Familial History (Sculpture, Film and Horror): a Q&A with Darren Banks

filmstill_Crucible_of_Terror_1971

Darren Banks explores familial and technological histories through the integration of a filmic and sculptural language. Incorporating all the things we love here at The Girl Who Knew Too Much – cinema, horror, science fiction, darkness – Banks’ installations, videos, and drawings cull from an interest to seek out the possibility of what imagery can contain and produce. I’ve done interviews with Banks before and have worked with him on projects such as The Palace Collection, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, Empty Distances, and his recent Palace ProjectsOur latest discussion stems from his recent work stemming from his relative (horror actor, sculpture) Churton Fairman/Mike Raven. 

Untitled_NVprojectsCC: Your previous works have concentrated on reading film through a sculptural language whereas the Evermore installation focuses more on sculpture being presented in cinema. I’m thinking of both the references to Churton Fairman/Mike Raven’s horror film history and the animation of his sculptures through manipulated film techniques. Can you discuss your interest in the image of the sculptural object in this project?

DB: My intention was to explore the relationship between Churton Fairman’s work as a horror film actor and sculptor, within the context of my own practice.  So this new body of work started with a formal idea to apply cinematic editing techniques to a series of short films of sculptures by Fairman. The original footage was shot in the 1990s, and shows the wooden carvings slowly revolving in black space. The plan was to use editing techniques commonly found in horror film as a set of rules that would change the character of each sculpture. I started experimenting with a dolly zoom (Jaws, 1975), jump cut (2001: A Space Odyssey, 1962), double exposure (Vampyr, 1932).

However, once I began making the work, I started to think not only about the way editing could affect the object, but also how elements from Churton’s past life could effect or haunt his sculptures.

I used Aftereffects to create more elaborate work: Radio Vibrations is a sculpture that’s physically affected by radio waves/sound/music; the sculptural vignette Talkie depicts two figures in conversation taking on the roles of Churton and his interviewer discussing the history of pirate radio; Beta Blob is a metamorphosis into itself referencing the transformation of Fredric March in Dr. Jeckyl / Mr. Hyde (1931), or Landis’s werewolf. 

For me, probably the most effective and poignant sculptures were the simplest, such as Pirouette a two-sided spinning sculpture that I sped up until both sides merged into each other. Through this very simple technique a new image/object is created, where Churton’s and my sculptures both exist at the same time, each with their own individual meaning, simultaneously moving and static. In Match-cut two seemingly unconnected images flicker from one to the other creating an uncanny optical illusion of a looping whole. 

By simplifying the effects I could start to understand how movement affects an object, and how movement enables you to perceive a three dimensional object within space. The loop, spin and repetition are all integral to understanding the form of an object. Essentially movement gives the illusion that a 2D image is a 3D object, and this is how film can become sculpture. I think it’s helped me to get closer to my intention to try and make sculpture out of film.

DiscipleofdeathCC: There’s a displacement of the original sculptural image in this work. I’m particularly interested in how implementing movement onto static images evokes an uncanny image, one that makes an inanimate “dead” object come alive. This, of course, implies a strong connection to the horror genre. Can you comment on this and on your/Raven’s relationship to horror film?

As a sculptor I have always been interested in this idea, essentially my move into filmmaking was an extension of the need to create movement within the inanimate object. This is the point where I come back to my early film Interiors (2005); I’ve always be fascinated by how horror films can create an emotional charge by their use of lighting, sound, camera work and architecture, giving objects life through atmosphere and tension. For me the way that horror film layers these effects is very sculptural – where a slow tracking shot moves around architecture, mapping the space to create suspense.

I recently went to see Dario Argento at the BFI where he used a scene from Tenebre (see clip) which, for me, is the prefect example of this layering of effect.

