Straight couples are crazy!

 

BLOG-Possession 1

Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession 1981 is a difficult film to classify – part high-octane martial drama, suspenseful political allegory and disturbing psychological horror. Adored by fans and critics alike, it is receiving renewed attention following its long overdue restoration and Żuławski’s untimely death earlier this year. Here are three reasons why Possession still packs a punch:

1 | Straight couples are crazy! Inspired by his own messy divorce from actress Małgorzata Braunek, Possession transforms the idea of a marriage on the rocks into a conjugal meat grinder. Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and Mark (Sam Neill) are a couple overcome by rage and jealously, adultery and murder. The collapse of their relationship is visceral and supernatural – the stuff of absolute shock.

2 | Isabelle Adjani gives one of cinema’s most fearless performances and won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for it. Her scene in the Berlin U-Bahn station is a near-wordless expression of anguish that you will never forget. Film critic Justine A Smith once noted that ‘a man who has never seen Żuławski’s Possession does not truly understand what it is to be a woman.’

3 | Italian special effects maestro Carlo Rambaldi was responsible for the incredible phallic monster at the heart of Żuławski’s descent into madness. His work in Possession followed his award-winning creations for Ridley Scott’s Alien 1979.

Possession 1981 R18+
Director/Script: Andrzej Żuławski
35MM (Uncut Restoration) | English Subtitles
8.45pm Friday 10 June | 2Hrs 4Min | Buy Tickets

BLOG-Possession - Poster

In Character | 28 May – 28 August 2016
Buy Tickets
Tickets on sale through qtix (booking fees apply)
or at the GOMA Box Office from one hour prior to film screenings.

‘In Character’ is a cinema project developed in response to the exhibition ‘Cindy Sherman’. It brings together a cast of actresses and characters who challenge our expectations for the behaviour, desire and physicality of women onscreen. Check out this week’s selection of films at GOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque.

BLOG-Serial Mom

Serial Mom 1994 M
Director/Script: John Waters
35MM
6pm Wednesday 8 June | 1Hr 35Min | Buy Tickets

John Waters puts a twist on the everyday mediocrity of suburban life in this hilarious satire. Kathleen Turner is Beverly Sutphin, the seemingly perfect homemaker who will stop at nothing to rid the neighbourhood of anyone failing to live up to her moral code.

blog-Pink Flamingos

Pink Flamingos 1972 R18+
Director: John Waters
16MM transferred to 35MM
7.45pm Wednesday 8 June | 1Hr 47Min | Buy Tickets

Filmmaker John Waters exploded into infamy with this darkly comic classic, in which cross-dresser Divine stars as Babs Johnson, a criminal in hiding from the FBI in a trailer outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Accompanying Babs are her mother (Edith Massey), a woman who is obsessed with eggs; her son Crackers (Danny Mills); and Cotton (Mary Vivian Pierce), Babs’s “travelling companion” and Crackers’ co-conspirator in unwholesome play.

BLOG-Crimes of Passion 1

Crimes of Passion 1984 R18+
Director: Ken Russell
35MM transferred to DCP
6.30pm Friday 10 June | 1Hr 52Min | Buy Tickets

By day, Joanna crane (Kathleen Turner) is a prim workaholic fashion designer. At night she becomes China Blue, a kinky hooker on the streets of Los Angeles. But when she finds herself being followed by a private investigator (John Laughlin) and stalked by a fanatical preacher (a truly over-the-top performance by Anthony Perkins), Joanna’s double life threatens to explode. In the world ruled by mad passion and holy obsession, can one woman survive the most dangerous emotion of all?

BLOG-mommie_dearest_2

Mommie Dearest 1981 M
Director: Frank Perry
35MM transferred to DCP
1pm Saturday 11 June | 2Hrs 9Min | Buy Tickets

Outrageous and controversial, this is the story of legendary movie star Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) as she struggles for her career and battles the inner demons of her private life. This torment was manifested in her relationships with her adopted children, Christina and Christopher. The public Crawford was a strong-willed, glamorous object of admiration, but Mommie Dearest reveals the private Crawford, the woman desperate to be a mother trying to survive in a devastating industry that swallows careers thoughtlessly.

