Friday, August 24, 2007

Afternoon into Evening

Film is escapism. Both making them and viewing them.

Ten years ago I saw my first Warhol film, Chelsea Girls, at the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. Ducking out of a rare Siberian freeze that had blasted through the south of Italy, I watched the entire double-screen projection of Chelsea Girls and realized that Warhol's contribution to the underground film scene was probably more important than any of the pop art stuff he was gaining notoriety for. "Eavesdropping on eventlessness" was the way someone once described some of Warhol's films. Now, with webcam performance art and Youtube voyeurism being so de rigeur, it's no wonder Warhol's film work is experiencing a huge critical-art boom, as is especially evidenced by the most complete retrospective of his film work ever coordinated in one location (BFI Southbank in London).

(Ten years before viewing Chelsea Girls, I was in Mexico City, hiding out from the dust and pollution that was compounded by a big earthquake that tumbled and fragmented many buildings throughout the city. That time, the arthouse theater was in the Zona Rosa and the film that kept playing over and over again was In the Realm of the Senses. With my own senses awash in allergic reaction to the thick city dust, I stayed inside the movie house and saw Oshima's film loop three times straight.)

Yesterday, almost ten years after having viewed Chelsea Girls in Sicily, and running away from the miserable London weather full of classic dreary grey skies and endless pissing from the sky, I ducked back into BFI and saw Warhol's Afternoon, which supposedly consists of the footage that was cut from Chelsea Girls at Edie Sedgwick's request. The movie embodies what Susan Sontag wrtote about in her investigation of "camp" (Warhol was friends with Sontag who was the subject of one of his Screen Tests and he even made a movie entitled Camp). Now with the recent movie about Edie and all of the Youtube wannabe superstars, not to mention the endless travails of Paris Hilton, America really is becoming an Edienation. I mean, who wouldn't want to become a "girl on fire"? And don't you know Edie would have loved all of the attention, especially from the art world?

Warhol, with his meticuluous diaries having a blog-like flavor to them (minus the links), anticipates Web 2.0 like no other artist before him. He was flickring his in-crowd party animals and promoting the phoniness of his myspace "friends" faster than he could accumulate them all in his Factory inbox. Except now the Edie-styled IT girl is lost in the past and the lonelygirl15 takes her place as scripted farce. Apparently, this is the price one must pay for wanting to "make it"...

No one said that being successful would be easy and if you can't really be a poor little rich girl like Edie truly was, then you may as well role-play one on Youtopian TV.

Who knows -- maybe one day you will be discovered.

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