Andy Warhol nude troubadour

Back in the eighties when I was unemployed I used to hang out a lot at the old Scala cinema in Kings X coz they did ultra-cheap day time movie screenings…. the programmes varied from day to day, but not that much from month to month, but they showed some great films, and among them a slew of Andy Warhol movies such as Chelsea Girls…. Aside from night screenings of Empire on the outside of the South Bank complex a few years ago, my Warhol viewing experiences recently had been restricted to the Raro reissues on DVD from Italy…. So I figured I’d check out the Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms exhibition before it closed. After all, this Hayward Galley show at the South Bank Centre had been heavily advertised as featuring many of Warhol’s hard-to-see films. Unfortunately, the experience of so much Warholia crammed so tightly together left me feeling disappointed and frustrated.
The first room featured projections of Factory Screen Tests, Warhol memorabilia and a few paintings. Some material was hung so high you couldn’t see it properly, other stuff was hung too low, and the arrangement of the projection made it hard to stand back and enjoy the Screen Tests at a distance. In  case you don’t know (most of you do, I know), the Screen Tests are silent portraits made between 1964 and 1966 in which the often famous subjects look at the camera without moving for two minutes and forty-five seconds. The films are slowed down so that they last four minutes. The Hayward was showing a selection of 40 Screen Tests, so that provided coming on for three hours of fun for any visitor who wanted to watch them all from beginning to end.
The second room was dominated by Warhol’s cable TV productions from 1979 until his death. This cheap TV was laid out like a themed trash chain restaurant from the 1980s… the place was done up with stars and stripes in the form of its hangings and stools…. It was clearly impossible to see all of Warhol’s gaudy TV productions in a single visit (I didn’t clock any info giving running times for this material, but at a guess there was 24 hours worth of viewing, and possibly a lot more)… but I did see plenty of fashion that didn’t much interest me, a lot of Debbie Harry who on the whole looked good, London mod renewal band Secret Affair performing in New York at the start of the eighties… oh let’s fast forward, there was an interview with Cindy Sherman, and while it was as vacant as any other trash TV culture feature, I can’t recall seeing film of Sherman talking about her work anywhere else, so on that score it was curious… but MOR music bores Hall & Oates were on the same show… On another show I was groovin’ to KONK, then The Ramones appeared and did Bonzo Goes To Blitzberg with like totally amateur handheld camerawork and a couple of girls dancing… oh wacky! Now if the Warhol Foundation stuck this stuff on YouTube I could really enjoy myself with it… but a gallery is the wrong environment to fully enjoy super dumb sleazebag eighties crapola TV.
In a third room were the 1960s films… 19 of them projected in a single space with the sound turned down so low that you could barely hear it, but what audio there was still bled between movies… The set up was visually distracting and might have made for a groovy media total immersion environment if only the volume had been jacked right up on one or more of the films… The sound being so quiet made for a lousy experience, and you couldn’t appreciate anything as an individual item either because of the different projections competing for your attention. The sofas dotted about the place not only made the room feel even more visually cluttered, combined with the black walls they created the impression you were in a really tacky eighties bar. The contextualising material said the combined running times of the films on show ran to nearly 23 hours… There were digital clocks on the wall by each film to tell you how long it had to run, but by watching the change overs between the beginning and end of a few movies, I discovered that the ones I checked were anything up to a couple of minutes out of sync with their timers.
Again, for those that haven’t seen Warhol’s films (hard to imagine for someone like me who grew up on ’em), between 1963 and 1968 he is believed to have shot coming on for 100 films. Of these, perhaps the most notorious is Sleep, which consists of a stationary camera showing poet John Giorno asleep. Likewise, Blow Job boasts 35 minutes of static shots of a man’s head (his face, not someone giving head). Empire is an eight hour stationary shot of the Empire State building in New York with the sun setting behind it, and then rising again; the action consists of the change from day to night and back again, and lights being put on and off in the building. These early films are silent. When sound was introduced, much of it consisted of hipster talk between members of Warhol’s Factory set. Warhol also experimented with split-screen projection, most famously in Chelsea Girls. All the films mentioned here are included in the Hayward show, alongside the likes of Kitchen and Bike Boy. However, my personal favourite Vinyl was missing. Almost compensating for that was Taylor Mead looking totally wack in Nude Restaurant._
From the summer of 1968 onwards, Warhol worked only as a producer on the ongoing series of his Factory films, employing Paul Morrissey to direct them. None of the Morrissey directed films are included in the Hayward show, which is strange since they clearly form a bridge between Warhol’s work as a director prior to 1968 and his cable TV productions of the 1980s. And incidentally I haven’t even mentioned all the moving image material in the show, since there are also Factory Diaries and Videos on side walls of the room containing Warhol’s cable TV.
While Warhol’s TV productions are clearly junk and intended as such, the 1960s movies were carefully composed and in them various formal issues were worked through. The installation of the Warhol films in the Hayward made them look every bit as trashy as his cable TV. So for now the best way of catching this material is via the Raro DVD reissues…. The idea of so overloading a show with video and audio material (yes there were hours of Warhol tape recordings too) that it is impossible to take it all in, even over repeated visits to the exhibition, is kinda funny… but beyond that this show sucked. The Hayward is a large gallery and the upstairs was closed during the Warhol show, so the curators made a conscious decision to cram the work together, they had the option of spreading it out over twice as much space. Warhol was an ironic artist, but if you based your judgement solely on this badly installed exhibition, you’d think he was into trivialisation and nothing else…. Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms even managed to make the Warhol painting it included look bad. There should have been a warning sign outside saying: “Welcome to Planet Hollywood and the new populist curation at the South Bank!”
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Observe on 2009-01-14 15:00:35 +0000