BLOG-Carrie

Carrie 1976 R18+
Director: Brian De Palma
35MM
3.30PM Saturday 11 June | 1Hr 38Mins | Buy Tickets

Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is a gawky, unloved teenager whose awakening sexuality is at odds with her puritanical mother’s fanatical teachings. Physically abused at home and shunned at school, an unexpected Prom invitation seems to be Carrie’s first chance at happiness. But when the Prom night ends in a vicious practical joke, Carrie’s despair manifests itself in a fiery telekinetic revenge. Brian De Palma’s breakthrough psycho-sexual horror yarn is adapted from a Stephen King novel.

blog-Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens 1975 PG
Directors: Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Muffie Meyer
35MM transferred to DCP
1pm Sunday 5 June | 1 Hr 34 Min | Buy Tickets

Grey Gardens is the name of a neglected, sprawling estate gone to seed. The crumbling mansion was home to Edith Bouvier Beale, often referred to as “Big Edie,” and her daughter, “Little Edie.” The East Hampton, Long Island, home became the centre of quite a scandal when it was revealed in 1973 that the reclusive aunt and cousin to Jackie O were living in a state of poverty and filth. That’s the background to this 1976 film portrait by cinéma vérité pioneers Albert and David Maysles, but it’s only incidental to the fascinating story they discover inside the estate walls.

ABUSE OF WEAKNESS

Abus de faiblesse (Abuse of Weakness) 2013 15+
Director/Script: Catherine Breillat
DCP | English Subtitles
1PM Sunday 12 June | 1Hr 24Min | Buy Tickets

Inspired by director Catherine Breillat’s true life experiences, Abuse of Weakness is an exploration of power and sex. Isabelle Huppert stars as Maud, a strong willed filmmaker who suffers a stroke. Bedridden, but determined to pursue her latest film project, she sees Vilko (Kool Shen), a con man who swindles celebrities, on a TV talk show. Interested in him for her new film, the two meet and Maud soon finds herself falling for Vilko’s manipulative charm as their parasitic relationship hurdles out of control.

‘Cindy Sherman’ | Until 3 October 2016 | Ticketed
Buy Tickets
Buy the Publication
Further Information

Cindy Sherman Up Late | Ticketed
5.30pm – 10.00pm | Fridays 17 & 24 Juny; 1 July; 9, 16, 23, 30 September
Buy Tickets

Sundays with Cindy
3 July | 28 August | 25 September

GOMA Talks Cindy Sherman | Free
6.30pm Thursday 21 and 28 July
Join us for discussions on contemporary feminism.

‘In Character’ | Until 28 August 2016
Buy Tickets

Tickets on sale through qtix (booking fees apply)
or at the GOMA Box Office from one hour prior to film screenings.

‘In Character’ is a cinema project developed in response to the exhibition Cindy Sherman. It brings together a cast of actresses and characters who challenge our expectations for the behaviour, desire and physicality of women onscreen.

The project is accompanied by a series of free programs and events
In Character: Video Montages | Free
In Character: Absolutely Fabulous | Free
In Character: Variety Hour | Free

 

Peeping is Believing

 

BLOG-Crimes of Passion 2

Savaged by the critics when it was first released, Ken Russell’s Crimes of Passion 1984 is a film that deserves to be rediscovered. Here are three reasons why this cult favourite deserves a rethink:

1 | Ken Russell didn’t believe in the virtue in being understated. Crimes of Passion is a downright silly vision of American society and sexual mores. Kathleen Turner plays a successful sportswear designer who acts out her sublimated desires by moonlighting as the prostitute China Blue. Hiding in the shadows with his bag of tricks is the deranged Reverend Peter Shayne (Anthony Perkins) who obsesses over her ‘evils of the flesh’. As Russell suggested at the time: ‘This is not the age of manners. This is the age of kicking people in the crotch.’

2 | The two central performances are a revelation. Kathleen Turner appears fearless and uninhibited in every scene. Anthony Perkins is so wacky he makes his role as Norman Bates in Psycho seem well adjusted. Barry Sandler’s screenplay gives Turner a dazzlingly array of foul-mouthed quips. When one sleazy client asks her: ‘How low can you get?’ she simply replies ‘As low as you can afford’.

3 | Peeping is Believing. The film has received a stunning new 2K digital restoration by Arrow Films, reinstating all the scenes censored from the original release. This is the director’s cut in all its neon-tinted glory!

Crimes of Passion 1984 R18+
Director: Ken Russell
35MM transferred to DCP
6.30pm Friday 10 June | 1hr 52min | Buy Tickets

BLOG-Crimes of Passion - Poster

In Character | 28 May – 28 August 2016
Buy Tickets
Tickets on sale through qtix (booking fees apply)
or at the GOMA Box Office from one hour prior to film screenings.

‘In Character’ is a cinema project developed in response to the exhibition ‘Cindy Sherman’. It brings together a cast of actresses and characters who challenge our expectations for the behaviour, desire and physicality of women onscreen. Check out this week’s selection of films at GOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque.

