Page 1

culture

music

art

fashion

Avant~ Garde the

issue

SPRING 2012


_1


#1

SODA contents

SPRING 2012

Rick Genest p.3: The Canadian artist and fashion model famous for his corpse-like full-bodied tattoos will challenge your sensibilities about what you believe to be beautiful.

Leigh Bowery p.13: Fashion celebrity, style icon and pioneer of the avant-garde. Sue Tilley remembers a flamboyant friend.

Karlheinz Stockhausen p.19: The great German composer who envisioned music as a force of cosmic revolution.

Peter Greenaway p.23: British mulit-media artist Peter Greenaway has shocked and intrigued audiences with his avant-garde approach to film making and other artistic ventures.

_2


RICO Rick Genest. A.K.A.

_3

the


ZOMBIE SODA

We are in a huge fabric hall. An exposed and obviously uncommon character sits there on a couch. German photographer Nadine Elfenbein will soon continue taking pictures of him. He smokes his cigarette while making little tricks with it. Short inflammations illuminate his face releasing skull fragments. It’s a Day of the Dead scenery. We are here with Rick Genest aka Rico the Zombie. Thanks to Nicola Formichetti, Lady Gaga’s famous stylist and creative director of fashion label Thierry Mugler, Rick has become an avant-garde fashion icon and is currently taking of over the scene. Covered with permanent ink in the shape of a living dead he surely is an exceptional appearance in the bright spotlight of the fashion cosmos. But, Rick’s way into this business was not the usual one. As a teenager Rick got diagnosed with a brain tumor. He got treatment and spent a long time waiting, not knowing what would happen. During this time Rick thought a lot about life, death and about himself as an individual person. At the age of 19 Rick started his full-body tattoo project and his own travelling freak show titled Lucifer’s Blasphemous Mad Macabre Torture Carnival. 
As Rick explained us, his focus now is to embrace life and to live day by day. Walking the catwalk or doing his freak shows are just two ways of living his live but not the only ones. Whatever stage it is, Rick will keep going. “I will always be who I am and do what I do”.

_4


_5


SODA

_6


_7

Z

ombie


BOY Twenty-Six year old Rick Genest will challenge your sensibilities about what you believe to be beautiful. At his core he is a chiaroscuro of both light and dark—part gentle warrior, part antiestablishment artful dodger, and he has serendipitously become the ‘it’ muse for anyone who believes in a brave new world without judgment. His tattoos have equally intrigued and inspired a cult following— more than 60,000 followers on Twitter and Facebook. He has sparked a revolution with fans who see beyond the visceral and want to know everything they can about the mysterious performer, model and muse known as ‘Zombie Boy.’

SODA

_8


Early Beginnings. Genest grew up in a working class family in Chateguay Quebec, and is the oldest of two siblings. He got his first tattoo (a skull and crossbones) at age 16 on his left shoulder, sparking a fascination deep within him for the art form. After graduating high school, Genest left home at 17 and immersed himself in the underground punk rock scene in Montreal, and was initiated into the street culture of tattoos, piercings, music and DIY fashion. He survived by becoming a “squeegee kid” and living in abandoned buildings with his new family of friends who gave him the moniker ‘Zombie Boy.’ By 19 he was committed to his full body tattoo project and stayed loyal to Montreal artist Frank Lewis, who designed the majority of his body over the next six years. Eighty percent of his body is covered, including intricate designs of an entire skeleton (skull included) and is thematically, the depiction of a body decomposing—complete with flesh eating insects. To date Genest has spent over $17,000.00 on tattooing his body and will continue until his tapestry is finished. Circus Freaks and Geeks. Genest joined sideshows with contemporary carnivals learning geek work, clowning, fire play, lying on a bed of nails and flesh pull techniques. He eventually amassed a group of performers together to create his own travelling freak show titled Lucifer’s Blasphemous Mad Macabre Torture Carnival which he also directs. Lucifer’s Blasphemous was inspired by the resurgence of sideshows (think Jim Rose Circus) and body modification artists like Lizardman and The Enigma. “Lucifer is our boa [constrictor] and we are the droids of death,” says Genest, explaining the idea behind the troupe. The performers also include the sexy mistresses Sedusa, as well as Dr. Kuttz the psychotic auto mutilator, and a bevy of other Coney Island circus inspired characters. “So you’ve got some action, some gore, some burlesque-sexuality, and of course the comedy! It’s a Three Stooges freak shows, unlike you’ve ever seen,” says Genest who performs in English and French, and clearly plays the ‘Zombie’ character. The House of Formichetti. His international thrust into the spotlight is a true rags to riches story. Nicola Formichetti, Lady Gaga’s personal stylist and the creative director of the legendary Paris based fashion house Theirry Mugler, was careering the web when he came across a photo of Genest that appeared in the magazine Dressed to Kill. Formichetti was instantly fascinated and contacted Genest through his Facebook account. In early January 2011, Formichetti flew to