“Back in the eighties when I was unemployed I used to hang out a lot at the old Scala cinema in Kings X coz they did ultra-cheap day time movie screenings…. the programmes varied from day to day, but not that much from month to month, but they showed some great films, and among them a slew of Andy Warhol movies such as Chelsea Girls….”
Blimey, you take me back in time Stewart — the Scala was THE hip place to be. I spent many an all night show cranked up really high and paranoid on cheap amphetamine sulphate, little bag of blue pills in my pockets, or, lost in other worlds all together on acid tabs, looking out at the Scala as if it were some kind of Roman amphitheatre — at one point, I became convinced that I was in some kind of fire storm battle, and for the life of me, I could not find the exit — a frustrated usher ( art student) had to show my friend and I to the exit as a grey and angry dawn flickered on the depressed streets of King X….I had to stop my friend from putting what little moeny we had left in a red post box. Ah, such were the days of the late 70’s and early 80’s — all night 1970’s budget horror movies and Andy Warhol films.
“The past is another country; they do things differently there”.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-14 15:09:15 +0000

Oh I used to like the all nighters too… I remember first seeing Beat Girl at one of those… and when did the Scala move to Kings X? I remember it still being in Tottenham Street in 1979… and actually I think probably still into 1980… but some of the memories are dim… Erm, and what about Warhol????

Comment by Observe on 2009-01-14 15:15:24 +0000

Stewart, you are right — my ref to the late 70’s is incorrect — the Scala indeed, reopened in the early 80’s.
To me, the 80’s was such a barren era in so many ways, I find that I “transfer” all those aspects of the 80’s period that I did actually like –into the late 70’s. Psychological transference perhaps.
I found the following on the net.
” Built to the design of H Courtney Constantine, the Kings Cross Cinema (Scala), was nearing completion when the First World War to began. The partially completed cinema was first used to manufacture airplane parts, and after 1918 as a local labour exchange for demobilized soldiers returning from the war.
Finally completed, the Kings Cross Cinema opened on April 1920. Seating over 1000 people, the auditorium offered a three-hour program, accompanied by a 20-piece orchestra.
At the end of the 1920’s, under the control of Gaumont British Pictures, the cinema staged lavish free Christmas shows for local children – endearing a whole generation.
The King’s Cross Cinema was damaged in air-raids during the Blitz. New owners refurbished the cinema, now called the Gaumont, and it reopened in March 1952. In 1962, the Gaumont became the Odeon and continued to screen mainstream pictures until 1970.
In February 1971, the cinema embarked on a short-lived experiment showing adult films. Soon after it reverted to the King’s Cross Cinema and mainstream features returned. In addition to the programs of films, the venue became a live, all-night, rock venue. Iggy Pop and Hawkwind have played at the Scala. In 1974, this bold move came to an end when the cinemas late-night license was revoked, petitioned by the local residents. Soon after it closed.
Five years later, the King’s Cross Cinema, became a Primatarium. The stalls were reconstructed to resemble a forest. The project failed and on July 1981 the cinema returned as Scala, featuring the classic 1933 version of King Kong on opening night.
The Scala Cinema went on to become one of London’s most famous repertory/art house cinemas. In 1993 the Scala Cinema Club went into receivership after losing a court case over an illegal screening of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
Scala reopened in March 1999 after a radical transformation which included an additional 2 floors. King’s Cross once again plays host to a vibrant and important cultural meeting place, embodied in which is the long and colorful history of both the Scala Cinema Club and The King’s Cross Cinema.”