BLOG-Serial Mom

Serial Mom 1994 M
Director/Script: John Waters
35MM
6pm Wednesday 8 June | 1hr 35min | Buy Tickets

John Waters puts a twist on the everyday mediocrity of suburban life in this hilarious satire. Kathleen Turner is Beverly Sutphin, the seemingly perfect homemaker who will stop at nothing to rid the neighbourhood of anyone failing to live up to her moral code.

blog-Pink Flamingos

Pink Flamingos 1972 R18+
Director: John Waters
16MM transferred to 35MM
7.45pm Wednesday 8 June | 1hr 47min | Buy Tickets

Filmmaker John Waters exploded into infamy with this darkly comic classic, in which cross-dresser Divine stars as Babs Johnson, a criminal in hiding from the FBI in a trailer outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Accompanying Babs are her mother (Edith Massey), a woman who is obsessed with eggs; her son Crackers (Danny Mills); and Cotton (Mary Vivian Pierce), Babs’s “travelling companion” and Crackers’ co-conspirator in unwholesome play.

BLOG-Possession 2

Possession 1981 R18+
Director/Script: Andrzej Żuławski
35MM (Uncut Restoration) | English Subtitles
8.45pm Friday 10 June | 2hrs 4min | Buy Tickets

With their marriage in pieces Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and Mark’s (Sam Neil) tense relationship has become a psychotic descent into screaming matches and violence. The unhinged Anna visits her monstrous lover in a deserted Berlin apartment and will stop at nothing to protect it. A horror film like no other, Possession is an intense, shocking experience that was banned in the UK. At Cannes Film Festival however the film was nominated for the Palme d’Or and Isabelle Adjani won Best Actress for her mesmerising performance.

BLOG-mommie_dearest_2
Mommie Dearest
1981 M
Director: Frank Perry
35MM transferred to DCP
1pm Saturday 11 June | 2hrs 9min | Buy Tickets

Outrageous and controversial, this is the story of legendary movie star Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) as she struggles for her career and battles the inner demons of her private life. This torment was manifested in her relationships with her adopted children, Christina and Christopher. The public Crawford was a strong-willed, glamorous object of admiration, but Mommie Dearest reveals the private Crawford, the woman desperate to be a mother trying to survive in a devastating industry that swallows careers thoughtlessly.

BLOG-Carrie

Carrie 1976 R18+
Director: Brian De Palma
35MM
3.30pm Saturday 11 June | 1hr 38mins | Buy Tickets

Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is a gawky, unloved teenager whose awakening sexuality is at odds with her puritanical mother’s fanatical teachings. Physically abused at home and shunned at school, an unexpected Prom invitation seems to be Carrie’s first chance at happiness. But when the Prom night ends in a vicious practical joke, Carrie’s despair manifests itself in a fiery telekinetic revenge. Brian De Palma’s breakthrough psycho-sexual horror yarn is adapted from a Stephen King novel.

blog-Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens 1975 PG
Directors: Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Muffie Meyer
35MM transferred to DCP
1pm Sunday 5 June | 1hr 34min | Buy Tickets

Grey Gardens is the name of a neglected, sprawling estate gone to seed. The crumbling mansion was home to Edith Bouvier Beale, often referred to as “Big Edie,” and her daughter, “Little Edie.” The East Hampton, Long Island, home became the centre of quite a scandal when it was revealed in 1973 that the reclusive aunt and cousin to Jackie O were living in a state of poverty and filth. That’s the background to this 1976 film portrait by cinéma vérité pioneers Albert and David Maysles, but it’s only incidental to the fascinating story they discover inside the estate walls.

ABUSE OF WEAKNESS

Abus de faiblesse (Abuse of Weakness) 2013 15+
Director/Script: Catherine Breillat
DCP | English Subtitles
1pm Sunday 12 June | 1rr 24min | Buy Tickets

Inspired by director Catherine Breillat’s true life experiences, Abuse of Weakness is an exploration of power and sex. Isabelle Huppert stars as Maud, a strong willed filmmaker who suffers a stroke. Bedridden, but determined to pursue her latest film project, she sees Vilko (Kool Shen), a con man who swindles celebrities, on a TV talk show. Interested in him for her new film, the two meet and Maud soon finds herself falling for Vilko’s manipulative charm as their parasitic relationship hurdles out of control.

‘Cindy Sherman’ | Until 3 October 2016 | Ticketed
Buy Tickets
Buy the Publication
Further Information

Cindy Sherman Up Late | Ticketed
5.30pm – 10.00pm | Fridays 17 & 24 Juny; 1 July; 9, 16, 23, 30 September
Buy Tickets

Sundays with Cindy
3 July | 28 August | 25 September

GOMA Talks Cindy Sherman | Free
6.30pm Thursday 21 and 28 July

Join us for discussions on contemporary feminism.