_9

Montreal to meet Genest to complete an extensive photo and video shoot for Thierry Mugler’s fall 2011 campaign. The two clicked instantly and Formichetti invited Genest to Paris to model in the Mugler men’s fashion show. It was the first time Rick had ever travelled outside Canada, and incidentally his first time on a plane. Acting as his mentor of sorts, Formichetti then cast Genest in his biggest role to date; a pronounced cameo in Lady Gaga’s video ‘Born This Way’ filmed in New York City. It complimented the fastest single in music history to reach sales of 1,000,000 copies, days after its release. In the video Gaga is in full ‘Zombie Boy’ makeup, as they play a rather provocative mother/son scenario, with Genest literally being birthed by the loins of Gaga herself. Of the experience Genest says, “Gaga was very approachable and has a great sense of humour with an unwavering work ethic. It was easy working with her and she knows how to put everyone at ease. She is a highly-skilled, intelligent and dedicated performer.” In March 2011, Genest returned to Paris where he appeared along with Lady Gaga in the Mugler Women’s fashion show. He was subsequently introduced to famed photographer Steven Klein who shot him for 2011 Spring Edition of Arena Hommes Plus. His relationship with Formichetti has clearly been a boon for his career, and has since seen him pose for such magazines as GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue Hommes Japan, as well as a collaboration with the juggernaut of the fashion photography world – the renowned — L’Enfant terrible Terry Richardson. He recently returned to LA to participate with Richardson and Gaga in the promotion of Lady Gaga’s 2012/2013 Born This Way Tour. In September 2011 Genest’s character was the face of Formichetti’s latest creation, an industry first - Digital rendition for the online fashion world launched at his $250,000 Pop-Up Store -- the centre piece of New York’s Fashion Week. Rick Genest the Brand. Not one to rest on the laurels of his Gaga connections and fortitude, Genest has continued to build his emerging brand with new management behind him. In the Spring 2011 he was awarded the Guinness World Book of Records for the most insects tattooed on a human body (178) as well as the most bones inked on a human body (138), and he then returned to his local Tattoo artist Lewis to additions to his live walking art project.


SODA

“Gaga was very approachable and has a great sense of humour with an unwavering work ethic. It was easy working with her and she knows how to put everyone at ease. She is a highly skilled, intelligent and dedicated performer.�

_10


_11


SODA

Additionally, Genest filmed a cameo role in the upcoming Keanu Reeves film 47 Ronin directed by Carl Reinch. In the summer of 2011, he appeared in the opening gala of the Montreal International Comedy Festival for the Francophone comic Jean Francois Mercier. In October 2011, Genest became the pitchman for “Dermablend” by L’Oreal, an industry acclaimed cosmetic concealer, in one of the most successful online advertising campaigns in the industry in 2011. The promotion video is industry acclaimed attracting more than 15M views on YouTube. His passion for Circus Side Shows cannot be over stated. He continues to collaborate with a bevy of well-known performers in the industry to light up local and international stages with unique acts. As an avid fan of Tim Burton’s work, Genest is currently establishing himself further in the world of performance. He is actively pursuing work in acting, animation, developing a clothing line, product

