Friday, May 22, 2015

Opening Night of The Unseen Cinema of HR Giger: The Collaborations of HR Giger

I went to the opening night of the HR Giger Film Festival entitled The Unseen Cinema of HR Giger and it was an interesting evening. If you didn't realize the impact that Giger had on the world of art and popular culture you'd probably be surprised to see people in suits mixed with biker types mixed with women with blue hair mixed with normal people mixed with film writers.  It was a diverse group which was a real tribute and a perfect reason why the Museum of Modern Art needs to get some Giger pieces (more on that in a minute)
Copyright Sebastian Klimek. Posted Courtesy of Leslie Barany

After some introductions Debby Harry and Chris Stein to introduce the evening and talk about their relationship with Giger.
Copyright Sebastian Klimek. Posted courtesy Leslie Baranay

They talked about meeting him accidentally when they went to a gallery by their house to see Giger's art and found him just back with an Oscar in his hand. They then lured him back to their apartment- where he never let go of his Oscar- they quickly became friends.
Copyright Sebastian Klimek. Posted courtesy Leslie Barany

The pair then talked about working with Giger doing the art and promotional films for Harry's first solo album Kookoo. They explained how Debbie didn't like the feeling of having a full life mask cast so it had to be done in pieces leading to casts that were a millimeter off, which drove Giger crazy. They also talked about what it was like in his house and the weird railway that was in the yard, his hesitation to speak in English at first, and how the full size Alien in his living room "scared the shit out of him" when ever he's run into it late at night.
Copyright Sebastian Klimek. Posted Leslie Barany

It was great, but brief talk that lasted 10  or 15 minutes before they headed off- but not before pleading that letter be written to the Museum of Modern Art to have them get some of Giger's pieces in their collection and on display. Chris Stein's eloquent words should abe a call to arms since as he explained Giger has impacted everything in his wake. The plea rightly got a round of applause.
Copyright Leslie Barany

After the talk the program began. First up was a long Star Wars crawl-like warning about the use of images (All of the stills below were supplied to me by Leslie Barany and are copyright by him). It ended with a great pan down to the first alien ship and a killer copyright "C" by Giger.

The first film screened was A NEW FACE OF DEBBIE HARRY and ir showed Harry and Chris Stein working with Giger to shoot music videos for two songs on Harry's Kookoo album. We watch as Giger makes various life masks of Harry, creates the sets for the videos and then shoots them. He also explains how some of the art was repurposed.

 For me who had always loved the art from the album  it was really cool because I got to see how the art was created. On the other hand the film is very uneven with some really cool sections attached to some really dull ones. yes it's a great making of, but unless you're a super fan it can be monotonous.
The film was followed by the two videos we saw being shot in the film. As a film record of Giger's work they are important but, like many videos from the period they have dated badly and are rather dull. (though after seeing the making of film you understand why the shots are as they are- in some another inch or two and you'd be looking into Giger's back yard)

The Second film screened was TAGTRAUM from  JJ Wittmer.

The film charts a painting project between HR Giger, C. Sandoz and W. Wegmueller, This is a wickedly cool film that gets better and better as it goes on as huge white canvases that make up the project are filled with images that are created by one artist and modified by the others.

I loved this film a great deal because it's artists creating wondrous things.

After this clip

We went to the third and longest film SWISSMADE 2069

This one is a head scratcher and had everyone around me twisting in their seats. The film is a weird film that's like some avant garde science fiction films where the world is apartment blocks mashed up with a kind of proto-Jodorowsky sensibility before Jodorowsky hit with EL TOPO.

The film has weird alien with a camera for a face (Giger designed it) wandering around as people tell him about the society which is controlled by a group mind computer and consists of people between 7 and 41. It's a world where Switzerland is a small island on a giant lake.

How is it?

Long and rambling. Its very much of a type that you're either going to love or hate. I could have used less repetition of what society is since it gets old really fast. The other stuff doesn't and it was interesting to see Giger play a role as --er--- a scientist (?). I'm not sure it, like most of the film is never explained.

When the film ended, everyone applauded. It was a good collection of films, which while entertaining for me is probably best described for fans only. Still the chance to see Giger at work was amazing. (if you're going to see one of the films in the collection shoot for TAGTRAUM because its just really cool.)

The festival concludes tomorrow with two more screening one at 3 and the other at 5. For more information go the the series page here. If you're a fan of the artist you must go.

1 comment:

  1. A belated, Thank You, Steve! I just came across your review of the screening. If Memory: The Origins of Alien will have a theatrical screening in NYC, I will invite you as my guest!