‘In Character’ | Until 28 August 2016
Buy Tickets

Tickets on sale through qtix (booking fees apply) or at the GOMA Box Office from one hour prior to film screenings.

‘In Character’ is a cinema project developed in response to the exhibition Cindy Sherman. It brings together a cast of actresses and characters who challenge our expectations for the behaviour, desire and physicality of women onscreen.

The project is accompanied by a series of free programs and events
In Character: Video Montages | Free
In Character: Absolutely Fabulous | Free
In Character: Variety Hour | Free

In Character: Women in cinema who refuse to play by the rules

 
blog-Jeanne Dielman
Production still from Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles 1975 / Director: Chantal Akerman / Image courtesy: British Film Institute

‘In Character’ is a major cinema project, developed in response to the works featured in the QAGOMA exhibition ‘Cindy Sherman’. It’s a project about those women in cinema who refuse to play by the rules, writes José Da Silva.

For the past six months I’ve been watching, re-watching and deliberating on almost 200 works, revisiting those figures that rebel against their social strictures and play with our expectations for the behaviour, desire and physicality of women onscreen. Uniting these films is the transcendence of their leading performances, given by some of cinema’s most fearless actresses. These singular performances enable the characters to move beyond the conventions of genre cinema to become unforgettable portrayals of women in art and daily life.

‘In Character’ brings together 65 works across its three-month program, from noir to comedy, horror, exploitation, documentary and melodrama. The program is divided into four intersecting threads, each populated by ideas and personas inspired by Sherman’s photography. Like Sherman’s Hollywood headshots, society portraits, fashion socialites and clowns, the figures depicted throughout ‘In Character’ are exaggerated expressions of identity. Some confront us with complex characterisations of gender and sexuality; others are camp expressions of female archetypes. While many of the films have the appeal of being guilty pleasures, others offer courageous depictions of female autonomy, sexuality and filial responsibility.

blog-Sunset Boulevard
Production still from Sunset Boulevard 1950 / Director: Billy Wilder / Image courtesy: Paramount Pictures

Hollywood Babylon takes it names from the 1959 book by filmmaker Kenneth Anger. Like Anger’s salacious book, this program revels in stories of fame and infamy. It features images of struggling actresses and fading stars; overbearing celebrity mums and female rivalry on and off stage; obsessions with age, glamour and masquerade; and the allure of notoriety. The scope is unashamedly wide and features Bette Davis in All About Eve 1950, Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard 1950, Divine in Pink Flamingos 1972, Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest 1981, Julie Andrews in Victor/ Victoria 1982, Madonna in Dangerous Game 1993, Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls 1995 and Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive 2001.

blog-Pink Flamingos
Production still from Pink Flamingos 1972 / Director: John Waters / Image courtesy: Roadshow Films

The Lady of the House features narratives set within the domestic sphere. It includes films about the eccentric lives lived in cloistered mansions and apartments; the power dynamics between maids and their employers; and experiences of psychological and physical captivity. We also find women caught up in the mundanity of courtship, domesticity and homemakers under the influence of their environment. Again, the selection is diverse: it includes Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar 1954, Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion 1965, Edie Bouvier Beale and her mother Little Edie in Grey Gardens 1975, Kathy Bates in Misery 1990, and Julianne Moore in Safe 1995.

Dangerous Relations considers the depiction of difficult and unconventional relationships between parents and their children and wives and husbands; stories of jealously and infidelity, obsessive friendships and affairs; intergenerational love; and vampiric and otherworldly seductresses. This group of films reverberates with psychosexual pressure, evoked in performances by Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966, Isabelle Adjani in Possession 1981, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct 1992, Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher 2001, and Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin 2013.

blog-Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Production still from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966 / Director: Mike Nichols / Image courtesy: Park Circus

Women in Revolt focuses on women who are badly behaved and those who embark on a newfound sense of personal freedom by rejecting social expectations. We witness provocative displays of gender in the Pre-Code cinema of the 1930s and exploitation cinema of the 1960s and 80s; the rejection of patriarchy and maternal responsibilities; stories of vengeance and revenge and situation where office politics, infidelity and bullying have murderous consequences. This program includes Mae West in I’m No Angel 1933, Sissy Spacek in Carrie 1976, Kathleen Turner in Crimes of Passion 1984, Lili Taylor in I Shot Andy Warhol 1996 and Penélope Cruz in Volver 2006.

