Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

LOOK: Tripped out folk icon, from Kiev

The Blessed Virgin of Pechersk, mid. 19th century

I added this one to the collection today. It is from a Kiev school of folk painters; they used funky curve-linear lines, explosive colors and floral patterns vs. the stolid aesthetics of traditional Orthodox iconography.

...currently researching patterns of fungi ingestion in the region.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Hütz homecoming, Gogol Bordello in Lviv

I am into Eugene Hutz and his music. His life story is the stuff of movies. From the Chernobyl evacuation and gypsy wanderings to his performances at Tate Modern, Whitney and the Venice Biennial. What shitty, marginalized band doesn't look up to him? And the music... so rich. 

Last week, Gogol Bordello was in Lviv... Hutz tossed frisbees, broke a few mic stands and spoke Ukrainian to his fans from the homeland. The sets were inspired and it was a great show. From various U-tubers:

Start Wearing Purple, everyone bounces @ 1:51

The beautiful insanity 

Tribal Connection w/extended dub break at 2:10

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

WATCH: Arthropoda animation, "The Cameraman's Revenge" (1912) by Wladyslaw Starewicz

Killing bugs for the screen

Another regional cinematic obscurity, Russian-born Wladyslaw Starewicz: etymologist-filmmaker and stop motion pioneer.

Yes, bug vs. camera... something had to give for this guy. And his method of animation was pragmatic genius. Stymied by an inability to control his shelled subjects, eureka was found in the form of stop-motioned dead. He in fact removed the limbs of grasshoppers, beetles, dragonflies and the like and then supplemented them with wax prosthetics, which were manipulated between takes. The results were singular, effective and influential (if not more than a little creepy). 

"The Cameraman's Revenge" (1912, 13 minutes) is his first short with a narrative. And it is as cynical as you would expect when having dead bugs as the players: 

"It is about infidelity among the insects, a topic which dare I say has never before or after been attempted on film.

It opens with Mr. Beetle going to town "on business," to stop at "The Gay Dragonfly," a burlesque parlor.

He meets a dancer who he takes to a hotel room... the grasshopper at left wanted her too, though, and he is mad at the beetle's rudeness... he's also got a movie camera!"

There is a shrewd plot twist that I won't reveal:

WATCH: Freakish Soviet horror film, Viy (1967)WATCH: Surrealist stop motion, Street of Crocodiles (1986) by the Brothers Quay

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Curating the Uncanny #2: Philip-Lorca diCorcia, old and new

Eddie Anderson (1990)

...from hustlers and prostitutes to pole-bound strippers and random wanderes, diCorcia still suspending and crystalizing fringe realities: 

Brent Booth (1990-1992)

Ike Cole (1990-1992)

Hannah (2008)

Head #7 (2001)

Andrea (2008)

Curators of the Uncanny #1: Ralph Eugene Meatyard
NEGLIGENT HERO #1: Paul McCarthy, clip from Painter (1995)
NEGLIGENT HERO #4: Tod Browning, wedding celebration from Freaks (1932)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Roots of Digital Technology and Revolution: Tweets, texts and internet in the former Eastern Bloc

The world's first 'Twitter Revolution,' Chisinau, April 2009.

Last night I was talking Iran with some Ukrainians who took part in their own Color Revolution, the 2004 Orange version. Between sips of a bitter local brew, they reminisced about realtime reporting and SMS strategies like they were old school- like, sooo... pre-Twitter.

Overblown as the role of digital technology in protest movements seems to be (vs. will, access, funding, education...), their histories must indeed be instructive for the current moment.
And the strategies of this "first online revolution" have been explored in detail by Harvard Internet and Democracy guru Joshua Goldstein, here

Ukraine's elaborate 2004 election protests were among the first to be organized with the help of the internet (photo by Janice Papar).

Protester's now famous Tent City on Kiev's main avenue during the 2004 Orange Revolution (photo by Janice Papar).

Meanwhile, five years and a few color revolutions later, Andrew from Romania at Web Upd8 mused, "If you asked me about the prospects of a Twitter driven revolution in a lo-tech country like Moldova a week ago, my answer would probably be a qualified 'no.' Today, however, I am no longer certain."

Twitter was incorporated into the Moldavian protest strategy months before Iran.

That was on April 7th, months before the current Twitter-fueled situation in Iran began to unfold. Moldavian reformers had already added to the Ukrainian model. And the results were mixed. More on the role of Twitter, texts and blogs, etc. in Moldova's 2009 insurrection, here. And on strategies and potentials of digital activism in general, here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

WATCH: Pop legend goes back to the village in "Absolut Warhola"

Intimate portraits reduced to decisive line and shade...  It was only natural, considering Warhol spent many a morning staring at the neighborhood iconostasis while growing up in a Slavic ghetto of Pittsburgh.

Byzantine icon: Image of Edessa or Holy Mandolion ("miraculous image made without hands")

Self Portrait (1986) by Andy Warhol (made with hands?)

