Blogs Crosscuts Walker Film

Walker Veteran Miranda July Returns with Performance Piece New Society

Miranda July is an artist traversing many mediums. From film to fiction, performance art to installation, July explores the complicated ways that humans communicate. She is frequently at the center of her art—writing, directing, and acting in her own films and performances. July last visited the Walker in 2011 to introduce her latest film, The […]

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Miranda July is an artist traversing many mediums. From film to fiction, performance art to installation, July explores the complicated ways that humans communicate. She is frequently at the center of her art—writing, directing, and acting in her own films and performances. July last visited the Walker in 2011 to introduce her latest film, The Future (her post-screening discussion of the film is available on the Walker Channel), the bizarre tale of a couple whose world falls apart when they decide to adopt a cat. She returns this week for the world premiere of a performance work called New Society that pushes the limits of audience collaboration. She was also here in June of 2000 to perform an excerpt from The Swan Tool and to screen I Saw Bones and Nest of Tens. Her film Me and You and Everyone We Know screened in Women with Vision in May 2005. Finally, Getting Stronger Every Day screened at Walker in 2002 for Women with Vision. Tickets are on sale now for the October 30 and 31 performances.

July’s art is instantly recognizable: colorful palettes, content without context, tender confessions, and audience integration. From a hallway adorned with comically ominous text to a series of emails from celebrities that all address the same topic, July manages to create an experience that feels both personal and universal. Her newest experiment is the Somebody app: a program that allows you to communicate with friends by delivering your message verbally through a stranger who is in their proximity. The Walker plays host to the app this fall, operating as a hub for interaction.

Since the mid-90s, July has been building an impressive body of work. To learn more, visit her website that features a comprehensive chronicle of all her creations.

Filmmaker Portraits: Rakhshan Bani-Etemad

To celebrate the Walker’s 75th anniversary, Crosscuts will feature a series of filmmakers who have visited the art center over the last few decades.  Consistently featured in the Walker’s Women with Vision series, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad  is Iran’s most renowned female filmmaker. She modulates between documentary and narrative features, but her honest portrayal of the social and […]

To celebrate the Walker’s 75th anniversary, Crosscuts will feature a series of filmmakers who have visited the art center over the last few decades. 

Bani-Etemad during her 2010 visit.

Bani-Etemad during her 2010 visit.

Consistently featured in the Walker’s Women with Vision series, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad  is Iran’s most renowned female filmmaker. She modulates between documentary and narrative features, but her honest portrayal of the social and political issues in Iran remains constant. In April of 2010, she taught a master class at the Walker that addressed issues of authenticity and outlined strategies for how to capture restricted areas on film. Media censorship in Iran is incredibly strict: women cannot be seen wearing any type of revealing clothing, men and women cannot be physically close on screen, Western ideology is curtailed, and there can be no expression of negativity toward religion without due reason. Despite these limitations, Iranian cinema is one of the most thriving film cultures in the world. According to The Atlantic, There are more female filmmakers in Iran than there are in America.

Whether documentary or fiction, Bani-Etemad’s films highlight the resilience of the modern Iranian woman. She has managed to skirt portrayals of prostitutes, love triangles, women’s rights activists, and drug dealing past the Iranian censors. She is also the first woman to ever receive the award for Best Director at the Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran. Bani-Etemad works closely with her daughter, Baran Kosari, who is an actress that has played roles in many of her features.

A variety of Bani-Etemad’s films have screened at the Walker, from 2003’s Our Times, a documentary about Iran’s 2001 elections in which 48 women ran for president, to 2006’s Gilanah which confronts the horrors of war in Iran and Iraq through the eyes of a mother and her pregnant daughter. She also introduced a screening of her film Mainline during her 2010 visit to the Twin Cities. Bani-Etemad’s latest film—Tales—premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in late August.

