Sunday, 14 April 2013
Friday, 30 March 2012
'Kusama's Self-Obliteration', Yayoi Kusama, 1967
"Only the film Kusama's Self-Obliteration can today still give an idea of the energy and radicality
with which Yayoi Kusama provoked the New York art world of the late 1960s with her performances.
The film documents the legendary 'nude happenings' of these years, and has been shown at numerous international film festivals and awarded several prizes. "
@ Ubu (full downloadable version here)
'Kusama: Princess of Polka Dots',
"Our in-progress feature documentary is focused on Yayoi Kusama's impact on the 60s NY art world, when she rivaled pop legend Andy Warhol for press attention. Now 83, Kusama is considered Japan's greatest living artist. In America many of her contributions remain misunderstood and forgotten. It is our objective to change that!"
@ Youtube's KUSAMAdocumentary channel. (more @: www.kusamadocumentary.com)
KUSAMA: Princess of Polka Dots is a feature documentary work-in-progress about the avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama. Now in her early 80s, Kusama is considered Japan's greatest living artist. In 2006, she was named the Praemium Imperiale Laureate for lifetime achievement in painting - one of the world's most prestigious arts prizes. However, her contributions to the American art world remain misunderstood. This is the first American film to focus on Kusama's remarkable story. An underdog when she arrived in the U.S. in 1957, her only resource was her determination to succeed. On her first day in New York, Kusama climbed to the top of the Empire State Building, looked down, and made a decision to stand out from everyone she saw below and become a star. Eighteen months later she exhibited a revolutionary series of mural-sized paintings. During her stay in New York, Kusama's art went from delicate watercolors to meticulous, labor intensive oil paintings to sculptures and installations, and finally to sexually-charged public performance art protesting the Vietnam war and supporting civil rights and free love. Her art prefigured minimalism, pop and feminism. She rivaled Andy Warhol for press attention and the paparazzi dubbed her "The Polka Dot Princess" and "Dotty" due to the dots frequently seen in her work. As Kusama's art changed from labor intensive painting and sculpture (which she described as "art medicine"), to "Happenings," the mental illness she has battled since childhood grew worse. Kusama has attributed the dots frequently seen in her work to hallucinations that began during her childhood. Her Happenings did not generate revenue and also increasingly alienated her from the art press, who dismissed them as merely salacious. Struggling economically and emotionally, Kusama left New York in the early 70s and later checked herself into a Tokyo mental institution. Diagnosed with obsessional neurosis, Kusama has said she would have killed herself long ago if it were not for art. During the 30 years Kusama has lived in a mental institution, she has written more than a dozen semi-autobiographical books while also continuing to paint and create sculpture and installation art. Kusama is an artistic pioneer who wanted her art to extend beyond the art elite and to advocate social change. The work she created in New York made an important contribution to the development of American art. Her accomplishments are all the more impressive when one considers how brave she was to leave behind the strict society in which she was raised in order to compete in the male-dominated New York art world in spite of language barriers, financial problems, and mental illness.
We expect the film to be play film festivals in 2012. Kusama has stated, "Time is finally turning a kind eye on me but it barely matters for I am dashing into the future." Tax-deductible donations of any amount are greatly appreciated and will help make our vision a reality.
©Tokyo Lee Productions, Inc."
"Yayoi Kusama, b. March 22, 1929 in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture) is a Japanese artist whose paintings, collages, soft sculptures, performance art and environmental installations all share an obsession with repetition, pattern, and accumulation. (She herself has describes herself as an "obsessive artist.")
Kusama's work is based in Conceptual art and shows some attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, Art Brut, pop art, and abstract expressionism, and is infused with autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content. Kusama is also a published novelist and poet, and has created notable work in film and fashion design."
Yayoi Kusama Official Site: http://www.yayoi-kusama.jp/
Yayoi Kusama's Wiki entry here.
Wednesday, 28 March 2012
Thursday, 22 March 2012
"The interview covers the critical failure of Preminger's "Saint Joan" and the success of "À bout de souffle". The discussion about her psychology is eerie; Seberg committed suicide in 1979"
"Jean Dorothy Seberg (November 13, 1938 – August 30, 1979) was an American actress. She starred in 37 films in Hollywood and in France, including Breathless (1960), the musical Paint Your Wagon (1969) and the disaster film Airport (1970).
