Twenty Years

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From the series Rimbaud in New York, David Wojnarowicz, 1978-79

 

III

Les voix instructives exilées… L’ingénuité physique amèrement rassise… – Adagio – Ah ! l’égoïsme infini de l’adolescence, l’optimisme studieux : que le monde était plein de fleurs cet été ! Les airs et les formes mourant… – Un choeur, pour calmer l’impuissance et l’absence ! Un choeur de verres de mélodies nocturnes… En effet les nerfs vont vite chasser.

IV

Tu en es encore à la tentation d’Antoine. L’ébat du zèle écourté, les tics d’orgueil puéril, l’affaissement et l’effroi.
Mais tu te mettras au travail : toutes les possibilités harmoniques et architecturales s’émouvront autour de ton siège. Des êtres parfaits, imprévus, s’offriront à tes expériences. Dans tes environs affluera rêveusement la curiosité d’anciennes foules et de luxes oisifs. Ta mémoire et tes sens ne seront que la nourriture de ton impulsion créatrice. Quant au monde, quand tu sortiras, que sera-t-il devenu ? En tout cas, rien des apparences actuelles.

Arthur Rimbaud

Illuminations XLI: Jeunesse (Excerpt)

 

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III

 The instructive voices exiled…physical ingenuousness bitterly stale…Adagio. Ah, the infinite egoism of adolescence, the studious optimism: how full the world was of flowers, that summer! The airs and the forms dying…A choir, to calm impotence and absence! A choir of glass with nocturnal melodies…Indeed the nerves will soon be on the hunt.

IV

You are still at the temptation of Anthony. The antics of curtailed zeal, the tics of puerile pride, weakening, and terror.
But you will set yourself to this work: all the harmonic and architectural possibilities will stir round your perch. Perfect unforeseen beings will offer themselves to your experiments. Around you will gather dreamily the curiosity of ancient multitudes and idle wealth. Your memory and your senses will be simply the fodder for your creative impulse. As for the world, when you emerge, what will have become of it? Nothing, in any case, of its present seeming.

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The Stolen Heart

From the series Arthur Rimbaud in New York, David Wojnarowicz, 1978-79

 

LE CŒR VOLÉ

Mon triste cœur bave à la poupe,
Mon cœur couvert de caporal :
Ils y lancent des jets de soupe
Mon triste coeur bave à la poupe :
Sous les quolibets de la troupe
Qui pousse un rire général,
Mon triste coeur bave à la poupe,
Mon coeur couvert de caporal.

Ithyphalliques et pioupiesques
Leurs quolibets l’ont dépravé.
Au gouvernail, on voit des fresques
Ithyphalliques et pioupiesques.
O flots abracadabrantesques
Prenez mon cœur, qu’il soit lavé.
Ithyphalliques et pioupiesques
Leurs quolibets l’ont dépravé !

Quand ils auront tari leurs chiques
Comment agir, ô cœur volé ?
Ce seront des hoquets bachiques
Quand ils auront tari leurs chiques
J’aurai des sursauts stomachiques
Moi, si mon coeur est ravalé:
Quand ils auront tari leurs chiques,
Comment agir, ô cœur volé ?

Arthur Rimbaud

Mai 1871.

 

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My sad heart leaks at the poop,

My heart covered in filthy shag:

They squirt it with jets of soup,

My sad heart leaks at the poop:

Under the jibes of that rough troop

Drowned in laughter, see them rag,

My sad heart leaks at the poop,

My heart covered in filthy shag!

Ithyphallic and coarse, their jests

They’ve corrupted it every way!

On the wheelhouse their grotesques,

Ithyphallic and coarse their jests.

O waves, abracadabrantesque,

Take my heart, wash all away!

Ithyphallic and coarse their jests,

They’ve corrupted it every way!

When they’ve finished chewing their plugs,

What shall we do O stolen heart?

Then Bacchic hiccups from ugly mugs:

When they’ve finished chewing their plugs:

My guts will heave, the filthy lugs,

If it’s swallowed outright, my heart:

When they’ve finished chewing their plugs

What shall we do O stolen heart?

English translation by A. S. Kline

 

In Roberto Bolaño‘s The Savage Detectives the character Ulises Lima claims that this Rimbaud poem is about how Rimbaud was raped.

Rimbaud in New York

“Je est un autre.”
(“I is another.”)
Arthur Rimbaud

 
 

Rimbaud in New York, David Wojnarowicz, 1977-79

 
 

Using a stolen 35mm camera, David Wojnarowicz photographed anonymous figures posing in a mask of the 19th-century poet Arthur Rimbaud. According to Wojnarowicz, he was “playing with ideas of compression of ‘historical time and activity’ and fusing the French poet’s identity with modern New York urban activities, mostly illegal in nature.” From Times Square to the abandoned Hudson River piers, the Rimbaud figure’s wanderings mirrored Wojnarowicz’s own transient life in the city. Published in the Soho Weekly News in June 1980, this series marks Wojnarowicz’s first serious effort in photography and his first publicly exhibited artwork.

The series Rimbaud in New York, his first serious body of work, comprises twenty-four black-and-white photographs of friends holding up a mask of the poet Arthur Rimbaud in a variety of underground settings in New York City.