endorsements as well as media editorials. He also currently headlines internationally at tattoo conventions and guest appears at Clubs. Despite his recent ascent onto the world stage, Genest believes in maintaining humbleness, thrift, simplicity and authenticity. Not unlike actor James Franco, it’s very apparent that Genest cannot be swayed or coerced into anything that doesn’t speak to him. He isn’t impressed by the fame machine and has a ‘IV drip of cool factor’ that lends to an almost aloof sense of composure. He has very little desire for material wealth and maintains that his biggest extravagance would be to build a place on a nice spot of land so that he can give his friends from the punk rock community of Montreal “a place to live.” He believes in maintaining his strong relationships and hopes that one day he will be able to give back to charities and to friends back home all that they have given him.

_12


A

life

less ordinary

The performance artist and designer Leigh Bowery is being celebrated at the ICA. In an extract from her book, Sue Tilley remembers a flamboyant friend...

_13


SODA On Saturday, Leigh Bowery would be celebrating his 50th birthday if he were still alive. It sounds so old, but I’m almost 54 and I don’t feel old; in fact, I don’t feel much different than I did 17 years ago when Leigh died, aged 33. Maybe the bones are beginning to ache a bit and my glasses are glued to my face, but inside I’m still a daft young girl. It made me wonder what Leigh would be doing now. If he had managed to live another few months, he probably would still be alive today, as the drugs that have saved so many people were introduced just after his death. In the Eighties and early Nineties I often went to the funerals of friends who had died of Aids, but I haven’t been to any since Leigh’s memorial in January 1995.

“I don’t want to be remembered as a person with Aids, I want to be remembered as a person with ideas.”

Many of Leigh’s contemporaries have become very successful in their chosen fields, and I like to think that Leigh would have joined them, maybe as an actor or a musician or, if all else failed, a regular on reality television. He would have been fantastic, quick-witted, fearless and determined to win at any task, yet hilarious in defeat. Or maybe he would finally have become the designer that he originally set out to be, following in the footsteps of John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, but I don’t think that he could have borne the terrible stress of that life... He wanted time to have fun.

Leigh still affects my life every day and has opened the door to so many experiences for me. I still work in the Jobcentre, but my time is peppered with events that come about because of Leigh. In the past couple of weeks I’ve been asked to the very contrasting towns of LA and Hull to give talks on Leigh; I’ve had a photo of me wearing a Leigh dress auctioned for Macmillan Cancer Support; I’ve written a short piece on Leigh’s family for an art magazine; and I have been asked to donate a bra to an exhibition at the Littledean Jail and Museum of Crime in the Forest of Dean. I like the way that my life is a mix of the regular and the bizarre. The most fantastic thing that happened to me was that my painting by Lucian Freud, Benefit Supervisor Resting, became the most expensive painting by a living artist sold at auction in May 2008. I would never have met Lucian if it hadn’t been for Leigh, but I couldn’t help laughing as I thought how jealous Leigh would have been that it wasn’t a painting of him. He would have dashed round to my flat and told me what to wear and say for all my interviews and I, as usual, would have ignored him. It was a very strange month and I was on most news programmes in the country, even making the front pages of the papers when I asked Katie Derham of ITV News not to call me “Fat Sue”, as it wasn’t my name. That in turn became a running joke on The Chris Moyles Show as he sampled me with the song “That’s Not My Name” by The Ting Tings. There have been many exhibitions of Lucian’s work since Leigh died, and the paintings of Leigh are always the stars of the show.