Churton Fairman AKA Mike Raven was always Dracula, never Frankenstein, so I’m not sure what he would have thought about bringing inanimate objects back to life; although I’m told back in the day he did have a signed Aleister Crowley book so maybe he would have liked my tin pot alchemy! There are even rumors of Churton practicing the black arts but I think that was just hearsay (or part of a PR campaign when he was trying to make it as a British horror film actor). On a side note I was very impressed to find out that one of Mike’s favourite films was the Witch Finder General. It’s a brilliant film and I’m also big fan of Michael Reeves, a very talented director whose early death cut short his promising career.

To my knowledge Mike only starred in four horror films (Lust for a Vampire, 1971; I, Monster, 1971; Crucible of Terror, 1971; and Disciple of Death, 1972) but I really like that, there is something intimate and focused about his small cannon of horrors. The film that really stands out, and I think is relevant to your question, is Crucible of Terror, a film that I know you have already written about on you website. It’s a kind of 1970s English Bucket of Blood, where Mike plays an obsessed artist (looking for perfection) who killed a woman by casting her in bronze whilst she was still alive. Unfortunately the film seems to fade into a weird revenge ‘who done it’ movie as each of the characters start to get bumped off! – but that doesn’t matter, there are some great scenes of people being killed by art and for art, as well as the sculptor at work, a gallery private view and so on. Apart from the literal references to art and horror the film really resonated with me because of how it seems to fit into narrative of Mike’s life, in that he became an artist many years after playing the character, so the lines between fact and fiction are blurred, not made up but just part of the serendipity of life.

CC: Back to objects, similar to your previous works the monitors in Evermore and The Object Echo are a visible component to the installation. Is it important to you to reveal the relationship between technology and the image? Between what is producing the image and the image being produced?

DB: I think these two shows serve well in answering that question. For me there has always been a close connection between the image and how its displayed, and the technology usually becomes an integral part of the assemblage of the sculpture; but my recent works using projectors have made me think about the how the object/ film can exist without the cube, and within different architectural structures.

I really enjoy getting my hand on loads of old clapped out CRT monitors from Baltic39 for The Object Echo to recreate the sculpture’s storage shelving at the Fairman’s house in Cornwall. In that sense it felt more about the physicality of how the work was displayed and what the film was displayed on. The use of Cathode Ray Television monitors was very important, not just as an aesthetic choice, but to display the film in its correct format as it was originally shot for TV. In fact here is a link to Curator William Copper blogging about CRT monitors in relation to my show. 

In contrast Evermore at Workplace felt more focused on the sculpture and the effects that I placed upon them, it was good to take the films away from the TV and scale them up to look at the objects relationship to the gallery architecture. It felt like the monitors took second stage, as these small spinning objects became more like weird monumental totemic signs. There was less emphasis on Mike Raven and more on my process of making. 

DSC01166

CC: Considering your interest in horror, it’s incredible that you’re related to someone associated with classic British b-movie horror films. How did you become aware that Mike Raven was a part of your family and how the documentary footage wound up in your possession? What do Raven’s and your family think about this project?

It all started with my Mum, she was working on her family tree with her second cousin; after along conversation about our extended family it turned out I was related to a radio DJ, Horror film actor and sculptor named Churton Fairman (aka Mike Raven) who died in 1997. My Mum knew about my interests in sculpture and horror and thought I’d be interested in Churton. I’d never heard of him before, but after spending a bit of time researching online, it was easy to see that he was quite a character who led a very complex and rich life: here was a guy who loved blues and RB music who left his life as a Radio DJ to become a Horror film actor (going on to work with the likes of Lee & Cushing) then leaving all that and moving to Cornwall to become a sheep farmer and sculptor. His obituary in the Independent reads like a fairytale. 

After my initial research I started to think about his life and our similar interests, but I wasn’t sure where to go with it. I started collecting his memorabilia, and from that point I’ve been a kind of fan collecting programs, records, dvds and posters from all the different parts of his life. It wasn’t till a bit later on that my Mum mentioned the documentary and that for the later part of his life he was very active carving wood and stone. It turns out that in the early 1990s with help of a friend, he made a documentary about his life as a sheep farmer and sculptor and its been sitting in a box unedited on beta tape at the family home in Cornwall for about 10 years. So I decided to visit and have a chat with my cousin, which led to her giving me the documentary to work with in anyway I saw fit, so with the help of LUX who digitized all the footage for free (thanks LUX), I was able to make a new body of work and also finish the documentary.

