Mapplethorpe, black and white rebel

Mapplethorpe, black and white rebel

Controversy and censorship return to accompany the irreverent North American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe , almost 30 years after his death. A couple of weeks ago the artist was again censored at the Serralves Museum in Oporto . Twenty photographs were taken out of the sample because they were considered pornographic, in the same way that they had been censored 40 years ago in New York, causing closings of galleries, flight of sponsors and an accusation in the Senate. The snapshots, some sadomasochistic cut, were withdrawn against the will of the director of the museum, Joao Ribas , who had personally selected almost 200 photographs, which ultimately cost him his resignation. To make matters worse, the Serralves Foundation opted to put another group of works in a room presided over by a warning sign: “Access to minors under 18 is forbidden”, stuck to the wall with an improvised zeal. Why is Mapplethorpe’s work still controversial in our day? Perhaps the answer is the documentary ” Black, White + Gray” , a title that we premiered exclusively this week.

 

MAPPLETHORPE, WHITE AND BLACK

Black White + Gray” works as a portrait of the relationship between Robert Mapplethorpe and Sam Wagstaff, whose mutual devotion to photography grew at the same time as the love they professed. “Black White + Gray” is a documentary that delves into the reinvidication of photography as art, according to Wagstaff, who is as necessary for existence as food, claiming that he knew himself through it. ” Although he can give you the Same ecstatic feeling as a painting, photography is more mysterious, through a dark and alchemical process is given the semblance of reality, it is like art, it looks like art in many instances, but thank God there is something more I had a conversion with photography “, according to his own words.

Wagstaff and Mapplethorpe discovered and collected together anti-aesthetic photography, which they considered a pleasure well. Will it be reality, pleasure and conscience that is still scary? Wagstaff, educated at Yale, was born in the cradle of gold and took Mapplethorpe out of the suburbs of Queens, two men whose origins were deeply contrasted. Wagstaff gave him a camera, bought him the studio-house he needed to work and introduced him to the world of art, a world that, apparently, was waiting for him, creating the man who continues to provoke controversy. Wagstaff was behind the initial entry of Mapplethorpe into the art world in New York, which soon rose quickly.

What distinguishes “Black White + Gray”, a documentary that bears the same name as an exhibition by Wagstaff, is precisely the portrait of this sentimental relationship between them, being the first one to deal with the figure of his partner and the influence he had on his life. Although reality is sometimes treacherous and the name that has transcended in history has been Mapplethorp e, the memory of Wagstaff has been totally forgotten. As the Chilean director Patricio Guzmán affirms, in the documentary format the most essential thing is to find a good character that guides the story you want to tell. Something that the American writer Dominick Dunne already anticipated: “I always thought that Wagstaff would be a good character for a book”.

“Black White + Gray” also explores the relationship that both men had with the poet and music Patti Smith. As Smith describes, the three met in an amplified period of existence where time blew, during the 70s, when the three went together everywhere. The poet and the photographer had been partners before, and despite their break, their connection lasted over time, even after the death of the photographer, as we analyzed later from the documentary about the life of Patti Smith. And is that Mapplethorne strongly influenced the life of the legendary artist as shown in his book “Just Kids” , which tells the vicissitudes of their relationship and soon will launch a new illustrated version anticipating the 30 years of death of the photographer.

DREAM OF LIFE
To get to know the poet and singer Patti Smith better, it is essential to immerse yourself in the documentary “Dream of life”, filmed over twelve years of her life. In its almost two hours, we reviewed the intense life of the singer, from his escape to New York and meeting a young Mapplethorne to his establishment at the Chelsea Hotel, where he met the most influential artists of the time and where he served as model for the photographer. After the success of the disc “Horses”, the career of Smith stands at the same time that the life of Mapplethrone begins to die down. In ’89, the photographer would die of AIDS, converting the photos that illustrate the album “Dream of life” as their last collaboration together.

In addition to her poetry and music, what deepens Patti Smith in this documentary is in her losses: the death of Mapplethorpe, her husband: the guitarist Fred Sonic Smith and a month after the unexpected death of his beloved brother Todd Smith. She talks about those times, where even her friends were still alive, Smith is almost the only survivor of her generation and as she tells in the documentary, we are the voice of a generation. The poet thought that these people were not dead, they did not sleep, they had awakened from the dream of life. Patti Smith expresses that: “we all carry a dead man on the wrist”. Already in “Just Kids” the poet wrote “Why can not I write something that resuscitates the dead? That is my deepest desire . ” The poet visits death in this film, as everything she does, in her own way, at her own pace, shows different curious objects that the photographer gave her and with all naturalness takes in her hands a chest that has the remains of Mapplethorpe: ” I like to have them, I can travel and take them with me ” and showing them to the camera, he notes: ” people think that someone’s remains are like ashes, but no, they are like sea shells “. She talks about how her husband, guitarist Fred Sonic Smith, lives in her children, with qualities that she does not have, even though she did not raise them. In other planes he embraces the tomb of Arthur Rimbaud, poet whom he admired so much and remembers the support he received from William Burroughs and Bob Dylan .

