Cover of How To Destroy Angels (Remixes And Re-Recordings) (1992) by Coil. Artwork: Fine Balance (1986) by Derek Jarman.
• It’s that man again: “According to the late great short story writer Robert Aickman, the problem with our excessively modern world is not that it is strange, but that it is not strange enough.” Scott Bradfield on a writer who can no longer be described as neglected or overlooked.
• Coil may have expired over a decade ago after the death of John Balance but the posthumous releases persist. Latest of these is How To Destroy Angels, an album-length presentation of music (or audio) by Coil and Zos Kia (John Gosling) from 1983/84.
• “Two decades ago, a renowned professor promised to produce a flawless version of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated novels: Ulysses. Then he disappeared.” The Strange Case of the Missing Joyce Scholar.
• At Dangerous Minds: The Fool: The Dutch artists who worked for The Beatles (and made their own freak folk masterpiece). Previously here: The art of Marijke Koger.
• RIP Nick Knox. The Cramps were always best when playing live, as here in 1986 when they performed songs from A Date With Elvis on Channel 4’s The Tube.
• “The McKenzie Tapes is a collection of live audio recordings from some of New York City-area most prominent music venues of the 1980s and 1990s.”
• Beyond the veil: two extracts from Death by Anna Croissant-Rust, one of two new books from Rixdorf Editions.
• Impulse Responses: composer Deru on scoring with the Cristal Baschet.
• Fleshback: Queer Raving in Manchester’s Twilight Zone Chapter 1–3.
• “Puzzler says he has cracked code to stolen Belgian masterpiece.”
• Mix of the week: FACT mix 657 by Beatrice Dillon.
• Death Have Mercy (1959) by Vera Hall | Oh Death (1964) by Dock Boggs | Oh Death (1967) by Kaleidoscope
Arriving in the post this week, a Christmas gift from Supervert, a chapbook featuring a new piece of writing that purports to be the unauthorised biography of American artist/photographer Joel-Peter Witkin. The premise is that the facts of the real Witkin’s life are far too mundane to account for his extraordinary photo tableaux so Supervert supplies details such as “Mary Witkin [his mother] worked as a bookkeeper in a DDT plant, slowly saving to enrich the unfathomable reservoirs of the absurd.” A metaphysical portrait of the artist, then, with echoes of David Lynch or Bruno Schulz. Inside the chapbook was a promo postcard bearing pictures of the delightful Ms. Stoya whose reading of Necrophilia Variations has now gained over four million YouTube views.
The Witkin book isn’t for sale but copies are available to those who enter the Supervert contest which is running throughout December. All you need do is enter an email address here then keep your fingers crossed.
Sanitarium, New Mexico (1983) by Joel-Peter Witkin.
Witkin’s tableaux made an immediate impression circa 1993 when I bought a copy of PhotoVision, a Spanish photography journal which had devoted an entire issue to his work. This arrived at a point when I was halfway through drawing the Reverbstorm comic series, and Witkin’s parade of unorthodox humanity, crucified apes and sundry body parts seemed an ideal complement for the parade of similar grotesqueries (and sundry body parts) we were putting into the comic pages. I also liked the way Witkin worked his own variation on familiar scenes from art history, something we were doing throughout Reverbstorm (Witkin’s Vase: Study For the Base of the Crucifix just happens to combine a partly dissected human skull with Picasso’s Guernica, a recurrent motif throughout the series).
Above and below, some of the more Witkinesque details from part seven of Reverbstorm. The main figure above was a direct reference to Witkin’s Sanitarium, New Mexico. Many figures in other drawings are given Witkin-like blindfolds.
Continue reading “Witkinesque”