Mike RavenCC: What are you working on next? Do you plan to continue exploring the Mike Raven’s history in further works?

DB: At the moment I’m attempting to finish editing the documentary about Churton’s later life as a sculptor, which I hope to finish by early next year. I’m also working with Ele Carpenter to get one of the sculptures placed within a museum collection. It would be my homage to Churton to ensure his work is preserved for the future.

I’ve started to think about my work outside of the confines of horror and horror film, revisiting ideas about collecting and archives something which has been apparent through a number of different projects and working process’s which have involved collecting large amounts of film footage/images and objects, appropriating them into sculptural assemblages and film montage. From working with Churton’s documented life to the reassembling of museum objects for the Backwater exhibition in Northampton and of course my ongoing work with Palace Video Label.

But yes – I do see myself working with more footage from the documentary and I intend to look at different aspects of his career in more depth. I think if you bring together all the different elements of Churton’s life you start to see a contemporary figure and that is what I find most fascinating. I’d also like to revisit his horror film and present a film screening of his back catalogue, and favourite films.  

I’m currently finishing an online curated project called the Annotated Palace Poster Project where I’ve invited 15 artists to produce a poster for one the 15 films that make up the Palace Collection (a small library of horror films on the Palace video label). The posters are by the likes of, Jamie Shovlin, Michelle Hannah, John Russell, Flora Whiteley plus many more. The images will eventually sit alongside 15 short texts by artists and writers in response to the original films in a Palace Projects publication. The texts are all really different by people like Gilda Williams, Ben Fallon, Lorena Muñoz-Alonso etc. It’s been great to work with such interesting people, and the next step is to bring everything together in a publication.  

Exhibition Image Credit:
Untitled, NV projects, London
Wooden Sculpture Courtesy of Mandy Fairman
Photo Credit: Peter White

Five Questions on Horror & Architecture: AIDA RUILOVA

02-Meet-the-Eye

Artist and filmmaker Aida Ruilova provides the first set of answers to a series of questions about horror and architecture The Girl Who Knew Too Much is asking artists, filmmakers, curator, and writers.

Five Questions on Horror & Architecture: AIDA RUILOVA


Do you think architecture has the power to be horrific? If so, how?

Architecture manipulates our perception of space. Its effect can be subliminal which makes it very powerful. It can be mesmerizing as much as it can be oppressive.

How has architecture and/or horror impacted, influenced, or been represented in your work?

My works have dealt with the interior and exterior, the body: the human condition.

Why do you think horror narrative continuously returns to the home?

The home is considered a safe space, it gives us the illusion of security and safety. We need the mundane, the everyday to reflect on what we don’t understand.

How do architecture and horror similarly (or dissimilarly) pinpoint/reflect the historical (cultural, socio-political, etc)?

There’s a permanence to architecture because it’s bound as an object. Horror’s ability to reflect the current psyche is shaped by the conflict in our times.

What would be your favorite representation of architecture in a horror film or vice-versa?

‘Rope’ is as chilling in its storytelling as it is in the calculated lengths a director will go to shape a film. Hitchcock wanted the single set film to appear to be one continuous long take. Through set design and some creative panning he was able to create the allusion. It’s technical prowess reveals what it takes to support continuity of mood and narrative in the architecture of a film.

