Sensory Deprivation

Toledo, Ohio, USA, 1974 Image © Bernd and Hilla Becher

Gas Tanks

Bernd and Hilla Becher

“The famous Düsseldorf photographers’ formal investigation of industrial structures displays their serenely cool, rigorous approach to the structures they photograph as variations on an ideal form. The Bechers make no attempt to analyze or explain their subjects. For more than 35 years, the Bechers have been creating a monument to the most venerable buildings of the industrial era through their photographic art. They have re-awoken the forgotten or unnoticed beauty of water towers, gas holders, lime kilns and blast furnaces, and their photographs have told the story of the process of industrialization. Their head-on, deadpan photographs express an almost Egyptial sense of man’s heroic effort to put his mark on the landscape. Gas Tanks presents four principally different forms of gas holders or gas tanks taken over three decades.”

Publisher: MIT
Hardback: 144 pages


Suture: The Arts Journal

Edited by Jack Sargeant

Volume one of a proposed series of compilations, this is a survey of the work of artists who lie mostly beyond the pale of the gallery world, presented largely in the form of interviews. Sargeant and his contributors make a valiant effort to inject some adrenalin into the quavering carcass of “art” before it completely expires. They do an astounding job of allowing these colorful and focused (if through their own unique prisms) personalities to tell their own stories, all fastidiously footnoted with entertaining explanatory texts in the margins. In most cases, the fiercely individualistic visions of these artists must at this point in history reside by necessity far below the radar of the art flacks and curators, who have just begun to fawn over such stale offerings as brilliant-Black Flag-cartoonist-turned-tedious-high-art-poseur Raymond Pettibon.
Girls (of the Lewis Carroll not the Baywatch variety), dolls, sex and their relationships to each other form an important libidinous undercurrent linking some of the genuinely intriguing artists covered in Suture, from Victorian-absorbed cartoonist/banjo player/cult figure Dame Darcy of Roller Derby and Meat Cake fame to Trevor Brown, who is perhaps best known as graphic designer for the industrial noise-terror unit Whitehouse. Brown relocated to Tokyo and has been churning out a series of highly technically accomplished airbrushed Japanese girls, dolls and war toys in perversely ominous juxtapositions. The remarkable life and career of French collage artist/photographer Romain Slocombe is explored at length; his charm and dedication bring a transcendent grace to his erotic obsession with the collision of Japanese girls and auto accidents, yielding some of the most startling photographic images of our time.
While Suture stumbles out of the opening gate with an extended reminiscence with evergreen bad-girl Lydia Lunch concerning her portrait photography, by the finish line it has explored some truly “world-class” fringe culture production as well as presented some criminally neglected creative territory. Particularly inspiring is the heroic story behind the Australian cold-sweat maximum-security prison flick Ghosts of the Civil Dead, which was directed by John Hillcoat from a script he wrote with Nick Cave (who also appears in the film). Other highlights of Suture include a discussion with painter Joe Coleman about “Devil Anse” Hatfield, leader of the warring Appalachian clan, and Romain Slocombe interviewing the king of manga psych-out Suehiro Maruo (yes, he seems to have a thing for Japanese schoolgirls in uncomfortable situations too). SS

Publisher: Creation
Paperback: 192 pages

Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich

Cinzia Romani

The propaganda machine of the Third Reich under its minister of culture, Joseph Goebbels, sought to entertain by replacing the innovations of Fritz Lang and the expressionist cinema with largely escapist fare. Be they cocktail comedies, operettas or historical costume pageants, these often completely apolitical films were populated with glamorous female star, whose charm and beauty rivaled that of their Hollywood counterparts. But with the fall of the Third Reich, so too fell the career fortunes of these women, whose work remains largely unknown to audiences outside of Germany. Tainted Goddesses explores the careers of 18 of the most significant of these actresses. JAT

Publisher: Sarpedon
Paperback: 192 pages

The UFA Story: A History of Germany’s Greatest Film Company, 1918-1945

Klaus Kreimeier

The UFA Story concentrates on the political and corporate machinations which formed and ultimately destroyed this great dream factory. Created by the German government in 1917 and financed by the German Bank, UFA was originally intended to serve as a unifying tool of propaganda to unite the peoples of Central Europe and to combat the influence of Hollywood. UFA’s history and fortunes ultimately mirrored Germany’s. UFA grew rapidly through its systematic acquisition of virtually every significant studio, distribution network and cinema chain not only in Germany but in surrounding regions from Denmark to the Ukraine, achieving a vertical as well as a horizontal integration. Government control loosened during the Weimar Republic, allowing such innovative talents as Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, G.W. Pabst, Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings to blossom and produce such works as Metropolis, Dr. Mabuse, The Blue Angel, Die Niebulungen, and Pandora’s Box. With the rise of the Third Reich, UFA once again became a tool of propaganda, glorifying National Socialism until the end of World War II when only its gutted remains survived. JAT

Publisher: Hill and Wang
Hardback: 451 pages

Underground Film: A Critical History

Parker Tyler

In another classic of film literature, film critic Parker Tyler reevaluates the films of Man Ray, Brakhage, Cassavetes, Warhol and many more circa 1969. Chapters include: “The Exploding Peephole of the Underground,” “The Pad Can Be Commercialized,” “Psychedelic Anamorphosis and Its Lesson,” and “The Plastic Pulse Ticks On.” OAA

