Russ Kick.

Forgotten Bookmarks

• RIP Spain Rodriguez

Astradyne (1980) by Ultravox (produced by Conny Plank) | Biomutanten (1981) by Les Vampyrettes (Conny Plank & Holger Czukay) | Never Gonna Cry Again (1981) by Eurythmics (feat. Holger Czukay, produced by Conny Plank).

Flamboyant excess: the art of Steven Arnold

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Invitation to Yin and Yang by Steven Arnold.

“Less is NOT more, MORE is more, less is less.”

Steven Arnold

Thanks to Monsieur Thombeau for pointing the way to The Steven Arnold Archive, a respository of biographical and career detail about Steven Arnold (1943–1994):

…a California-based multi-media artist, spiritualist, gender bender, and protégée of Salvador Dalí. His work consisted of drawings, paintings, rock and film posters, makeup design, costume design, set design, photography, and film.

Arnold’s work with outrageous performance troupe The Cockettes seems to receive more attention today than his other creations so it’s good to see the balance being redressed. It was a surprise, for instance, to find he’d drawn a poster in 1967 for The Matrix club, San Francisco. Similar works are mentioned but the site doesn’t have any examples and I’ve yet to see any elsewhere.

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And I haven’t seen the Cockettes film, Luminous Procuress (1971) either. Salvador Dalí unsurprisingly responded with enthusiasm to its atmosphere of androgynous weirdness:

Luminous Procuress is an altogether extraordinary, individualistic phantasmagoria. It was filmed entirely in San Francisco over a two-year period, and describes the adventures of two wandering youths in San Francisco who visit the home of a mysterious woman, the Procuress. She is an elegant emblem of sorcery, her vivid features glowing under bizarre, striking maquillage, and one is not certain who she is or where she intends to lead the protagonists. Although the language she speaks is vaguely Russian, it appears that the Procuress has psychic powers. She discerns a sympathetic response to her on the part of the youths, and by magical means, conducts them through fantastic rooms, on a psychic journey… (more)

Definitely one for the future viewing list. Meanwhile, one of Arnold’s tableaux photos, The Advantages of Modern Marriage, is currently on display in Cruising the Archive: Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, 1945–1980 at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles. The exhibition runs to April 1st, 2012.

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James Bidgood