While celebrating the performances of the actresses that embody these incredible characters onscreen, the program also acknowledges some of the uncompromising women behind the camera. Works by an acclaimed quartet of French filmmakers (Chantal Akerman, Catherine Breillat, Claire Denis and Agnès Varda) are presented alongside a newer generation and lesser known group of female directors (including Jennifer Kent, Lucrecia Martel and Bette Gordon). Cindy Sherman’s own directorial effort, Office Killer 1997, emphasises the close links between her studio practice and its many references to Hollywood and genre cinema. Tracey Moffatt and Gary Hillberg’s video montages also feature in the program, extending their interests into contemporary art. Moffatt’s videos survey the enduring dramatic modes and genres of Hollywood cinema, re-editing and juxtaposing film sequences to create ironic commentary on the roles of clichés of mothers, servants and ideas of love, lust and revenge played out in cinema.

1995, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS : SEASON 3
Production still from Absolutely Fabulous 1992 / Director: Bob Spiers / Image courtesy: BBC

‘In Character’ also includes a group of special free events and screenings of the work of television comedians and writers. ‘In Character: Variety Hour’ will be something of a curatorial experiment, featuring contributions from Gallery curators and local comedians, and will include informal discussions, YouTube clips, live jokes, drag performances and the screening of selected episodes. ‘Variety Hour’ will focus on a wide range of women in comedy and television, including favourites Julia Davis (Nighty Night 2004–05), Roseanne Barr (Roseanne 1988–97), Abbi Jacobsen and Ilana Glazer (Broad City 2014–ongoing). Jennifer Saunders’s celebrated sitcom Absolutely Fabulous 1992–2012 is also profiled during the first three nights of Cindy Sherman Up Late. We screen six episodes of the show, which follows self-indulgent PR maven and fashionista Edina Monsoon (Saunders) and her best friend, magazine fashion director Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), in their endless quest to remain relevant.

blog-Mommy
Production still from Mommy 2014 / Director: Xavier Dolan / Image courtesy: Sharmill Films

Beyond the Fire: Twin Peaks and a girl without a secret

 

blog-Laura Palmer

There are so many clues and feelings in the world that it makes a mystery . . . and there are many avenues in life where we’re given little indications that the mystery can one day be solved. We get little proofs — not the big proof — but little proofs that keep us searching. – David Lynch

 

Today, 8 April marks the 25th anniversary of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s television series Twin Peaks 1990–91. This ground-breaking vision of small town America revelled in a beauty and horror that lay beneath the surface of the everyday. It was part melodrama and murder mystery, and its success and longevity is a salient marker of our collective fascination with mysteries. As Lynch puts it, “Human beings are like detectives. We sense a mystery and we want to know what’s going on.”

blog-twin-peaks-dwarf

That gum you like is going to come back in style!

As part of ‘David Lynch: Between Two Worlds‘, the Gallery is celebrating the anniversary of Twin Peaks with a number of events, starting with a free screening of the Lynch’s pilot episode Northwest Passage this Friday 10 April. Next week there are two sold out concerts by US band Xiu Xiu reinterpreting the music of Twin Peaks composed by Angelo Badalamenti and Lynch, a Twin Peaks Trivia Night hosted by Man vs Bear Trivia and screenings of Lynch’s terrifying prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

blog-Log Lady

It is happening again!

‘Between Two Worlds’ also includes a gallery-based presentation of the Log Lady Introductions, written and directed by Lynch to accompany syndication of the series in 1993. One of the show’s more enigmatic figures, the Log Lady communicated with a place ‘beyond the fire’ through her log and is presented in the Gallery in a setting reminiscent of the interior of The Black Lodge, a location in Twin Peaks described as a ‘place between two worlds’, where characters meet their shadow-selves.

In the penultimate episode Laura Palmer tells Agent Cooper who is trapped in The Black Lodge, ‘I’ll see you again in 25 Years’ – a promise that has swelled with fans since the announcement that Lynch, Frost and the Showtime network would revisit the town with a 9-episode third series to be directed by Lynch. A new novel by Frost called ‘The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks’ (2015) was also announced with the promise that it would reveal what happened to the show’s characters in the intervening years.

But like the song goes: who knows where or when?

During Lynch’s visit to Brisbane for the opening of ‘Between Two Worlds’ he intimated that while he was still very much in love with the world of Twin Peaks, negotiations with the network were proving difficult and contracts were yet to be signed. Lynch’s reservation and clear frustration with the process drew speculation internationally that the new series might never eventuate. Those fears were fuelled by Lynch’s recent announcement on Twitter that he was leaving the production, lamenting that he wished things could have worked out differently.