Comment by Observe on 2009-01-14 15:23:26 +0000

Regarding Warhol — I need to revisit Warhol really, to fully develop any worthwhile critique of the man. In the late 70’s/early 80’s, I was very very influenced by a much older, sophisticated,urbane lady I knew, ( an expert on Expressionist Cinema, Futurism, Dada ) and she despised Warhol, much in the same way any sane people now have little time for Damien Hirst and other “Brit artists” — I respected her knowledge so much, I ( uncritically ) followed her view, besides of course, being totally, unashamedly,completely into any connections Warhol had to the first Velvets album. How could I not like that record? After all, it was the time of The Subway Sect, and I didn’t have many more records in my beat up record box besides “Funhouse” the MC5’s first album ( much of which I found plodding anyway), The Velvets record, and a handful of scratchy Jamaican 45’s, and early DIY punk records?

Comment by Observe on 2009-01-14 15:27:18 +0000

After all, it was the time of The Subway Sect, and I didn’t have many more records in my beat up record box besides “Funhouse”, the MC5’s first album ( much of which I found plodding anyway), The Velvets record, and a handful of scratchy Jamaican 45’s, and early DIY punk records?

Comment by Kate Muir on 2009-01-14 15:59:47 +0000

it’s time Dire turned up and said something in praise of her guru

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-14 16:09:20 +0000

Jealousy will get you no where with me Katie… and Dire is a groove sensation!

Comment by Mr C. Woods Esq. on 2009-01-14 16:27:25 +0000

It’s time Kate Muir turned up to take pathetic bitter stabs at a far more talented and attractive woman… Oh, I got here too late. That Muir, always one step ahead in the predictability stakes.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-14 16:32:27 +0000

Let’s get Billy Name and co. onto Katie, that gang would have her sorted quicker than you could say: “it may be a Blackberry to you, but it’s a gooseberry to me!”???? Toot toot!

Comment by I Shot Valerie Solanas on 2009-01-14 16:43:15 +0000

Hey Chelsea is still a groove…in fact it’s such a groove that I ended up ‘finding myself’ in a bookshop on West 19th Street this weekend. Samadhi doesnt come better than this.

Comment by Kate Muir on 2009-01-14 16:46:22 +0000

so bbye

Comment by Patisserie Valerie on 2009-01-14 17:35:36 +0000

Sorry, the contents of this thread are temporarily unavailable. Please check back later.

Comment by The Virtual Ralph Rugoff on 2009-01-14 17:39:56 +0000

Populist curation is the new rock & roll!

Comment by The Virtual Martin Caiger-Smith on 2009-01-14 17:43:18 +0000

Gimmie a break!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-14 17:45:50 +0000

The Boys sang it best back in the 1970s… I don’t care about rock and roll…. I don’t care about nothing at all…..

Comment by Joseph Vacher on 2009-01-14 18:38:59 +0000

I like all the pretty young actors and actresses in the Warhol films.

Comment by Andy Warhol on 2009-01-14 18:43:05 +0000

Duplicate comment detected. It looks like you’ve already said that.

Comment by I Shot Valerie Solanas on 2009-01-14 19:28:39 +0000

Hey this blog has started to work in a similar way as ’69 Things to Do With A Dead Princess’ did (as a reading list). Except completely different of course

Comment by I Shot Valerie Solanas on 2009-01-14 19:30:01 +0000

That reminds me…I need to forget I’m Stewart Home and concentrate on building my profile as Michael K on sites like Wikipedia.