Aida Ruilova – GONER (2010)

yasly_goner_a

Quiet, guttural, and violent, Aïda Ruilova’s Goner (2010) is an intimate and full throttle engagement with the unknown. A young woman, clothed in only a long t-shirt and underwear, is covered in blood and alone in a bedroom. Laying face down when we first see her, with gashes at her ankles, the battle between her and the room in which she’s contained plays in an endless loop. Punching, stabbing, screaming, staring; she fights the small world around her. Heightening the sense of unease and inescapable containment are the ambiguities as to whether she is really alone, who or what is assaulting her, or if the room is even hers. Camera perspectives shift from an all-seeing eye to a personal gaze that becomes our own. The perverse imagination runs wild.

tumblr_mkvtrkWKDr1ri8asco1_500From the aesthetics and narrative established in the Italian giallo to the cliche tropes in the American slasher, Aïda Ruilova embodies the cinematic history of the horror film girl in under ten minutes. Goner is a rather forceful gesture towards acknowledging all the cultural and political implications associated with the complicated role of the young woman in horror film (the ‘final girl’, the survivor, the redeemer, the victim). Her evolution of weakness to strength unfolds before us as she becomes unwittingly involved in a landscape of life and death. At once an indulgence in stereotype and a liberation from that stereotype, the horror heroine is a violent and hyperreal representation of what is means to be a woman in the world.

129581229_640

And what better space to pinpoint this disjuncture between the life and death of women than in the architectural realm of the home, the bedroom? With a heart shaped bed, the girl in Goner is in a position of desire and longing but as the room distorts, the idea of pleasure becomes one of intense pain. Here the psychological discord of a woman coming undone in her own home echos the sad intensity of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965) in which a beautiful woman loses her insanity when alone and trapped in her apartment. It also makes reference to the physical and sexual assaults inflicted on a young mother by and invisible and ghostly being in 1982’s The Entity. Spanning one hundred years and as many films, from F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) to the current The Conjuring (2013), domesticity is the psychological realm where horror and women confront each other head on. This inextricable link between horror, the home, and women is the structural support of Goner as the mystery between a young girl and a living space rages on.

Watch Goner here.

houseofpsychoticwomen

Book review: House of Psychotic Women

houseofpsychoticwomenPer the enthusiastic recommendation by Fangoria‘s Sam Zimmerman, I recently purchased and immediately devoured House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films Book by Kier-La Janisse (FAB Press). 

Despite its obvious subtitle, I expected a somewhat standard anthology of horror films featuring women in horror films. And while that actually may have been enough, what this book is instead is so much more; an unexpectedly raw narrative of a woman’s journey as related, and influenced, by horror films. House of Psychotic Women is perfectly whip smart, with just the right combination of academic philosophical references, personal narratives, and film analysis. That Janisse has the ability and bravery to discuss her life in these terms is beyond engrossing, it’s admirable. 

As with most female horror fans, people love to ask me what it is I get out of horror. I give them the stock answers: catharsis, empowerment, escapism and so on. Less easy to explain is the fact that I gravitate towards films that devastate and unravel me completely – a good horror film will more often make me cray than make me shudder. I remember someone describing their first time seeing Paulus Manker’s The Moor’s Head as so devastating they had to lie on the sidewalk when they exited the theatre. Now, that’s what I look for in a film.

For those of us who have an obsession with horror films (and we do for numerous and various reasons) there is a common denominator the Janisse underlines throughout the book: the ultimate reason why we watch these movies that we can’t stop watching is because something about them reflects ourselves. Not that we’re all murderous psychos, but the psychological breakdowns displayed before us in cinema tend to resonate with those who, quite frankly, aren’t like everyone else. And while my personal research of horror tends to purposefully sidestep the affect/cathartic aspect of horror, Janisse managed to get me to consider how these aspects of horror cinema actually do affect me. She is so dead on (see quote above, only from page 7) because it’s the power of cinema, the lure of the ugliness in life, the punched-in-the-heart feeling that horror films produce that also keep me coming back for more. 

One of my favorite films discussed in the book…

burnt_offerings_poster_01

 

Behind the knife: horror versus terror

Differentiation by Evan Calder Williams between horror and terror that reflects both a representational turn (in terms of genre) and in real-life manifestations. Horror is repetitive, recyclable, unending, instructive.

Terror is about the threat to life, the knife behind you. Horror, conversely, is about the threat to understanding, of living to see the after-effects of suddenly realizing you were behind the knife all along. In this way, horror is apocalyptic. It confronts us with the symptoms – and with our complicity in reproducing them – and demands that we find new sets of instructions. – Evan Calder Willams, Combined and Uneven Apocalypse, pg. 226.