Fans and actors have since begun the campaign to save the production with Lynch and Frost at the helm. The message is simple: No Lynch, No Peaks. In Sheryl Lee’s video message she described the endgame as “Twin Peaks without David Lynch is like a girl without a secret”. It’s a reminder of the commitment of fans worldwide who previously campaigned for 20 years for the release of deleted scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me that surfaced with the 2014 release of The Missing Pieces.

‘David Lynch: Between Two Worlds’ is at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane until 7 June 2015. A range of ticket packages and a complete retrospective of Lynch’s films, videos and works for television are presented as part of the exhibition in the Gallery’s Australian Cinémathèque.

David Lynch Working Notes: A place both wonderful and strange

 
blog-Laura
David Lynch / Twin Peaks 1990-91 (production still) / Image courtesy: ABC, Los Angeles

In the lead up to the opening of ‘David Lynch: Between Two Worlds’ on March 14, QAGOMA Senior Curator José Da Silva explores the process of developing the exhibition and its expanded program of events, screenings and performances.

I learned that just beneath the surface there’s another world, and still different worlds as you dig deeper. – David Lynch

I was 11 when Twin Peaks 1990–91 first aired on Australian television and I instantly fell in love with the idea of a world hidden with deeper truths. I was gripped particularly by the mythology of The Black Lodge and the location of Glastonberry Grove, where a circle of Sycamore trees and a pool of scorched engine oil marked a gateway between this world and its darker counterpart. When I arrived in Los Angeles last summer to visit Lynch’s studio, I made an impromptu detour out to the shooting location for Glastonberry Grove. With screen captures from the series and Google map in hand, I lined up the surrounding trees and stood at the ingress 25 years later.

blog-Glastonberry Grove
David Lynch / Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me 1992 (still) / Image courtesy: Madman Entertainment, Melbourne
blog-Los Angeles 2014
Glastonberry Grove site visit, Los Angeles, July 2014 / Photograph: Laura Brown

Now this might look like a strange bit of field research – which of course it is – but it also represents an enthusiasm that underscores my entire approach to curating this project. ‘Between Two Worlds’ wasn’t born of intellectual curiosity, but from a deep love of mysteries. It’s an exhibition about the transcendent power of the imagination and about an artist who loves a mystery, particularly one that leaves room to dream. Not surprisingly, the title comes from the poem Lynch wrote during the production of the Twin Peaks pilot that sums up the idea of crossing the limits of the ordinary world: ‘Through the darkness of future past / The magician longs to see / One chants out between two worlds / Fire walk with me’.

blog-Untitled
David Lynch / Untitled 2007 / Installation after a drawing by David Lynch / Collection: Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris / Photograph: Patrick Gries / Image courtesy: Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain

When I imagined this exhibition, it began with a sense that it might indeed be possible to traverse the limits of the natural world – to chant out between worlds to a place both familiar and strange. Upon entering the finished exhibition, audiences will get such a chance, encountering a small drawing from the mid-1970s that illustrates the threshold of a living room. The gallery space then opens up to reveal Untitled 2007, an extraordinary installation that recreates the drawing as a théatre décor, enabling viewers to literally walk in and through its limits.

008 a
David Lynch / Shadow of a Twisted Hand Across My House 1988 / Oil and mixed media on canvas / Image courtesy: The artist and Galerie Karl Pfefferle, Munich / © The artist

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest during the 1950s, Lynch’s world seemed idyllic. It was what lay beneath the surface of that perfection that would consume him and form the basis of his artistic preoccupations. As Lynch describes:

My childhood was elegant homes, tree-lined streets, the milkman, building backyard forts, droning airplanes, blue skies, picket fences, green grass, cherry trees. Middle America as it’s supposed to be. But on the cherry tree there’s this pitch oozing out – some black, some yellow, and millions of red ants crawling all over it. I discovered that if one looks a little closer at this beautiful world, there are always red ants underneath. Because I grew up in a perfect world, other things were a contrast.

It was in the city of Philadelphia that Lynch would confront those red ants. The city’s atmosphere of violence, corruption and sadness left an indelible impression and gave him a certain way of seeing the world differently. Lynch recalls, ‘The feeling was so close to extreme danger, and the fear was intense… I saw things that were frightening, but more than that, thrilling.’

