13
Sep
11

Films, Events and Symposia: ‘Jack Smith: A Feast for Open Eyes’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London

Dates: 7th – 18th September 2011

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His photographic works are rare and remain largely unknown according to Wikipedia. They shouldn’t be.

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“Jack Smith (November 14, 1932 in Columbus, Ohio – September 25, 1989 in New York City) was an American filmmaker, actor, and pioneer of underground cinema. He is generally acclaimed as a founding father of American performance art, and has been critically recognized as a master photographer, though his photographic works are rare and remain largely unknown.

Smith was one of the first proponents of the aesthetics which came to be known as ‘camp’ and ‘trash’, using no-budget means of production (e.g. using discarded color reversal film stock) to create a visual cosmos heavily influenced by Hollywood kitsch, orientalism and with Flaming Creatures created drag culture as it is currently known. Smith was heavily involved with John Vaccaro, founder of The Playhouse of The Ridiculous, whose disregard for conventional theater practice deeply influenced Smith’s ideas about performance art. In turn, Vaccaro was deeply influenced by Smith’s aesthetics. It was Vaccaro who introduced Smith to glitter and in 1966 and 1967, Smith created costumes for Vaccaro’s Playhouse of The Ridiculous. Smith’s style influenced the film work of Andy Warhol as well as the early work of John Waters. While all three were part of the 1960s gay arts movement, Vaccaro and Smith refuted the idea that their sexual orientation was responsible for their art.

After his last film, No President (1967), Smith created performance and experimental theatre work until his death on September 25, 1989 from AIDS-related pneumonia.”

Text from Wikipedia entry

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Many thankx to the ICA for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Analog C-print hand printed from original color negative on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
14 x 11 inches (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
1982
Mixed media on paper
6 1/8 x 8 7/8 inches (15.6 x 22.5 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Black and white gelatin silver print
10 x 8 inches (25.4 x 20.3 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Analog C-print hand printed from original color negative on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
14 x 11 inches (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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“Legendary American artist, filmmaker and actor Jack Smith (1932-1989), described by Andy Warhol as the only person he would ever copy and by John Waters as “the only true underground filmmaker”, is celebrated at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in film, performance and debate with a retrospective of Smith’s work from 7 to 18 September 2011.

Working in New York from the 1950s until his death in 1989, Smith unequivocally resisted and upturned accepted conventions, whether artistic, moral or legal. Irreverent in tone and delirious in effect, Smith’s films, such as the notorious Flaming Creatures (1963), are both wildly camp and subtly polemical. Smith is best known for his contributions to underground cinema but his influence extends across performance art, photography and experimental theatre.

A Feast for Open Eyes: Jack Smith maps out the breadth of Smith’s practice, from his collaborative film productions to his individual writings, and looks at his legacy in the UK drawing upon a generation of New York artists with whom Smith was closely involved, including Jonas Mekas and Penny Arcade, and younger artists and filmmakers whom he influenced. John Zorn, a long-term Smith collaborator selects records to accompany an installation of slides documenting Smith’s work, as he used to in collaboration with Smith in the 1970s and 80s.

The retrospective opens with a screening of Flaming Creatures introduced by Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern, who was a close friend of Smith’s. The film is followed by the screening of an interview, recorded exclusively for the ICA this summer, with Jonas Mekas, a founder member of Anthology Film Archives who faced obscenity charges for defending Flaming Creatures in the 1960s. The presentation is introduced by Dominic Johnson, author of the forthcoming monograph Glorious Catastrophe: Jack Smith, Performance and Visual Culture (Manchester University Press) and co-curator of A Feast for Open Eyes.”

Press release from the ICA website

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1978
Mixed media on paper
13 x 20 3/4 inches (33 x 52.7 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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.

Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Analog C-print hand printed from original color negative on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
14 x 11 inches (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

.

.

Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Black and white gelatin silver print
10 x 8 inches (25.4 x 20.3 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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.

Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Black and white gelatin silver print
10 x 8 inches (25.4 x 20.3 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c. 1958-62
Color negative
2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches 
(5.7 x 5.7 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Institute of Contemporary Arts
The Mall,
London,
SW1Y 5AH

Opening hours:
Monday – Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 12 noon – 11pm
Thursday – Saturday 12 noon – 1am
Sunday 12 noon – 9pm

ICA website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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