_14


“I think that the clothes I am interested in are strictly the opposite to what’s in mass taste, and that there is a minority that like the same style as me.�

_15


SODA One of the most exciting things to happen regarding Leigh was Boy George’s brilliant musical Taboo, which premiered in London’s West End in 2002. It ran for more than a year and comedian/talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell was so enamoured with it that she decided to finance a Broadway production, which opened on 13 November 2003 at the Plymouth Theatre. I can imagine how proud Leigh would have been and although many great people played him, such as Matt Lucas, Julian Clary and Mark Little, they wouldn’t have stood a chance if Leigh had been alive. He would have been on that stage every night, showing off as much as possible. I was thrilled when I found out that I was a character in the musical, too. The first time that I saw it was at a run through and I burst into tears when I saw myself singing a song to Leigh as he lay dying in hospital. The day that Taboo opened on Broadway was one of the most exciting of my life. The production had paid for several of the real characters to fly to New York and had put us up in the Paramount Hotel just across the street from the theatre. My dates for the night, New York club legend Erich Conrad, and my Australian friend from England, Rod Lay, raided the minibar, swigging all the vodka miniatures, while I threw on my frock (a Leigh creation); then we raced to the theatre clutching hands and singing “Sue’s on Broadway, Sue’s on Broadway”, until I almost got arrested by a very butch New York policewoman for jaywalking. It is hard to believe that when Leigh died he didn’t have a mobile phone, a computer, internet, or the most amazing communication tool of all: Facebook. If he did, I certainly wouldn’t have had to trek to his flat just to tell him that someone wanted to take his photo. He played enough havoc with just a landline so I often think about what mischief he could have wrought if he had access to all the ways we have of connecting now. The most surprising friend I met through Facebook was Mark Feehily from Westlife. He has several of the large Fergus Greer portraits of Leigh hung around his apartment. I’m a bit disappointed that I haven’t seen Westlife in blue faces, but I’m still hoping that it may happen. He says, “To me, Leigh was and is an inspirational creative hero. His creations at times had the same effect that Jackson’s moonwalk might have on first look. Incredible and mind-blowing. I love delving into his work and thinking ‘How did he do that?’ or just ‘Wow’. He expressed himself through fashion and performance in the most extreme way, without fear.”

_16


L eigh was always desperate to be a pop star, but it sadly never happened. Now, however, a huge star has just come onto the scene who admits that she is influenced by the genius of Leigh.Leigh would have loved Lady Gaga and would have so wished that he had invented the meat dress.

People often ask me if there is going to be a feature film about Leigh, and hopefully there will be. It has been on the cards for 13 years now, ever since I gave one of the first copies of my book to Hart Sharp Entertainment. The book has passed through the hands of many writers and directors, and although some of them have turned into good friends, nothing has been quite right yet. At the moment, Matt Lucas has the rights, along with the original purchaser, Jeff Sharp, so fingers crossed that something may happen soon before I am too old to enjoy the premiere.

Although Leigh died when he was 33, he is still alive in the eyes of many. If you Google him (how much would he have loved to do that?), there are new entries every day in which his influence is honoured and his memory revered. Although he is no longer with us, Leigh is having a 50th birthday party at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts on 1 April. This is a strange twist of karma as Leigh was banned for life from this very august establishment after a rather outrageous incident at i-D magazine’s anniversary party in the mid-Eighties. It will be a mix of tributes from old friends and from the new faces on the scene who were still at infant school when he died, but for whom his life has been an inspiration. Almost 17 years have passed since Leigh died but in some ways it seems like yesterday. He is still out there influencing people, encouraging them to follow their dreams, however outlandish they may be. I remember him for all his talent and creativity, but mainly for being the best friend that anyone could have.

HAPPY

_17

BIRTHDAY

LEIGH


SODA

“I BELIEVE THAT FASHION (WHERE ALL THE GIRLS HAVE CLEAR SKIN, BLUE EYES, BLOND BLOW WAVED HAIR AND A SIZE ZERO FIGURE AND WHERE ALL THE MEN HAVE CLEAR SKIN, MOUSTACHES, SHORT BLOW WAVED HAIR AND MASCULINE PHYSIQUE AND APPEARANCE) STINKS. I THINK THAT FIRSTLY INDIVIDUALITY IS IMPORTANT, AND THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO MAIN RULES FOR BEHAVIOR AND APPEARANCE. THEREFORE I WANT TO LOOK AS BEST AS I CAN, THROUGH MY MEANS OF INDIVIDUALITY AND EXPRESSIVENESS.”