David Lynch / Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times) 1967 / 16mm transferred to SD video, colour, stereo, 4 minutes / Image courtesy: The artist and MK2 / © The artist

Lynch’s practice took form at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he experimented with an expanded field of painting and sculpture. His desire to see a ‘moving painting’ encouraged him to experiment with proto-forms of animation and make Six Men Getting Sick 1967. This defining work saw Lynch make the leap from still to moving images, using a resin screen with sculptural reliefs as a surface, he projected hand-drawn sequences of vomiting, creating – an endless cycle of sickness accompanied by the sound of siren.

this man 1m
David Lynch / This Man Was Shot 0.9502 Seconds Ago 2004 / Mixed media on giclée print / Image courtesy: The artist / © The artist

Lynch’s approach to painting reflects this prescient example of action and reaction, fast and slow, as well as the organic and visceral possibilities of the painterly surface that he found inspiring in the work Francis Bacon. For Lynch, everything begins with his love of painting, and it is this activity that best represents the creative continuum: ‘You could paint forever and never paint the perfect painting and fall in love with a new thing every week and there’s no end to it, your painting is never going to die.’

blog-Eraserhead
David Lynch / Eraserhead 1977 (production still) / Image courtesy: Umbrella Entertainment, Melbourne

At the centre of ‘Between Two Worlds’ is the idea that wisdom is gained through knowledge and experience of combined opposites. For Lynch, ‘the world we live in is a world of opposites. And to reconcile those two opposing things is the trick.’ The exhibition in turn explores the expression of these dualities throughout his practice and the search for the balancing points between them.

Shifting between the macroscopic and microscopic, the physical and the psychic, the exhibition reveals many of Lynch’s enduring subjects: industry and organic phenomena, inner conflict and bodily trauma, the interplay of light and darkness, violence and grotesque humour, life’s absurdities, and the possibility of finding a deeper reality in our everyday experience. Ultimately, it reflects Lynch’s instinctive impulses to look beneath the surface of things, to not only find moments of beauty or horror, but to also uncover deeper truths — the mysteries and possibilities that ensure the ordinary is always something more.

Which brings me back to Twin Peaks and Agent Dale Cooper who perhaps knew best what we might just discover: ‘I have no idea where this will lead us. But I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.

The publication David Lynch: Between Two Worlds includes over 200 images illustrating Lynch’s wide-ranging oeuvre — drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, mixed media, film and video — and an engaging interview with the artist, conducted by exhibition curator José Da Silva, Senior Curator, Australian Cinémathèque

David Lynch Working Notes: There’s always music in the air

David Lynch Working Notes: There’s always music in the air

 
blog-Xiu Xiu 02
Xiu Xiu / Photograph: Cara Robbins / Courtesy: the artists

In the lead up to the opening of David Lynch: Between Two Worlds on March 14, QAGOMA Senior Curator José Da Silva explores the process of developing the exhibition and its expanded program of events, screenings and performances.

Throughout his career, David Lynch has made expert use of sound and music, none more so than in the world of Twin Peaks 1991-92, where the Man from Another Place counsels: ‘there’s always music in the air.’ From the onset of developing this exhibition, Lynch’s solo and collaborative musical projects have been an essential part of my working process and an integral component of the exhibition experience. Indeed the description of Lynch’s song Pinky’s Dream (2007) has been something of an unofficial tag line for the project: ‘the horror and sadness of losing someone to other dimensions’.

One of my favourite music works in the exhibition is Sycamore Trees (1998) that featured in the series finale of Twin Peaks. Written by Angelo Badalmenti (music) and Lynch (lyrics) and featuring the late Jimmy Scott on vocals, the song was first released on the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) soundtrack, and its instrumental made available online through the Twin Peaks Archive (2011-12). Fansite Welcome to Twin Peaks sums up the perfect union created by Lynch here, suggesting: ‘The song on its own harnesses such a palpable mood, but to see it spotlighted in the final episode of the series is a great example of the alchemy that can happen when image and sound forge a very special reciprocal relationship.’

blog-BobBlue_DavidLynch_Poster_QAGOMALibrary_001
Promotional poster for one of Lynch’s rare public performances as BlueBob with John Neff.

‘Between Two Worlds’ features a specially-designed music lounge presenting excerpts from Lynch’s solo recordings Crazy Clown Time (2011) and The Big Dream (2013), the acclaimed sound design for Eraserhead 1977 made with Alan Splet, the soundscape for his 2007 exhibition ‘The Air is on Fire’ created with Dean Hurley, as well as Lynch’s film soundtracks and collaborative recordings with Badalamenti, sound engineer and musician John Neff, Polish composer Marek Zebrowski, and Lynch’s muses Julee Cruise and Chrysta Bell. These playlists of music are accompanied by records, music videos and ephemera.

