Monday, April 09, 2007

The Amoeba

I don't follow popular culture; in fact I don't follow alternative culture either. So imagine my surpise when the two times I go down to San Francisco I find that the things that I've found on my own, music and movies, are not only present at stores like Amoeba but are featured. First time this happened I found the band "The Silver Apples", about a year ago. Then, went down to Berkeley and saw a college kid walking around with a "Silver Apples" shirt on. This time the thing is movies. I found, completely from reading and from reading things on the net, a bunch of them so obscure I didn't even think many people were aware of them. We're not talking things like Fellini films, which, comparatively, everyone knows, but things that were either out of print for a long, long, time or are just so weird that I thought to myself that no one could be interested in these things. Alejandro Jodoworsky, his pal Arrabal, the movie "Performance" with Mick Jagger, Warhol's films. Strange.

They must have found out about these things from somewhere; there has to be either a film watching community where this stuff is known about or some magazine out there that covers these things. Either way, I'd like to know about it since it sort of sucks to just be aware of these things alone. That goes for a lot of stuff, from books about history and politics to weird literature.

But, there's one thing that they don't have at Amoeba that I have, and that's the films of the Vienna Actionists, or Wiener Aktionismus, a performance art group centered in, well, Vienna, that did very disturbing and creative things. It came on a DVD-R from a film company in Atlanta called "Five miutes to live". The Vienna Aktionists, well, in one film they tie a bunch of copper wire around a guy's face, then pour blood, eggs, and flour on him. Another one features one of the performers very calmly incising his stomach with a razor to, in the end, form a message. Other ones include a person who stuffs himself, vomits, eats his vomit, stuffs himself, vomits, then eats the vomit again.

Some of them involve a combination of piss, cum, nudity, sex, shit, and blood.

Then there's the top of it. The acts that they're most famous for I literally cannot watch. But I have films of them, and have watched them. I'm talking about "Oh, sensibility", which was famous for the performance being banned in the United States due to protests by prominent writers.

That and, what's it called, something about Christmas, are the two performance pieces that involve animal sacrifice. I can't watch that.

In "Oh, Sensibility" a naked man and a naked woman, with the woman lying down, play with a goose in a sexual way, then the man cuts the goose's head off and shoves the neck into the woman's vagina, while it's still bleading.

Sounds interesting, right?

Well, in theory it sounds interesting but in practice it's well nigh unwatchable. Even now, remembering it, I'm getting a visceral response, like I'm going to be sick.

I guess that was the point....to challenge people's safety zones and break down established biases and ideas of appropriate and inappropriate in order to get to a place that's freer or more liberated.

Interestingly enough, novelist Michel Houllebecq, mentions the Vienna Aktionists in "The elementary particles", and in his fiction credits them for the introduction of radical evil into contemporary European society, leading to a spree of serial killings and ritual human sacrifices by a European rock musician, who is later captured in America.

This is basically why I'm surprised that other people know about the films I know about. I consider my tastes to be pretty twisted, unhealthy, and degenerate, and admit to this freely. I don't get a sexual thrill out of the Aktionists, by the way...just to be clear...I watch them because I like performance art. If I wanted those types of films I could get it much easier than by ordering them from "Five minutes to live". Yes, most people don't react well to my interests in films, which is why it's surprising that Amoeba not only has them but puts them in prominent places as the hip films of the month.

I don't know what to think about this.

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

I saw the Warhol movies.

Sounds great.