_18


Little

Wooden H

Other children had teddy bears and dolls; but Karlheinz Stockhausen had a little wooden hammer. As he toddled round the run-down family farm in the hills near Cologne, he would hit things with it to see what sound they made. Each note, he established young, sent him a different message. No plink or plunk was quite the same as any other.

the top of the bottle, and in which the most beautiful harmonics would be interrupted by this: Pee peri pee pee: right over my tree, Let it gently run down, God is that warm. Small wonder that Sir Thomas Beecham, asked if he had conducted any Stockhausen, said no, but he thought he might once have trodden in some.

Most folk at his premières in the 1950s and 1960s might have wished he had never discovered that. Each Stockhausen piece was a shock to the system. It was not just that he had decided tonality was dead; Schoenberg's 12-note serialism had already made dissonance routine. It was not just that he thought “intensive measuring and counting” the key to music's future; Stravinsky had got there long before him. It was that Stockhausen kept on looking for, and finding, sounds never heard before. He made a formula out of the individuality of notes—their particular pitch, timbre and duration, and whether they were soft as a leaf or knocked your hat off—and revelled in it in the most alarming way.

Stockhausen's great passion was electronic music, which in the 1950s seemed suddenly to give a pure, bright sound, like “raindrops in the sun”, to all the processes of the universe. He was studying then in Paris with Messiaen and Milhaud, but preferred to hole up in studios playing with tapes and sine waves. The result of his labours might be mere background noise, but he liked even that, especially if it could be run through big loudspeakers to a baffled audience. He was delighted to find that metallic sounds could become human voices, and that human voices could be made to quack like a duck. He could conceive and make the cosmos over again.

“Mikrophonie I” (1964), for example, was inspired by hitting the tam-tam that hung in his garden with spoons, tumblers and an egg-timer. “Kurzwellen” (1968) was based on the “foreign sounds” of short-wave radio. His most famous piece, and possibly his most popular— though he was never popular—was “Stimmung”, or “Tuning” (1968), a sextet for unaccompanied voices on a six-note chord of B-flat that sounded sometimes like a digeridoo and sometimes like blowing across

_19

Electronics also made him funky. In the late 1960s he found jazzmen and rock bands—Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, the Grateful Dead—quoting him and even sitting at his feet when he lectured at the University of California. He appeared on the cover of the Beatles' “Sergeant Pepper”. And there was probably no one else who could make electronic sounds so lusciously melodic (as in “Kontakte”, of 1959-60), by sheer contrast with all the rattling and plicking that had gone on before.


n Hammer

SODA

AVANT-GARDE COMPOSER KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN

_20


“WHENEVER I FELT WITH THE PUBLIC,

STRING QUARTET FOR HELICOPTERS Stockhausen's music was constructed on mathematical principles; but, as the years passed, he liked to throw in more elements of motion, freedom and chance. You could play his “Zyklus”, for percussion, upside down or back to front or in any order you liked. In “Gruppen” (1955-57) he used three orchestras, playing different notes at different tempi from different directions. But even this was not enough for the man who often dreamed he was a bird flying; and in his last, huge opera project, “Licht” (Light), he included a string quartet in which the players were in four separate helicopters whirling above the concert hall. Was this music at all? He thought it was. He whistled his own melodies, he said, as readily as he had once whistled Mozart's. And he was looking for “a new beauty” all the time. There was a deep, obsessive

_21

seriousness in him, underlined by a disarming stare, which, he hoped, would “yet reduce even the howling wolves to silence”. Sheer egot r i p p i n g , countered his detractors. “Licht”, which proposed an opera for every day of the week, needed five orchestras, nine choirs and seven concert halls. Other pieces required purple lighting or Star Trek costumes. And he was ruthlessly protective of the brand, using his own paramours and children to play his compositions, acting as his own soundman and marketing his recordings only through Stockhausen Verlag, at sky-high prices. But he had reason, in his view, to be weird and exclusive. He was special. Just how special was not readily apparent to those who saw him, in his old Beethoven frock-coat or his shapeless orange cardigan. After the 1970s, Stockhausen seemed to disappear up his own cul-de-sac of

experimen

mission. H had been b and was on music to h to the cel that contac to be per By makin preparing of life.