To get you in the mood, here is the current playlist of Lynch remixes I’m jogging to in the morning:

1. The Big Dream (Venetian Snares Remix) [from The Big Dream Remix EP, 2013]
2. I Know (Jon Hopkins Remix) [from Good Day Today / I Know, 2011]
3. Noah’s Ark (Moby Remix) [from Noah’s Ark (Moby Remix), 2012)
4. Good Day Today (Boy Noize Remix) [from Good Day Today / I Know, 2011]
5. Pinky’s Dream (Trentemøller Remix) [from Pinky’s Dream, 2012)
6. We Rolled Together (Yttling Jazz Remix) [from The Big Dream Remix EP, 2013]

blog-Xiu Xiu 01
Xiu Xiu / Photograph: Cara Robbins / Courtesy: the artists

In developing ‘Between Two Worlds’, I also wanted to underscore the enduring influence of Lynch’s work on other musicians, which led to the commissioning of two special projects: a reimagining of the music of Twin Peaks by Xiu Xiu and a new work by HEXA responding to Lynch’s archive of factory photographs.

Led by Jamie Stewart, Angela Seo and Shayna Dunkelman, the music of Xiu Xiu eschews simple description. It’s a mix of post punk and synth pop, classical and experimental styles, full of brutality and emotional depth. For ‘Between Two Worlds’, Xiu Xiu aren’t simply recreating the music of Twin Peaks, but providing an entirely new interpretation, one emphasising its chaos and drama. As Stewart told me:

The music of Twin Peaks is everything that we aspire to as musicians and is everything that we want to listen to as music fans. It is romantic, it is terrifying, it is beautiful, it is unnervingly sexual. The idea of holding the ‘purity’ of the 1950’s up to the cold light of a violent moon and exposing the skull beneath the frozen, worried smile has been a stunning influence on us. There is no way that we can recreate Badalamenti and Lynch’s music as it was originally played. It is too perfect and we could never do its replication justice. Our attempt will be to play the parts of the songs as written, meaning, following the harmony melody but to arrange in the way that it has shaped us as players.

blog-DSCF0489
Working lunch with Jamie Stewart at Papa Cristo’s Taverna, Los Angeles, July 2014

For those unfamiliar with Xiu Xiu’s extraordinary discography, here are my personal favourites to get you acquainted:

1. ‘Sad Redux-O-Grapher’ [from A Promise, 2003]
2. ‘Muppet Face’ [from La Forêt, 2005]
3. ‘Stupid in the Dark’ [from Angel Guts: Red Classroom, 2014]
4. ‘Suha’ [from Knife Play, 2002]
5. ‘Cute Pee Pee’ [from Dear God, I Hate Myself, 2010]
6. ‘I Love the Valley OH!’ [from Fabulous Muscle, 2004]
7. ‘Ian Curtis Wishlist’ [from A Promise, 2003]
8. ‘Bishop CA’ [from The Air Force, 2006]
9. ‘In Lust You Can Hear the Axe Fall’ [from Women as Lovers, 2008]
10. ‘The Oldness’ [from Always, 2012]

blog-HEXA
HEXA / Courtesy: the artists

Stewart is also working with Brisbane-based sound engineer, curator and composer Lawrence English to present HEXA, a long overdue collaboration exploring the physicality of sound and its abilities to infiltrate and occupy the body. English is one my favourite local artists and his 2014 album Wilderness of Mirrors is one of the most gripping pieces of experimental music to be released in Australia.

English and Stewart are currently working on a new piece that responds to Lynch’s photographs of disused factories featured in the exhibition. Using Lynch’s factory photographs as both a literal and metaphoric source, HEXA’s performance will draw root from the texture of Lynch’s images, the imagined and actual spaces, and the spectral histories contained within them. English describes the effect as “cascading low frequency pulses and tectonic plates of sound, suspended in cavernous cathedral-like spaces.”

blog-Air is on Fire
The Air is on Fire (2007) / Courtesy: Sacred Bones Records

HEXA’s performance follows in the spirit of Lynch’s own industrial soundscapes that sit between musique concrète and sound design. Lynch and Hurley’s composition The Air is on Fire accompanies the immersive installation Untitled (2007) and uses a range of sounds and samples, that Hurley describes as ‘brief phrases of machines working,’ ‘characteristic winds,’ ‘punch-presses pitched down,’ ‘train mechanisms and large steel factory samples,’ and ‘metal structures that were welded together’.

Xiu Xiu plays the music of Twin Peaks
7.00pm Friday 17 and Saturday 18 April 2015
Cinema A, GOMA

HEXA – Factory Photographs
6.00pm Sunday 19 April 2015
Cinema A, GOMA

David Lynch: Between Two Worlds

The publication David Lynch: Between Two Worlds includes over 200 images illustrating Lynch’s wide-ranging oeuvre — drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, mixed media, film and video — and an engaging interview with the artist, conducted by exhibition curator José Da Silva, Senior Curator, Australian Cinémathèque

David Lynch Working Notes: A place both wonderful and strange