Now on Network Awesome: The Burning and A Bucket of Blood

Two essays of mine have landed on the fabulous Network AwesomeThe Burning (horror film and 1980s politics) and A Bucket of Blood (satirical horror and the art world). Check them out:

What Makes a Man Start Fires: 1980s American Culture and The Burning
Through the lens of a campfire horror tale, Tony Maylam’s slasher classic The Burning (1981) begins with a prank gone wrong and ends with a series of revengeful murders. Gleaning from a culturally volatile period in America history, The Burning visually manifests displaced youth in the most gratuitous manner. It perpetuates, capitalizes, and exploits the fear that the unknown can happen to any one…read the rest and watch the film here.

Who Says the Art World Isn’t Scary?: Roger Corman’s Classic, A Bucket of Blood
If there’s a better satirical film on the art world than A Bucket of Blood (1959) then I certainly haven’t seen it (note: John Waters’ Pecker comes close). This playful jab at the beatnik artist types of the 1950s easily translates into the ridiculousness of contemporary art. Reportedly made by “King of the B-movies” Roger Corman for a mere $50k, A Bucket of Blood is a thoughtful and provoking look at the beginning of modern art as cultural phenomenon. It has a lot in common with the 1953 version of House of Wax (André De Toth) in its representation of the frustrated and revengeful artist, however, it moves beyond the artist as “individual” to cleverly mimic — and mock — the capriciousness of the art world as a whole…read the rest and watch the movie here

The Art of Fear: Ghost Stories on October 19

The second part of The Art of Fear artist film exhibition is this Wednesday (October 19) in the upstairs lobby at Nitehawk Cinema! The event is free and starts at 7pm with films beginning shortly after – the program will be shown twice. See  you all there!

Ghost Stories, the second program of The Art of Fear, features surreal tales of love, life, and death that are brought back from the afterlife in the bizarre and haunting works of My Barbarian (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon and Alexandro Segade, Los Angeles), Aïda Ruilova (New York), and Marnie Weber (Los Angeles). Horror affect and narrative style are huge influencers in these films with inspiration deriving from Rod Serling’s Night Gallery television series, cult figures like Jean Rollin and Karen Black, and the theatrical monstrous characters from early Hollywood. Importantly, The Art of Fear is showing the New York debut of Marnie Weber’s most recent film, The Eternal Heart (2010).

PROGRAM
My Barbarian – Night Epi$ode: Curatorial Purgatorial (Pilot)
2009, Single channel video, 12 minutes, Color, Sound

Aïda Ruilova – Life Like
2006, Single channel video, 5 minutes, Color, Sound

Aïda Ruilova – Lulu
2007, Single channel video, 5 minutes, Color, Sound

My Barbarian – Night Epi$ode: Yoga Matt and Veronika Phoenix
2009, Single channel video, 13 minutes, Color, Sound

Aïda Ruilova – Meet the Eye
2009, Single channel video, 7 minutes, Color, Sound

Marnie Weber – The Eternal Heart (see trailer below)
2010, Shot on Super 8 and 16mm, digital projection, 28 minutes, Color, Sound

Thoughts on “the Art of Fear”: film viewership and why horror?

The first screening of the two-part The Art of Fear series (which will hopefully become a multi-part expanded series) launched last Wednesday to great success with a collection of works by Takeshi Murata, Darren Banks, and Jamie Shovlin titled Pieces. Thanks to all who came out!

Two important strands of thought came out of this initial program (which was also, incidentally, my first foray into exhibiting artist moving images) that I’d like to explore further both in my own curatorial practice and via writing here on TGWKTM…

The first is in consideration of how artist film programs such as The Art of Fear can or should be presented and viewed. My intention with Pieces was to approach in like a gallery context – no seating, no definitive start/stop time, and flexibility of viewership. Meaning, I wanted to embrace the lobby space at Nitehawk not as a dictatorial cinematic space but rather in a manner in which you might approach a static piece of artwork. I’m very interested in an audience encountering a film in a non-time based way, choosing how much time to spend with the work and how entering in different narrative points can alter both the story-line and the audience’s perception of what he/she is seeing. I also embrace the idea of artist films entering into the cinematic sphere, especially as certain artists, like Ben Rivers, produce feature films. It’s simply a matter of context and consideration.