Jean Seberg was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, the daughter of Dorothy Arline (née Benson), a substitute teacher, and Edward Waldemar Seberg, a druggist. Her family was Lutheran and of Swedish, English, and German ancestry. Seberg studied at the University of Iowa.
Seberg made her film debut in 1957 in the title role of Saint Joan, from the Shaw play, after being chosen from 18,000 hopefuls by director Otto Preminger in a $150,000 talent search. Her name was entered by a neighbor. By the time she was cast, on October 21, 1956, her only acting experience had been a single season of summer stock performances. The film was paired with a great deal of publicity about which Seberg commented that she was "embarrassed by all the attention". Despite a big build-up, called in the press a "Pygmalion experiment", both the film and Seberg received poor notices. On the failure, she later told the press:
- "I have two memories of Saint Joan. The first was being burned at the stake in the picture. The second was being burned at the stake by the critics. The latter hurt more. I was scared like a rabbit and it showed on the screen. It was not a good experience at all. I started where most actresses end up."
Preminger, though, had promised her a second chance, and he cast Seberg in his next film Bonjour Tristesse the following year, which was filmed in France. Regarding his decision, Preminger told the press: "It's quite true that, if I had chosen Audrey Hepburn instead of Jean Seberg, it would have been less of a risk, but I prefer to take the risk. [..] I have faith in her. Sure, she still has things to learn about acting, but so did Kim Novak when she started." Seberg again received atrocious reviews and the film nearly ended her career. Her next role was in the 1959 comedy, The Mouse That Roared, starring Peter Sellers.
Deciding she had no luck in English-language films, Seberg moved to France, where she scored success as the free-love heroine of French New Wave films. Most notably, she appeared as Patricia in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (original French title: À bout de souffle), in which she co-starred with Jean-Paul Belmondo. The film became an international success and critics praised Seberg's performance, François Truffaut even hailing her "the best actress in Europe." Despite her achievements in this genre, Seberg did not identify with her characters or the film plots, saying that she was "making films in France about people [she's] not really interested in." The critics did not agree with Seberg's absence of enthusiasm, and raved about her performances, inspiring Hollywood and Broadway to make her important offers.
In 1961, Seberg took on the lead role in her then husband François Moreuil's debut film, La recréation. By that time, Seberg had been estranged from Moreuil, and she recollected that production was "pure hell" and that he "would scream at [her]." After moving back to the United States, she starred opposite Warren Beatty in Lilith (1964), which prompted the critics to acknowledge Seberg as a serious actress.
In 1969, she appeared in her first and only musical film, Paint Your Wagon, based on Lerner and Loewe's stage musical, and co-starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, but her singing voice was dubbed by Anita Gordon. Seberg also starred in the disaster film Airport (1970) opposite Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin.
At the peak of her career, Seberg suddenly stopped acting in Hollywood films. Reportedly, she was not pleased with the roles she had been offered, some of which, she noted, bordered on pornography. Conversely, she was not offered any great Hollywood roles, regardless of their size.Some have said she was blacklisted due to an infamous FBI smear campaign revolving around issues in her personal life. Others have dismissed that any blacklist occurred. Seberg was willing to work in a Paramount production whose screenplay she had been sent but the film was never made.
Seberg was François Truffaut's first choice for the central role of Julie in Day for Night but, after several fruitless attempts to contact her, Truffaut gave up and cast British actress Jacqueline Bisset instead. Her state of mind may have been responsible for this missed opportunity in 1973. Her last US film appearance was in the TV movie Mousey (1974). Seberg remained busy during the 1970s, but only in European films.
Seberg later appeared in Bianchi cavalli d'Agosto (White Horses of Summer) (1975), Le Grand Délire (Die Große Ekstase) (1975, with husband Dennis Berry) and Die Wildente (1976, based on Ibsen's The Wild Duck).