Comment by Michael K on 2009-01-14 19:37:06 +0000

Oh I’ve been deleted from that joint since, like, 2006. They said I was ‘lacking notability’ which is particularly ridiculous since nobody I know including me had ever taken note of there being a page on Wikipedia about Michael K in the first place. What’s really annoying is that there’s no note noting who noted that the unnotable Michael K was worthy of note.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-14 19:47:15 +0000

Oh Wiki can get very silly, there are a lot of people abusing it… Yeah and sometimes I forget I’m Michael K too….

Comment by Psychedelic Speed on 2009-01-14 22:24:03 +0000

You lot need to drink more coffee, they you’d ‘get’ the Warhol exhibition.
People who take in the caffeine equivalent of three cups of brewed coffee (or seven cups of instant) a day are more likely to hallucinate. People with a caffeine intake that high, whether it comes from coffee, tea, chocolate or caffeinated energy drinks or pills, have a three-times-higher tendency to hear voices and see visions than those who consume the equivalent of a half-cup of brewed coffee (or one cup of instant coffee) daily.
Caffeine is completely absorbed by the stomach and small intestine within 45 minutes of ingestion. Hallucinations are not necessarily a sign of mental illness. Most people will have had brief experiences of hearing voices when there is no one there, and around three percent of people regularly hear such voices. We call the latter category of people shamans and we should heed their spiritual advice!
Drink more coffee and make the world a more spiritual place!

Comment by Mark R Hancock on 2009-01-15 01:46:34 +0000

I saw the exhibition and I really enjoyed it. But having said that, I find it difficult to be critical of Warhol overall (I know the criticism was towards the exhibition, I just can’t be bothered to form a sentient sentence). But still, it felt like I was entering into a warehouse of Warhol’s stuff, or maybe my own mind’s eye version of him. random junk and trash alongside his valid experiments in film-making, all piled up together. While on my trip to London, I also picked up the Marie Menken documentary from BFI, there’s some lovely footage of Warhol faffing about in it.

Comment by Observe on 2009-01-15 02:34:20 +0000

I thought the Boys were power pop version of The Ramones. I know you probably don’t like ’em Mr Home, but they were amazing live in the late 70’s. What Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison etc were to the 50’s, the Ramones were to Punk rockers in the 70’s. Does that comparison do them justice? Yeah, Buddy Holly was good bubble gum pop.
Well I’m against it
I’m against it
Well I’m against it
I’m against it
I don’t like politics
I don’t like communists
I don’t like games and fun
I don’t like anyone
Well I’m against it
I’m against it
Well I’m against it
I’m against it
I don’t like Jesus freaks
I don’t like circus geeks
I don’t like summer and spring
I don’t like anything
I don’t like sex and drugs
I don’t like water bugs
I don’t care about poverty
All I care about is me
Well I’m against it
I’m against it
Well I’m against it
I’m against it
I don’t like playing ping pong
I don’t like the Viet Cong
I don’t like Burger King
I don’t like anything
And I’m against it
I’m against it
Well I’m against it
I’m against it
Well I’m against it
I’m against it

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-15 14:28:01 +0000

Oh but I do like the Ramones… first three albums are great, fourth is pretty good… then they go off the boil and it is odd tracks after that rather than pretty much everything they did up to the Phil Spector producing “End of the Century” (a good producer of pop songs in the sixties but his Ramones album doesn’t work, and I’m also very down on him for murdering Amazonian actress Lana Clarkson… “Barbarian Queen” is just a great B-movie). Of the odd later tracks I like, “Bonzo Goes To Blitzberg” numbers among them…..
Psycedelic Speed, I bet I drink at least as much coffee as you… And Mark, like you say, it is a critique of the exhibition not Warhol… I saw the first big posthumous exhibition at MOMA in New York back in 1989 and that was great!