Still, I was surprised the the audience at The Art of Fear was interested in having seating to watch, in its entirety, a program of non-narrative films. In a way I felt as if my curatorial power had been usurped but, in another, it was exciting to see an interest in giving these works undivided attention. This of course has led me to wonder about the sematics of film programming – should this be called a screening? or an exhibition? Are there ways that we, as producers of exhibitions, can set the tone for how the audience will view the artwork or, ultimately, is it that power inherent in the audience? The next portion of the program/exhibition/screening Ghost Stories with My Barbarian, Aida Ruilova, and Marnie Weber is narrative in nature and appropriate for a proper sit-down affair. So the experiment will continue. And it’s going to be amazing so please don’t miss it, whether you sit, stand, or squat.

The other strand of thought involves the question of “why horror?” which is relevant to both my own curatorial investigation and the implementation of horror characteristics by artists. While this question is being visually represented, addressed, somewhat answered in the series of exhibitions I am doing, I believe that an essay series of why horror is of personal, cultural, and political interest is just as crucial. Stay tuned!

Sound of Fear

This Saturday (3 September) as part of the Vision Sound Music Festival at the South Bank Centre is London is the Sound of Fear. Quite related to a link I mentioned earlier on sound/music/affect in horror films (actually it’s a topic that keeps coming up more and more). The scoop is below and, oh yes indeed, John Carpenter is included!

Sound of Fear is an epic two-part event featuring an international cast of artists, critics and composers brought together in a celebration of the music and sound design of the horror film. Through live performance and discussion, Sound of Fear explores the musical universe of horror, with its supernatural soundscapes and shrieking string arrangements, and pays homage to the masters of musical menace who have made the horror movie soundtrack a melting pot of opposing musical cultures.
Tracing the historical developments and cultural significance of music set to horror films, Sound of Fear looks at the introduction of the European avant garde into popular culture via the Hammer pictures of the 50s, Bernard Herrmann’s redefinition of how horror was heard with his revolutionary score for Hitchcock’s Psycho and the influence of cult director John Carpenter’s atmospheric genre scores of the late 70s and early 80s on a new wave of musicians working today.

Artist Vicki Bennett’s (aka People Like Us) will be screening Horror Collage (2008) on Saturday 3rd September, Part 1 6pm-8:10pm and Part 2 8:30pm – 10:30pm. Watch a clip here.

Click here for times, schedule, and ticket information.

Summer Horror and Art Link Roundup

As summer winds down and I get ready to kick this blog back into high-gear for autumn, here are some art/horror/curating links from the past couple of months:

James Morgart’s Hostile Rebirth of Horror: The Morality of Eli Roth’s Hostel 1 and 2 on Horror News.net  
Many of us in the horror academia biz love to look at the classics (Night of the Living Dead, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc.) and with good reason: these films changed the course of horror forever and are still relevant works. However, it’s important to realize that they were made over thirty years ago and the political/social/culture relevance we ascribe to them is in retrospect and not pointed to our moment of now. Some have argued that horror today (at least American horror) doesn’t cut the mustard and, hey, maybe they’re right. Still, it’s critically important that we (and by we I mean all of us fascinated with horror film) to put into context movies of the past decade. And Morgart did that with Roth’s Hostile films quite well. It’s a much needed and appreciated beginning.

Stephen Thrower’s From Goblin to Morricone: the art of horror movie music in the Guardian: 
The usual suspects are at play again here but who doesn’t love to hear about Goblin one more time? This article also reminded me about this book in my Amazon queue (another exhibition idea down the line for sure). 