Seberg married François Moreuil, a French movie director who directed her in La récréation, in 1958; they divorced in 1960. According to Seberg, the marriage was a "violent" one, and she complained that she "got married for all the wrong reasons." On living in France for a period of time, Seberg said in an interview:
- "I'm enjoying it to the fullest extent. I've been tremendously lucky to have gone through this experience at an age where I can still learn. That doesn't mean that I will stay here. I'm in Paris because my work has been here. I'm not an expatriate. I will go where the work is. The French life has its drawbacks. One of them is the formality. The system seems to be based on saving the maximum of yourself for those nearest you. Perhaps that is better than the other extreme in Hollywood, where people give so much of themselves in public life that they have nothing left over for their families. Still, it is hard for an American to get used to. Often I will get excited over a luncheon table only to have the hostess say discreetly that coffee will be served in the other room. [..] I miss that casualness and friendliness of Americans, the kind that makes people smile. I also miss blue jeans, milk shakes, thick steaks and supermarkets."
In 1962, she married French novelist and diplomat Romain Gary, who was 24 years her senior. Their only child together, a son, was named Diego. During her marriage to Gary, Seberg lived in Paris, Greece, Southern France and Majorca, but remained an American citizen throughout.
During the late 1960s, Seberg used her high-profile image to privately voice support for the NAACP and supported Native American school groups such as the Mesquaki Bucks at the Tama settlement near her home town of Marshalltown, for whom she purchased $500 worth of basketball uniforms. She also supported the Black Panther Party.
After Richard Nixon's resignation from the presidency, the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-ID) and usually referred to as the Church Committee, revealed that the FBI used illegally obtained information about Jean Seberg to concoct an article it planted in Newsweek magazine that defamed the actress, who was then seven months pregnant with her second child.
The FBI's goal was to "cause her embarrassment and serve to cheapen her image with the public".
According to some authors and researchers, the FBI's actions against Jean Seberg resulted in her suicide. Her death led fifteen months later to the suicide of her husband Romain Gary, although his suicide note denied any connection between their two suicides.
The story planted by the FBI in Newsweek magazine was related to allegations that Seberg had an affair with Clint Eastwood while filming Paint Your Wagon. and that in 1970, Seberg had an affair with a college student named Carlos Navarra, which resulted in her pregnancy with her daughter. It was when she was seven months pregnant that the FBI created the false story that the child she was carrying was not fathered by her husband Romain Gary, but by a member of the Black Panther Party, Raymond Hewitt. The story was also reported by gossip columnist Joyce Haber of the Los Angeles Times, and Newsweek magazine. During her pregnancy, Seberg claimed that her husband Gary was the father. She gave birth to a girl named Nina on August 23, 1970 in Geneva, but the infant died two days later. She held an open casket funeral in her hometown to allow the curious to see the infant's color.
In 1972, she married film director Dennis Berry.
David Richards, author of the book Played Out: The Jean Seberg Story, presents a different version of Jean's problems, describing them as having compounded after a relationship she had in 1979 with an Algerian named Ahmed Hasni. Richards affirms that Jean had "a form of marriage" to Ahmed Hasni through a ceremony on May 31, 1979 that had no legal force because she was still married to Berry. As per Richards, in July, Hasni persuaded her to sell her second apartment on the Rue du Bac, and he kept the proceeds (reportedly 11 million francs in cash), announcing that he would use the money to open a Barcelona restaurant. The couple departed for Spain but she was soon back in Paris alone, and went into hiding from Hasni, who she said had grievously abused her. Charles Champlin, film and arts critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote in 1979 a piece entitled "Jean Seberg: A Hollywood tragedy", where he affirms that in her later life, Seberg dealt with clinical depression, something he asserts was not revealed until after her death.
Seberg was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris, France.In August 1979, she went missing and was found dead eleven days later in the back seat of her car, which was parked close to her Paris apartment in the 16th arrondissement. The police report stated that she had taken a massive overdose ofbarbiturates and alcohol (8g per liter). A suicide note ("Forgive me. I can no longer live with my nerves.") was found in her hand, and "probable suicide" was ultimately ruled the official cause of death by the French coroner. However, it is often questioned how she could have operated a car with that amount of alcohol in her body, and without the corrective lenses she needed for driving. One year later, her former husband Romain Gary committed suicide.