Yet again, t get the me his small b was blissfu


SODA

LT HAPPY ABOUT HAVING DISCOVERED SOMETHING, THE FIRST ENCOUNTER, NOT ONLY , WITH OTHER MUSICIANS, WITH SPECIALISTS, ETC, WAS THAT THEY REJECTED IT.”

ntal noise. But this was his

He often dreamt that he born and trained on Sirius, n Earth “to bring celestial humans, and human music lestial beings”. To ensure ct, some of his pieces had rformed under the stars. ng new sounds, he was the way for a higher kind

the general public did not essage. But when he died, band of devoted followers ully sure that he had.

_22


Peter Greenaway’s

PACT

Peter Greenaway makes one thing very clear to Catherine Shoard: there is nothing more to life but sex and death.

“I don’t know much about you,” says Peter Greenaway, sipping his mint tea, “but I do know two things. You were conceived, two people did fuck, and I’m very sorry but you’re going to die. Everything else about you is negotiable.” Negligible, too. For Greenaway, there’s sex and there’s death and “what else is there to talk about?” He believes, he continues,

_23

WITH

DEATH as relaxed as if predicting rain tomorrow, “that all religion is about death and art’s about life. Religion is there to say: hey, you don’t have to worry – there’s an afterlife. Culture represents the opposite of that – sex. A very stupid Freudian way of looking at it, but one is positive and one is negative. Especially against people like you. All religions have always hated females.”


Steam billows up from the cup into his face. He looks half David Attenborough, breath fogging the lens as he explores the Arctic (he has the same energy, the same gleaming curiosity), half Chris Tarrant, emerging from a cloud of dry ice. We’re in a cafe on a grand, damp square in Amsterdam; Lady in Red on a loop, sausages on the menu. Greenaway, 67, lives nearby with a theatre director called Saskia and their two young children – he also has couple of grownup daughters from a previous marriage to Carol, a potter. Looming opposite is the Rijksmuseum, of which Greenaway

The Night Watch, he reckons, is the first work of real cinema, on account of Rembrandt’s manipulation of artificial light. Though were Rembrandt around today, “he would have been shooting on holograms. He would be post-postJames Cameron.” He shakes his head. “All really worthwhile artists, creators, use the technology of their time and anybody who doesn’t becomes immediately a fossil.” In Greenaway’s case, that means moving towards “feature film as

has just given me a first-class tour, embracing the role with relish: rolling his r’s, spitting his t’s, hammering great deep cleaves between each syllable. Tourists stop and goggle, not necessarily at the Vermeers. We wound up at The Night Watch, Rembrandt’s musket-heavy canvas and the subject of Greenaway’s latest film, Nightwatching. It’s a sort of Renaissance-era CSI (a show he admires; he’s also a Midsomer Murders fan) investigating the puzzles in the painting itself and the mystery of the artist’s sudden fall into virtual penury. Martin Freeman plays Rembrandt:

essay. Like Montaigne. It’s much more discursive. It doesn’t hang on to a psychological narrative and it’s not impressionistic. I don’t want to take you anywhere. It’s not a piece of escapism.” At 67, Greenaway is no longer interested in cinema per se – it’s a half-dead medium wasted by taking its cues from books, “telling bedtime stories for adults. Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are illustrated books. Not cinema. I

SODA oddly plausible and often nude. In fact Nightwatching is rather more conventional than much of his back catalogue. It’s an easily digestible examination of – yep, sex and death – and Greenaway’s other key concerns: painting, snobbery, conspiracy. It’s the latest in an ongoing project to unpick nine art masterpieces through movies and attendant installations. He’s already knocked off The Last Supper and The Marriage at Cana (“Which I think is the wedding of Christ”). The motherlode is Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. Talks, he says, are underway with the Vatican.

want to be a prime creator. As every self-regarding artist should do.” He believes cinema needs to figure out a way to get out of the dark (“Man’s not nocturnal”), get rid of the frame, and the camera, too. “We have a cinema of what we see, not what we think.” Until that happens, though, he’s still making films. And still, apparently, enthused by their possibilities.