Matt Zoller Seitz’s Cut-rate budget, first-rate frights (Slide Show: 10 low-cost horror flicks that deliver more than their share of cheap thrills) on Salon.com:
This should really read “10 low-cost NORTH AMERICAN horror flicks” because with the exception Repulsion, movies outside of the U.S./Canada weren’t included. My two most obvious: Italian master Mario Bava and America’s European/”king of the B’s” Edgar G. Ulmer. Still, it’s a damn film list and much kudos are deserved for including Carnival of Souls.

Mario Bava Week on Network Awesome:
Speaking of Mario Bava, Network Awesome did an, ahem, pretty damn awesome series on the influential director claiming it “Mario Bava Week”. I’m going to publicly declare that it should be a celebration of “Mario Bava 24/7/365″ because where would horror be without him? There would be no American slashers or John Carpenter (wait, maybe that would be a good thing). Regardless, endless credit needs to be given to Bava in scholarly horror history and props to Network Awesome for stepping forward with insightful articles and free-style online screenings of his classics like Danger Diabolik and Rapid Dogs (his last film and a true gem).

Jason Zinoman’s book Shock Value:
You could hardly turn a street corner this summer without a mention of Jason Zinoman’s new book Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood and Invented Modern Horror. I still haven’t read it yet so reserving judgment but here’s a list of links you can scoop: The Critique of Pure Horror by Zinoman in the New York Times, Gore Galore: ‘Shock’ and the Birth of Fright Films on NPR, Son of Rosemary’s Baby – review on NYT, and inspired film series at BAM.

Kim Newman and Mark Kermode in Conversation at the British Film Institute:
I’ll be honest, one of the places that I miss most in London is the BFI. There’s no better place to go in the world on a dark and rainy afternoon to see The Picture of Dorian GrayRepulsion, or Eyes without a Face. I’ve even seen bizarro wonders like Miss Leslie’s Dolls to much loving fan-fare on the big screen there. BFI definitely celebrates horror history in a respectful manner. That’s why I wish I could’ve seen this conversation in person, one celebrating the launch of Newman’s “essential horror tome” Nightmare Movies: forty years of fear. Both Newman and Kermode are such visible fans of the genre it becomes infectious.

Ian White’s Invisible Cinemas on LUX:
Ian White talks about the movement of film (artist film and video) from the context of the cinema into the museum saying, “In my experience as a writer – which I think is also shared by some of those in academia, probably to a greater profit – it’s not ‘cinema’ but the museum that is publishing monographs and catalogues that are invaluable resources for research, career enshrinements and a decent contributor’s fee.” For me, I am increasingly attracted to the idea of encountering a film or video as you would an artwork – sometimes half-way through the story but this fractured exposure can break itself open to new readings and increased interest.

Scala Forever film series:
Speaking of London love, how am-az-ing is this multi-month long homage to Scala Cinema? The fact that they use Big Black in the video promo is simply icing on the awesome cake. Sigh. Began 13 August and runs through 2 October.

Maureen Dowd’s Washington Chain Saw Massacre in the New York Times:
It’s interesting how horror is not just a political commentary in-and-of itself but also a comparative tool in which to talk about today’s politics. But as I mentioned above, I think it’s a little tricky to relate what’s happening in the present with films made 30/40/50 years ago. Those films still have resonance but relevance needs to be found with what’s being culturally produced today. It takes more work but it’s going to have more urgency in meaning. Still, Dowd referencing horror is a clear indication of horror’s relevance within popular culture.

Look and Learn in Frieze Magazine:
In celebration of its twenty year run, Frieze Magazine is talking about art world developments during this period.  This conversation with Alex Farquharson, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Anthony Huberman, Christy Lange, Maria Lind, and Polly Staple on the proliferation of curatorial programmes addresses – but appropriately doesn’t solve – the emerging, evolving, contested, and diverse role of the curator since the 1990s. What stuck with me: How do you want to articulate what you stand for and how do you want to share that with the world? To me, that statements strikes on the core of what being a curator is.

On that note I will leave you with the funniest discovery of my summer: a horror/curator convergence featuring none other than Shaft…