Monday, February 6, 2017

2/8/17 SMITH: The films of Harry Smith & Jack Smith


# No. 11: Mirror Animations

by Harry Smith, (1956–57) 16MM, Color, 3:35min / 12min.

A collage animation from 1956 that Smith later expanded into a longer version. Iimagery of occult and religious symbolism—alchemy, the Kabbalah, Buddhism, Eliphas Levi’s Baphomet, and more—soundtrack by "Misterioso" by Thelonious Monk 


Directed by Jack Smith, 1963, 16MM B/W, 45 min.
Nothing short of notorious, Flaming Creatures marked a significant moment in the history of postwar American film and culture. The film was banned and seized, caused theaters to be shut down, and was the subject of an obscenity case that reached the US Supreme Court. And yet Flaming Creatures was, according to Smith, ultimately meant to be a comedy. On a rooftop above one of New York’s oldest extant (now demolished) movie houses, characters disrupt gender and sexual “norms” as they act out carnal fantasies on a set resembling an Arabian harem. Excerpts from Sternberg’s The Devil is a Woman contribute to Tony Conrad’s assembled soundtrack as Smith’s creatures dance and chase one another about the bacchanal.

[“Harry Smith with Flowers and Cigarette in the kitchen 437 East 12th Street NYC, apple juice & file Folder of his designs on table, Portrait of first Cheka head propped on Piano in guest room, August 3, 1986. (Ginsberg caption)] c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Harry Smith (May 29, 1923 in Portland, Oregon – November 27, 1991 in New York City) was a visual artist, experimental filmmaker, record collector, bohemian, mystic, and largely self-taught student of anthropology. An important figure in the Beat Generation scene in New York City.

Jack Smith (November 14, 1932 – September 25, 1989) 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.

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