Friday, February 13, 2009

Reading (and Documentary) Response Five

1, Chapter 4: What are some of the reasons suggested for Smith’s obsession with Maria Montez? What are some of your responses to the clips from the Montez films (especially Cobra Woman)?

He saw her movies as a kid and and was enthralled by her screen presence. John Vaccaro suggested that the drag queens at the time imitated her because of their extreme admiration of her. Nick Zedd proposes that Maria was related to a romanticized fantasy world of perfection they could idolize. Based on the clips shown, I agree that she wasn't a great actor. The scenes from Cobra Woman remind me a lot of Jack Smith's photography with the vibrant colors and exoctic themes. Her movements also seemed to resemble Smith's movements on stage.

2, Chapter 5: What were some attributes of the New York art community in the 1960s, and what was the relationship between the economics of the time and the materials that Smith incorporated in to his work and films? [How could Smith survive and make art if he was so poor in the city so big they named it twice?]

The different groups of people were very close, especially the artists. One woman described some of the different groups as the whites, the blacks, and the artists. Many people, especially Simth, were poor and unable to put a lot of money into their art. Smith was able to use anything he found and incorporate it into his art. One person mentioned some kind of plastic crate he found and put in front of the camera for a shot in Flaming Creatures.

3, Chapter 6: What problems emerged after the obscenity charges against Flaming Creatures in the relationship between Jack Smith and Jonas Mekas? What metaphor emerged from the conflict between Smith and Mekas?

Smith seemed to believe that Mekas was only interested in money and took people's art so he could make a profit. He began calling Mekas the lobster.

4, Chapter 7: What is John Zorn’s argument about Normal Love? How does his argument relate to some of the changes in the New York art world in the 1960s that we discussed in class? What are some arguments made about the influence of Jack Smith on other filmmakers (besides Warhol)?

Zorn says the real attraction would have been the filming of Normal Love. He said the filming should have had an audience. This is like Fluxus films where the activity is often appreciated more then the finsihed product. John Waters says that other people took his ideas and became more successful with them. This is likely due to the fact that the other artists weren't as opposed to the commercial side of film as Smith was.

6, Chapter 9 and 10: In what ways did Jack Smith become “uncommercial film personified”? What is meant by the slogan, “no more masterpieces” and how did Smith resist commodification (or the production of art products)?

After Flaming Creatures and the trouble it caused, Jack Smith, I think purposefully, never finished anything. This is what I think "no more masterpieces" refers too. Many people seemed to like Normal Love but since it was never finished, no particular version of the film could really be called "the official Normal Love" and studied and analyzed as easily as the other films. This also defied commodification beacause since nothing was finsihed, there was nothing to sell.

7. Name at least three important friends/relationships Barbara Rubin had in the world of art and music in the early 1960s.

Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, Jonas Mekas, Bob Dylan, the Velvet Underground, and P. Adams Sitney were all friends and collaborators of Rubin.

8. Briefly describe Rubin's production and exhibiton practices for Christmas on Earth. Why does Belasco argue that Christmas on Earth cannot be reproduced electronically or in other forms?

She gathered five of her friends in her house, randomly shot the orgy, and spent three months randomly editing the footage. She made two separate reels for two simultaneous projections of unequal sizes. The second reel is projected over the first at about 1/3 the original size. Rubin screened the film on the celing and walls of Warhol's factory and would sometimes show the film's reels separately with one reel projected upside down. It would also be shown at Exploding Plastic Inevitable performances and over other people's films.
Belasco argues that Christmas on Earth cannot be reproduced electronically or in other forms partly because of the variety of ways in which it can be shown and because one of Rubin's instructions for screening the film calls for it to be played with loud, live rock radio, commercials included, as the soundtrack. This ensures that no two screenings of Christmas on Earth will be the same. Belasco says that because of this any attempt at capturing a screening will only result in one variation of Christmas on Earth. He compares this to the orginality found in each performance in dance and theater.

1 comment:

  1. Good job.

    After the Waters quote, the film cuts to a Waters clip, suggesting that he also made money off of Smith's ideas. Kind of a cheap shot filmmaking wise, but Waters would acknowledge the influence.

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