Comment by Michael K on 2009-01-15 16:12:14 +0000

I bet I drink more coffee that both of you put together and subtracted from infinity but that’s not important right now. The point I was here to make is that I havent been to The Scala because I didnt grow up in London in the 40’s or whenever it was, and thirdly that I am far too accelerated to get in the door of any art exhibitions. This could be resolved by increasing the response time on the automatic door-openers or by rotating the turnstile at 45rpm instead of 33rpm. And secondly although under the influence of caffeine, I am in no way responsible for believing either my own press (scant but influential) or for the voices in my head which have been planted there by paranoid schizophrenics. Guatemalan coffee is the best for this.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-15 16:15:26 +0000

Wow that proves we’re the same person because I’ve been drinking Guatemalan coffee too!!!!!

Comment by Michael K on 2009-01-15 16:25:05 +0000

It’s just as I…I mean…you suspected. And Deleuze and Guattari have this to say on the subject:
“Becoming is certainly not imitating, or identifying with something; neither is it regressing-progressing; neither is it corresponding, establishing corresponding relations; neither is it producing, producing a filiation or producing through filiation.”

Comment by Dave Mitchell on 2009-01-15 23:17:19 +0000

The first Ramones album is good, but then a lot of people’s first albums were good – I even like the first Led Zep album.
I just dunno about Warhol – I feel as if I SHOULD like him – for all the obvious reasons, but I’ve never been able to wathc any of his films or read any of his books and I find his ‘pictures’ as bland and unengaging as any other ‘Athena’ poster you’d find on a student bedsit wall back in 74.
And he didnt really produce the first VUalbum at all – wasnt even near the studio. He ‘producedit’ in a Warholian manner – by getting someone else to do it for him. But doesnt that tie into the whole Luther Blissett, Trippy, Michael K mysique?
Anyway – does this mean Kate has really fucked off?
Shame – I would have liked a pop at the silly vacuous blipvert.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-15 23:58:27 +0000

Oh I like those Warhol movies… they’re funny too… and let’s just hope Kate isn’t becoming reanimated….. Zombie Times columnists might prove a right pain in the butt….

Comment by Michael K on 2009-01-16 16:31:25 +0000

oh…if the only evidence for life on earth is blog-postings and Sploshbook status-updates (and it is), then we’re all undead already. I can trace my own death back to 1987 although earth-time is a meaningless concept viewed from an orbiting space-shuttle around Jupiter anyway…
Thirdly, Andy Warhol didnt have sex that fact some say he died a virgin which means that his ‘first time’ was delayed to the point of unreturn…
Similarly, because first albums are often the best albums, I’ve been deliberately permanently delaying finishing my first album which now has 237 tracks on it. Now in the times of vinyl and saturday afternoons at The Scala, this would have made issuing of my first album unfeasible for a record company, being as it would have been a multidecahedral concept album costing more than thirty bob in the shops but thanks to advances in technology, it could now be released on a bent nine bob coin using flash memory. And who can say that ‘Kate Muir, Zombie Columnist’ wouldnt get the green light in a Zollywood producer’s office. We can only try try try!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-17 01:25:12 +0000

And don’t forget the follow up: “Kate Muir, Zombie Columnist II”, and then there are the spin-offs like “Kate Muir, Zombie Moll”…..

Comment by Michael K on 2009-01-17 20:12:11 +0000

I have no idea

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-18 03:49:54 +0000

Is that the return of Zen, a manifestation of swamp fever or something else entirely????

Comment by Paul McCartney on 2009-01-19 02:10:30 +0000

I saw an experiment many years ago on television where they had a little man-made robot arm, like those things on the fairgrounds, where the hand reaches in to a bunch of candies, picks them up, and then moves it over, and always manages to drop it before it gets to you. You know those things. And then it drops it, and then it reaches over again, picks up another one, and this was a machine that was on an assembly line that was doing this. And they said, “This is really clever, because we’ve managed to simulate the human hand, and it can pick it up and take it over there and drop it.” But one thing that struck me was, when all the candies had gone, the hand didn’t know. [Laughs] The hand kept going, picking up some air, and dropping it. And came back for some more air. Now we would know that. This dumb hand didn’t. And more than that, my fingers, the sensors on the ends of my fingers, the thousands of little sensors, would be able to differentiate between a leaf and a tabletop, or a shirt, or a t-shirt and a pullover. That’s how sophisticated we are. And we take it for granted! We go, “Yeah, well, it’s the end of my fingers!”

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-19 10:32:00 +0000

Hans Bellmer never had days like these…..

Published At