The similarities between Rimbaud’s life and Wojnarowicz’s are striking: They lived exactly a century apart and both died in their late 30s; each came from a broken home with abusive parents; both fled to the big city–Rimbaud to Paris, Wojnarowicz to New York; both were gay, and each found a surrogate father in the form of an older lover–Paul Verlaine for Rimbaud, Peter Hujar for Wojnarowicz.

Pretentiousness Stripped Away

Self-Portrait

 
 

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, born in Florida on 1952,  is an American documentary filmmaker and portrait photographer, son of Miami musician and teacher Dr. Ruth W. Greenfield. The majority of his work is shot in large format.

Simple yet revealing, his portraits are direct and get right to the heart of the subject. Timothy Greenfield-Sanders prefers to strip away pretentiousness when portraying political figures, entertainers, artists, musicians and other intriguing personalities. His backdrops never distract from the subject, and he often uses a single light source to mimic natural light. His work has elevated him to one of the most acclaimed portrait photographers of our time.

He started out with an interest in filmmaking, and majored in art history at New York’s Columbia University. He later moved to Los Angeles, to study at the American Film Institute. Renowned actors and directors, such as Ingmar Bergman, Orson Welles, and Alfred Hitchcock (“the masters of the cinema”) often made appearances at the school to talk about their work. To document these occasions, AFI sought a volunteer to shoot these visiting celebrities’ portraits. On a whim, Greenfield-Sanders took the challenge and became the school’s photographer.

With these luminaries available to him, Greenfield-Sanders snapped away, and learned much in the process. “Because of AFI, I got tips from celebrities as well as access to them,” he says. Hitchcock once remarked, “Young man, your lights are all wrong,” while Bette Davis criticized him harshly for “shooting from below.” (“She had some great swear words,” he laughs.)

His father-in-law is Joop Sanders, a founder of the abstract expressionist movement in New York, who introduced Greenfield-Sanders to a number of artists. Thus, painters like Willem de Kooning, Larry Rivers and Robert Rauschenberg posed for his camera. Over a 20-year span, he photographed hundreds of artists, dealers, collectors and critics. In 1999, 700 of these images were displayed at the Mary Boone Gallery in New York, and he published an accompanying book, entitled Art World. In the beginning, Greenfield-Sanders’ editorial photos that he shot for clients like Barron’s and SoHo News helped to pay for this project.

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ portraits are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The New York Public Library, The Whitney Museum and The National Portrait Gallery among others. In 2004, seven hundred of his art world portraits were accepted into the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

A number of books on Greenfield-Sanders’ work have been published: Art World (Fotofolio), Timothy Greenfield-Sanders his first monograph, (Alberico Cetti Serbelloni Editori), XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits (Bulfinch Press) “Face to Face” (Skira), Look: Portraits Backstage at Olympus Fashion Week (Powerhouse) The Black List (Atria of Simon and Schuster) The Latino List (Luxury) and The Black List 50 (Luxury).

Greenfield-Sanders produced and directed nine films. His first, Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart, was a feature documentary about the legendary rock musician. The film aired in April 1998 on the PBS Series American Masters and premiered in the United States at Sundance Film Festival and in Europe at The Berlin Film Festival. It screened at over 50 film festivals worldwide. Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart won a 1999 Grammy Award for best music documentary.

In addition to this once-in-a-lifetime experience, he took the opportunity to build an impressive portfolio of many of the biggest names in Hollywood. His access to these stars bolstered his reputation as a celebrity shooter and he soon got work taking portraits for Interview and People magazines. “I began loving portrait photography more than making films,” he comments. He is also a contributing photographer at Vanity Fair magazine.

Thinking XXX, a film about the making of the XXX book, first aired in October 2004 on HBO. A soundtrack CD was released in November 2004 by Ryko Records. In addition, in October 2004, the XXX portraits were exhibited in New York at the Mary Boone Gallery and subsequently at numerous galleries worldwide including John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco, Bernd Kluser Gallery in Munich, Berman/Turner Projects in Los Angeles, Paolo Curti Gallery in Milan and Howard Russeck Gallery in Palm Beach.

In 2006, Greenfield-Sanders photographed injured soldiers and marines for HBO’s film, Alive Day Memories. The images were widely published, shown in numerous exhibitions and purchased by The Library of Congress.

Between 2008-2010, Greenfield-Sanders produced and directed The Black List Project: a series of 3 documentaries for HBO, a traveling museum exhibition of portraits organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, a book with Simon and Schuster’s Atria and DVDs with Target. In addition, the project included an educational initiative in conjunction with The United Negro College Fund.

 
 

Alfred Hitchcock

 
 

Orson Welles

 
 

John Waters

 
 

Ethan Hawke

 
 

Toni Morrison

 
 

Robert De Niro Sr.

 
 

Elaine De Kooning

 
 

Louise Bourgeois

 
 

David Wojnarowicz

 
 

Francesco Clemente

 
 

Keith Haring

 
 

Dennis Hopper

 
 

Slash

 
 

Lou Reed

 
 

Mark Strand

 
 

Norman Mailer

 
 

William S. Burroughs

 
 

David Bowie