Publisher: Da Capo
Paperback: 266 pages

The Untameables

F.T. Marinetti

This is a novel beyond categorization. It’s symbolic poetry, science fiction, fable, or perhaps a philosophical social vision. Written in a free-form style, The Untameables relates the adventures of Mirmofim and the Untameables, who are engaged in loony combat in the world of the paper people. It makes for hilarious reading while exploring the modern world of bayonets, electronic lights, sign boards, gear shifts, and spotlights inscribing acetylene words. SC

Publisher: Sun and Moon
Paperback: 228 pages

Viennese Actionism 1960-1971: The Shattered Mirror

Edited by Herbert Klocker

“Through my art production (form of a live devotion) I take the apparently negative, the unsavory, the perverse, the obscene, the lust and the victim hysteria resulting from them upon myself to save YOU the polluted, shameless descent into the extreme… Comedy will become a means of finding access to the deepest and holiest symbols through blasphemy and desecration. The blasphemous provocation is devotion. It is a matter of gaining an anthropologically determined view of existence, through which grail and phallus can be considered two qualified extremes. A philosophy of intoxication, of ecstasies, enchantments shows as a result that the innermost of the living and intensely vital is the frenzied excitation, the orgy, which represents a constellation of existence where pleasure, pain, death and procreation are approached and permeated.”—Excerpted from the “Manifesto of the Blood Organ,” Hermann Nitsch, 1962
Vienna in the ‘60s spawned a group of four artists—Hermann Nitsch, Otto Mühl, Günter Brus and Rudolph Schwartzkogler—who sought to literally reverse the psychoanalytic concept of sublimation into a torrent of blood, aggression, sexuality, shit, pain and self-mutilation which would puncture the tidy categories of Art and Life, and enact Antonin Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty on a smug, postwar Austrian public. Their unbridled artistic “actions” were the means to their end of unleashing the Catholic bourgeois Viennese psyche in a healing “abreaction,” wreaking the revenge of Freud on his picture-postcard hometown. This sublimely designed collection (the in-print half of a two-volume set) documents with photos, drawings, chronologies and essays show how the four very different artists played out the rigorously psychoanalytical yet visceral ideas of their Aktion school—the meditative Schwartzkogler in his medical-mutilation photo tableaux, the masochistic Brus in his cathartic “body analyses,” the communal Mühl in his messy, bawdy happenings, and the ritualistic Nitsch with his dionysian, sacrificial “blood orgies.” SS

Publisher: Ritter Verlag
Paperback: 392 pages

View from a Tortured Libido

Robert Williams

A collection of 60 of Williams’ paintings. Hot rods, monsters, girls in bikinis and taco stands are but a few of the distinctive elements of a Williams painting. Introduction by Timothy Leary. PH

Publisher: Last Gasp
Paperback: 92 pages

View: Parade of the Avant-Garde 1940-47

Edited by Charles Henri Ford

View, a magazine of the 1940s, defined the avant-garde movement in America. Established in New York, founded and edited by Charles Henri Ford, View first appeared in September 1940. It was the first art magazine to publish interviews with such artists as André Breton, Jorge Luis Borges, translator and longtime contributor Paul Bowles and many visual artists—Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Georgia O’Keefe, Isamu Noguchi, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray and Yves Tanguy, to name but a few. Ford’s roster of artists was always impressive, and well ahead of its time. View established the avant-garde’s standards and claimed New York as its center.
“View is the impossible magazine of the arts no one could have dreamed,” said writer William Carlos Williams. The book gives a chronological presentation of Ford’s career, acquaintances, and influences. Surprisingly, even though View was distributed worldwide, its circulation “peaked at 3,000.” The intention of the magazine was not “to shock the bourgeoisie but to amass evidence that this (America) was not the land of Puritans and the American dream.” The magazine stands as a testament to its creed of “advocating nothing political other than individual resistance to all forms of authority.” The book also details historical events and social conditions in regard to homosexuality. View thrived with an intoxicating combination of wit, appetite for transgression, humor and business acumen. OAA

Publisher: Thunder's Mouth
Paperback: 287 pages

The Village


“Before he died, Weegee composed a mockup for a book about New York’s Greenwich Village in the late ‘40s and ‘50s. Folk singing, rent parties, costume balls, drag queens on parade, etc.”

Publisher: Da Capo
Paperback: 96 pages

Virgin Destroyer

Manuel Ocampo

Born in Quezon City, the Philippines of well-educated journalist parents who published their child’s cartoons in their local newspaper, this self-taught artist developed an acute awareness of the world through the eyes of history and his Filipino upbringing. In Virgin Destroyer, his 66 paintings blend history, economics, greed, lust and genocide turning each of their elements inside out. One of Ocampo’s first stints in art was painting false religious relics (have they ever been anything else?) that jaded art dealers would buy from his boss, a Catholic priest, and sell off as authentic originals. Ocampo lifts the rug that history has swept a multitude of isolated torturous moments under, exposing an iconographic militant parade of “hybrid figures”: a hooded klansman priest, crosses replaced by swastikas, amputee children, faceless victims, devils, skeletons celebrating an apocalyptic jubilee of punishment and perversions. In his 12 religious paintings focusing on the Stations of the Cross, Ocampo strips each one of its content, symbolism and illusory mythical power, converting the Virgin Mary into a giant roach, and mockingly reincarnating Jesus in the form of a street dog. OAA

Publisher: Hardy Marks
Paperback: 95 pages