This fascinating diffusion of cultures is captured in a documentary by Stanislaw Mucha, in which:  

"he traces the family roots of the American pop artist Andy Warhol back to two ethnic Ukrainian villages in Slovakia. There he finds Warhol’s eccentric relatives, all of whom treat the famous hometown boy with pride even though none of them has actually known him or understands his art. They know so little of him that when Warhol sends original art work to his relatives, they use the art as clothing for children’s toys. With gentle humanism, the film gravitates from the art of Warhol to the lives of his relatives – characters in their own right. We see the “artfulness” with which they come to grips with their everyday lives and the strange outside world. These villagers’ healthy attitude towards art, life and the encroaching modern world makes Absolute Warhol a buoyant documentary." 

The full film can be seen here (then follow the links):

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Curating the Uncanny #1: Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Ralph Eugene Meatyard, orchestrating the known unknown in midwestern backyards and broken buildings with the help of friends and family: 

Romance 1962

Lucybelle Crater & her good, good Mertonian friend Lucybelle Crater 1970-72

Lucybelle Crater & her 15 yr old son's friend Lucybelle Crater 1970-72

Lucybelle Crater & Bi-Polar Friend, Lucybelle Crater 1970-72

from The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater 1970-72

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

WATCH: Freakish Soviet horror film, "Viy" (1967)

After a few weeks of uninspired movie-watching, I ran into a batch of regional gems. I will begin with Soviet horror classic, a Gogol adaptation lit up by effects master Aleksandr Ptushko, "Viy" (1967):

"This Russian film adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's story was for a long time the only horror film made in the Soviet Union. Khoma (Leonid Kuravlev), a young novice, travels across the countryside and stays for a night in a barn that belongs to an ugly old woman. When she attacks him at night and takes him for a broom ride, the scared novice fatally wounds her, and before she dies, she turns into a beautiful young noblewoman (Natalya Varley). The latter leaves a will, according to which Khoma should pray for her for three nights in the chapel until her body is buried. At night, the witch rises from the coffin and tries to catch Khoma. She flies around but she can't reach him or see him because he stays inside the circle that he has drawn around himself. During the third and last night, the witch makes the last attempt to scare him out of the circle, and she calls all sorts of ugly creatures to help her... Gogol wrote several stories based on Ukrainian folklore, many of them dealing with the Devil and the supernatural."

The following is the beginning of the climax, as the witch summons her horde of demons. Dig the stellar and (and genuinely creepy) retro effects work and early Sam Raimi vibe (flavors of Evil Dead?):

A remake is being released in Russia later this year... and it looks lo-res CGI awful. Meanwhile, Italian horror maestro Mario Bava helmed a forgettable (for me) AIP adaptation back in 1960, known in the US as Black Sunday, which I wouldn't mind re-watching now.

WATCH: Soviet animation, Hedgehog in the Fog (1975) by Yuriy Norshteyn

WATCH: Surrealist stop motion, Street of Crocodiles (1986) by the Brothers Quay

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Urban Exploration #2: Traces, remnants and hidden churches

Urban snapshots taken on whim (click to enlarge)...

I stole these while looking for old wooden churches on the edge of Drohobych, Ukraine. The city went from Central Euro charm to industrial wasteland quick. Like, one block-quick. And amidst a few traces of remaining terrestrial life, some amazing pieces of history are hidden out there:

The beginning of the edge...

Where sidewalks become makeshift junk markets.

And further...

Amidst the remnants...

...Holy Cross church pokes its central tower up from a deserted village-cum-factory complex.

While the wooden domes of St. George fight a losing battle with a Ukrainian chop shop (click to enlarge- they are scrunched between garage roof and oak tree).

Enter 15th century courtyard... historic vertigo now complete.

...and then it always seems to end with a gypsy bus back.

The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world 'picturesque.'

-Susan Sontag, on how the camera has become the tool of the flâneur

LOOK: Shpytalna Street from Lvivsky Streets, by fucoid
LOOK: Baba 1 from Lvivsky Streets, by fucoid

Monday, May 18, 2009

Urban Exploration #1: Cats, dolls, Stalin etc. (from a Lvivski courtyard)

Urban snapshots taken on whim (click to enlarge)...  

From an old courtyard in the city center:

Location/Time: courtyard B off Khmelnytskoho St., Lviv on 5.17 @ approx. 16:00

The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world 'picturesque.'

-Susan Sontag, on how the camera has become the tool of the flâneur

Thursday, May 14, 2009

WATCH: Surrealist stop motion, "Street of Crocodiles" by the Brothers Quay

Going to Drohobych this weekend and it got me to thinking about Drohobychian author/artist Bruno Schultz, which then got me to thinking about the Quay Brothers' stellar interpretation of his novella, Street of Crocodiles.

Set in the author's home town during the interwar years, when there was forced assimilation and a growing consumer culture, it is a surreal analysis of a spiritually bankrupt society. And the film is a barren and highly stylized exploration of the novel's desperate psychologies:

Street of Crocodiles (1986) 1/2

Street of Crocodiles (1986) 2/2

SEE ALSO: Tool's reworking of the Quay Brother's imagery

Prison Sex (1995)

SOVIET ANIMATION: Hedgehog in the Fog (1975) by Yuriy Norshteyn

LOOK: Naïve artist, Nikifor from Krynika

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Delinquent School Girl 2" or "Anya's First Bardo"

Original Delinquent School Girl

Delinquent School Girl 2 is the first in an ongoing series, called Anya's Bardos. Watch as she begins her travels through time, space and memory...

Stay tuned to see where the street car takes her....