_24


He talks as much about two other films he has in the pipeline as he does Nightwatching: one about Eisenstein losing his virginity in Mexico, another “my first, real, dyed-in-thewool pornography” – about a 17th century Dutch engraver. He fishes a postcard from his blazer pocket. It’s another Rijksmuseum highlight, this time by Hendrik Goltzius. “Here you can see Lot and his two daughters; this is a few minutes before they fuck him in order to produce a continuation of the human race.” Why does he do so much? “Maybe it’s a hunger. A horror of the empty space. Without wishing even remotely to impress you, I’m involved in 26 projects at the moment all over the world.

_25

It’s a glorious opportunity to practice being an artist.” Greenaway is an incurable selfpromoter, forever ready with a barrage of stats about how many people he VJ’d in front of in Gdansk, or have seen The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover. There will always be, he says, “people who travel thousands of miles to see a Greenaway film. And I’m still painting – I’ve got a big exhibit coming up in Milan soon. And that’s even more private.” Yet it is on show to the public? “Yes. Well, do you think a person who keeps a diary keeps it for himself ? Anybody who writes a diary insists it must be read by someone else. So if I’m making very private films I want people to see them; of course I do.”


There’s a soreness beneath the swagger. In England, at least, Greenaway must be his own cheerleader. He’s come under attack from his peers; even some of his defenders qualify their praise. He’s also had a rough write-up in a lot of interviews. He suggests various explanations: because he’s a jack of all trades, not a specialist. Because he’s not Oxbridge. Because the English are “textually minded … and so those who practise the image are regarded as not kosher.” He cites an ally in undervaluation: RB Kitaj, another artist of ideas. “He had a big exhibit in Tate 10 years ago and he was absolutely excoriated by people like you because he did your job so much better than you can. He understood it so much more than you did.” He’s happy in Holland. He likes the lack of snobbery, the openness, the freedom. “For a long time now they’ve been able to talk about homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia at the breakfast table. Elsewhere people turn away in embarrassment or run for the hills.” He is, he says, planning to take advantage of the freedom afforded and kill himself when he’s 80. “My youngest daughter will be 21 so I can see her to full adulthood. Why would it be sad? I’ve got 14 years left.

SODA

They say the most valuable thing about death is that you never know when it’s going to happen. But I think this a curse. I think if we knew we’d make much better use of life.” To some extent, this suicide plan is another example of his eagerness to be at the cutting edge – “I think very soon we’re all going to have to seriously discuss compulsory euthanasia.” But it’s also nobler. He’s an ideas man to the end, who’s keen to put them into practice – and not just in film. He has a genuine sense of responsibility. “I’ve had a fantastic life and I’m still enjoying it and am an extremely happy man, but there has to be a trade-off somewhere. I’m a Darwinian. All I can think is that we’re here to fuck, to procreate. And we’re incredibly focused towards it. All our literature and television is pushing us towards it. But I passed on my genes a long time ago, so I have to justify my place in the human race some other way.” You may have to cook up a purpose in life for yourself “since we’ve thrown away God and Satan and Freud”, but he’s evangelical about the necessity of doing so. “I’m not here to play tiddlywinks and I don’t think you are either.” He’s off soon after, striding across the square in his thick pinstripes, booming into his mobile, bursting to crack on with those 26 projects

while he’s still got the time.

_26


#1

Soda Magazine  

A culture magazine including fashion, photography and music. Issue 1 - The Avant-Garde Issue

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you