He recalls not only his career but different stages of his life, his childhood in the modest home of his parents in a kitchen surrounded by cows but where he never missed a book, when talking about that period he says: ” When you are a child you move without effort in the unknown, in youth one defeats the feeling of staying elsewhere “, that’s when Patti moves to New York, a place that inspires her prayer to NY: ” New York is what seduced me. New York is what shaped me. New York is what deformed me. New York is what perverted me. New York is what made me. And New York is what I love too . ” There he meets Mapplethorpe, in a stage that he defines as a golden plane. Patti Smith says that since she has used reason she tried to be free and always wanted to be an artist and a poet, in that search she discovered her rhythm and the roots of her voice and ended up being a vocalist of a rock and roll band, something she never imagined . The poet, legend of punk, feminist icon, who has always been in favor of preserving our planet, against the war, transferred the responsibility to exercise and use the voice, accused the former president of the United States, George Bush , openly in his recitals, inciting young people to appropriate the streets, in search of freedom, for the poet: “People have the power”. The fascinating documentary works as an intimate diary, in the style of Patti Smith.

 

 

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“Burning” crime without punishment

“Burning” crime without punishment

The strong presence of oriental cinema that presented the last 71 edition of the Cannes Festival was another great news to celebrate. Regular names like those of the Japanese Hirokazu Kore-eda and the Chinese Jia Zhang-Ke , as well as the emerging Ryusuke Hamaguchi , were joined by Lee Chang-dong . “Burning” is his return to the big door after eight years of absence of the Korean teacher. After winning the FIPRESCI Prize at the most important festival in the world, his new and superb thriller competes in the Official Section of the Sitges Festival.

What is it?

When he makes a delivery, Jongsu, a young messenger, meets by chance Haemi, a girl who lived in his neighborhood. The girl asks her to take care of her cat during a trip to Africa. Upon his return, Haemi introduces him to Ben, a mysterious man he met there. One day, Ben reveals to Jongsu a very strange pastime …

Who’s behind?

It has been one of the most anticipated returns of this new edition of the Cannes Festival. After “Secret Sunshine” (Best Actress at Cannes 2007) and “Poetry” (Best Screenplay at Cannes 2010) Lee Chang-dong and his usual co-screenwriter, Oh Jung-mi, have needed eight years of a meticulous and demanding process to finish “Burning” that adapts the short story Barn Burning Haruki Murakami , published for the first time in the New Yorker.

Who goes out?

Yoo Ah-in , face recognizable by its prominence in “Above the law “, debutant Jun Jong-seo and Steven Yeun (who we recently saw in Sitges as the protagonist of the North American “Mayhem” ) are its protagonists.

 

What is it?

A class struggle with a triangle of love.

What does it offer?

“Burning” has been confirmed as another of the official titles of the Official Section, another of the favorites to win the Palme d’Or. After eight years of inactivity, the South Korean maestro Lee Chang-Dong moves away from his unmistakable melodramatic stamp for embrace the incendiary thriller, thus adding a new record to his personal work marked above all by the dramatic and social reflection that leads to one of the great classical genres par excellence as is melodrama. Change of registration, but not style. In this case, the South Korean director embraces the short story of Haruki Murakami and takes it to his own ground to articulate a raging allegory about South Korea’s current society, a class struggle in which, as happens in most of the countries of the first world that are ruled by the monstrosity of capitalism, the lower class does not escape its condemnation while impunity is at the service of the benefit and rejoicing of the high. A conflict of universal character to which Lee Chang-Dong puts the shape and body of a love triangle. An enigmatic relationship with three bands that combines the romantic plot with an unpredictable character of intrigue to finally lead to a heartbreaking moral tale, in which we find two young unemployed and ultimately, helpless, at the mercy of a mysterious rich (that there is a moment of the film in which Jongsu uses the term Great Gatsby to refer to him says it all).

In short, “Burning” is the stark portrait of a society in which there is no place for goodness or rather, the good is corrupted and dynamited by the feeling of helplessness to which it submits an inherent evil that is not even aware of his pettiness. Plasmed on an absorbing cadence, a subtle directorial hand and a meticulous economy of resources, “Burning” does not spare a single second of footage. A merit that is even greater if we can be careful that its duration embraces the 150 minutes. Two and a half hours that link sublime nuanced scenes and that also contain another one of the most memorable sequences of the festival, a dance that agglutinates and symbolizes much of the meaning and meaning of this fascinating film.

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