In 1995, a documentary of her life was made by Mark Rappaport, titled From the Journals of Jean Seberg. Mary Beth Hurt played Seberg in a voice-over. Appropriately, Hurt was also born in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1948, attended the same high school as Seberg, and Seberg had been her babysitter. A musical, Jean Seberg, by librettist Julian Barry, composer Marvin Hamlisch, and lyricist Christopher Adler, based on Seberg's life, was presented in 1983 at the National Theatre in London.
Mexican author and diplomat Carlos Fuentes mirrored their short-termed alleged love story in his 1994 novel Diana o La Cazadora Solitaria (Diana, or The Solitary Hunter).
The short 2000 film Je t'aime John Wayne is a tribute parody of Breathless, with Camilla Rutherford playing Seberg's role.
In 2004, the French author Alain Absire published Jean S., a fictionalised biography. Seberg's son, Alexandre Diego Gary, brought a lawsuit unsuccessfully attempting to stop publication.
In 1991, Jodie Foster, a fan of her performance in Breathless, purchased the film rights to the David Richards' biography about Seberg, Played Out: The Jean Seberg Story. She was going to produce and star in the film. The project was cancelled two years later.
In 2011, filming began in New York City on a biopic tentatively titled, 'Jean', starring artist and heiress Daphne Guinness as Jean Seberg.
November 10-13, 2011 The first annual Jean Seberg International Film Festival (JSIFF) was held in Marshalltown at The Newly remodeled Orpheum Theater Center where Jean watched movies as a child and then later starred in them. It was a lovely event that featured seven of Jean's movies and symposia by Seberg biographer Garry McGee author of Jean Seberg-Breathless, and Kelly & Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films. The three are currently (2-28-2012) in post production on their documentary “Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg,” and another with Marshalltown native and film historian David Hinton, PhD., University of Tennessee, and “St. Jean” website author Jude Rawlins of London. Jude also performed music he'd composed for Jean. Amy & Adams, featuring Amy Adams-Westin and her husband Marshalltown native Mark Adams(now Mark Adams-Westin) performed "I'm Flying," Mark's tune that captures Jean inner dialog as she came to the decision to chase her theatrical dreams. Mark sang at Jean's daughter Nina's memorial service while employed at Seberg Pharmacy in September 1970. Planning is already in progress on future JSIFFs.
- Paint Your Wagon (1969)
[unknown (at least for us) photographer and date]
"What a waste of time, dear Jacques, what a hopeless waste of time.
He's attractive and he's nice.
And l'd like to warn him...
but he wouldn't understand that l can't feel anything he might be interested in...
because l'm surrounded by a wall.
An invisible wall made of memories l can't lose."
(Cecile, played by Jean Seberg, in 'Bonjour tristesse', Otto Preminger, 1958)
Jean Seberg by the lake, 1961
Jean Seberg's The Mike Wallace Interview, 01/04/1958
Jean Seberg in 1977 (in http://www.saintjean.co.uk/portrait.htm)
(According to Larry M. Belmont rectification on theApr 12, 2012 02:37 AM:
"The photo captioned "Jean Seberg in 1977" is actually a still from "Lilith" (1964). Jeanophiles - like me - will recognize the tailoring and details of her linen dress and the infamous "Lilith Wig." That wig changes shape quite distractingly during the barn scene in which Warren Beatty throws her into a haypile in a fit of jealousy over a (suspected) lesbian dalliance. I am not sure, if that wig had come off during the scuffle, that the crew would have been able to find it quickly amid the hay. It was that flaxen, waxen, and fake. Underneath was Jean's famous gamine cut, but the mythical Lilith character she embodied required her to have the "alluring mane of a temptress" - albeit a stunt mane - one of the worst wigs in cinema history. Granted, it's not as eye-gougingly gasp-inducing as the piece of displaced sod Samuel L. Jackson sported in "The Negotiator," or the ScotchGuarded Ken doll coiffure Travolta sported in "Wild Hogs," or even the tired clump of stringy-greezy seaweed John Wayne had plastered on his skull in "The Conquerer." ")