Vampire Western in Farsi Makes Minneapolis Premiere in the Walker Cinema

This weekend the Walker Cinema starts its weekend run of the Sundance hit A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Director Ana Lily Amirpour was nominated today for Breakthrough Director for the Gotham Independent Film Awards. Amirpour started making short horror films at age 12 and makes her directorial debut (produced by Elijah Wood) in […]

Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Photo courtesy Kino Lorber 2014

Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Photo: Kino Lorber, 2014

This weekend the Walker Cinema starts its weekend run of the Sundance hit A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Director Ana Lily Amirpour was nominated today for Breakthrough Director for the Gotham Independent Film Awards. Amirpour started making short horror films at age 12 and makes her directorial debut (produced by Elijah Wood) in this feature about love, loneliness, and a skateboarding vampire.

So far only a French-subtitled trailer exists, but this in no way deters from appreciating the enveloping black-and-white contrast Amirpour skillfully uses to tie us to Bad City—a place ridden with sorrow and desperate characters.

Simultaneously chilling and charming, Amirpour’s casting of Sheila Vand as the vampire (“The Girl”) is one of the more remarkable leads I’ve seen in awhile. Vand instills the same level of terror as Halloween’s Michael Myers—a slow and silent walk in pursuit of her victims, with sudden appearances as she makes her attacks. Otherwise, she travels around at night on her skateboard and one evening encounters Arash—a human she instantly sympathizes with as he innocently asks for help getting home.

Amirpour plays with the horror genre in an entirely new way, as we soon see equal instances of Vand protecting certain townspeople and killing others. It’s a film in which all the characters are victims—both of themselves and the consequences of their choices, but the combination of romance, horror, and western ultimately delivers a tale of fun.

You can purchase tickets for screenings this weekend and a special Halloween screening at 7:30 pm next Friday.

Film without Film: Derek Jarman’s Blue

When filmmaker Derek Jarman publicly declared himself HIV positive in 1987, he acknowledged that the public would “expect” a response within his work. “I left it as long as possible, because making a film about illness is jolly difficult.” The result is Blue (1993), a 35mm film comprising a single and continuous 79-minute image of […]

An exhibition installation of Derek Jarman's Blue at the Walker

An exhibition installation of Derek Jarman’s Blue at the Walker

When filmmaker Derek Jarman publicly declared himself HIV positive in 1987, he acknowledged that the public would “expect” a response within his work. “I left it as long as possible, because making a film about illness is jolly difficult.” The result is Blue (1993), a 35mm film comprising a single and continuous 79-minute image of International Klein Blue (IKB), accompanied by a voice-over in the form of Jarman’s personal autobiography.

Now an iconic piece of cinema, this film emerged from many different incarnations and displays. In fact, Jarman went through several titles before settling on Blue. Here are a few of them:

Blue protects white from innocence

Blue is Poison

Blueprint

Bruises

Forget-Me-Not

Into the Blue

My Blue Heaven

O

Speedwell Eyes

Most memorably, though, it was earlier referred to as Bliss—a title which adorns Jarman’s hand-painted notebook of the same name. Jarman initially thought of Blue in the form of a performance, wherein songs, poems, and tracts meditating on the immateriality of Yves Klein’s work would be recited. As his biographer, Tony Peake, notes, the dramatis personae would include “Klein himself, St. Rita, the Knights of St. Sebastian, and IKB, a blue, mercurial messenger of the gods.”

Title page of Derek Jarman's 'Bliss Book.' Collection: Estate of Derek Jarman

Title page of Derek Jarman’s Bliss Book. Collection: Estate of Derek Jarman

Blue is often described as a film without image, a film without materiality. In this way, the work could be said to follow the logic of avant-garde structuralist filmmaking. But this description of a dematerialized film is not only a conceptual interpretation of the work, but also a description of some of the ways in which this film practically functioned. Although its primary release was to cinema distribution, the BBC broadcast a “simul-cast”: presenting an audio dub version of Blue on the radio; and distributed a postcard of IKB, so that its audience could gaze upon the colored card in the privacy of their homes and listen along with their transistor radios. Similar incarnations of the film appear in poster form, performance, and television. Blue was thus not only a film emptied of image, but it could be a film without film, a film without cinema.

The Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection houses a pristine 35mm celluloid print of Blue, soon to be shown as part of the forthcoming “Commemorating Derek Jarman” film series, and screened in relation to Jarman’s approach to his filmic apparatus. But when the Walker originally presented the film in the galleries (outside of the cinema context), conservation concerns over wearing down and scratching this 35mm print through months of looped projection led to a different solution: a flickering projector (aided by a piece of kit called “The Flicker-O-Meter,” whose manual can be found in the Walker archives) would beam through a projection window coated with a blue gel. This filmless projector would thus throw a perfectly IKB shade, accompanied by a CD dub of the soundtrack. Again, Blue was a film without film.

Both then and now, Jarman’s masterpiece raises intriguing technical questions of how to show a film, particularly regarding its digital presentations. While a recent transfer of Blue from 35mm to Blu-Ray has offered a new standard for the digital presentation of the film, questions of display has now turned to the surface on which the work should be projected, most notably with a recent screening of the work at the IMAX in London where the modern screen, which is digital and 3D-ready, was noted in returning a slightly different shade of Blue.

Such technological queries are explicitly foregrounded by Blue’s simplicity and minimalism. Indeed, throughout his career, Jarman was acutely aware of the properties and limits of the mediums in which he worked, most notably his love of Super-8 as a “cinema of small gestures.” So too, the flicker of 35mm celluloid insists on a filmic grain that emulates the original material and surface of IKB: the painted canvas — Jarman’s first medium as an artist.

As Blue fluidly migrates between the medium of celluloid, digital, audio, and the printed page, the primary concern of the work — the depiction of Jarman’s experience of HIV and AIDS — also leverages its power from the ineffable. The virus, and the experience of it, lacks an iconic image, body, or definition that can fully convey the overwhelming devastation and the complexity of its occurrence. AIDS necessarily exists in multiplicity of people, narratives, and times. By the time Jarman came to finishing Blue, complications from AIDS-related illness and its treatments had left him partially sighted, leaving a haze of blue in place of vision.

Emptying out the image, removing the comfortable props and traditions of cinema in favor of a filmless and perhaps even placeless meditation thus offers a glimpse of the unfamiliar landscape that Jarman rendered in parallel to his own life with and death from AIDS.

Passings: Screenwriter/Producer/Actor L.M. Kit Carson (1941–2014)

L.M. Kit Carson, perhaps best known for writing the screenplay of Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, died Monday night in Dallas after enduring a long-term illness. Carson was well-liked and respected in the film community, known for his generosity in helping young filmmakers start their projects, such as Wes Anderson and Luke and Owen Wilson. Carson’s […]

Lawrence Schiller, Dennis Hopper, and L.M. Kit Carson on set of The American Dreamer. ©Polaris Communications Inc., All Rights Reserved, Photo courtesy Lawrence Schiller 1971

Lawrence Schiller, Dennis Hopper, and L.M. Kit Carson on set of The American Dreamer. ©Polaris Communications Inc.  All Rights Reserved. Photo courtesy Lawrence Schiller, 1971

L.M. Kit Carson, perhaps best known for writing the screenplay of Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, died Monday night in Dallas after enduring a long-term illness. Carson was well-liked and respected in the film community, known for his generosity in helping young filmmakers start their projects, such as Wes Anderson and Luke and Owen Wilson.

Carson’s fascination with letting the camera roll and observe without manipulating its subjects is clearly executed in the dramatized documentary he made with co-director Lawrence Schiller on Dennis Hopper, The American Dreamer.  The Walker screened a new digital restoration of the film this past Saturday during the kickoff of the Walker’s 75th anniversary celebration. Unfortunately, Carson’s illness prevented him from joining Schiller at the Walker.

When we ask how film creates culture, Carson is the perfect answer. Traveling to Hopper’s New Mexico ranch and allowing the camera to record Hopper’s playful roles of different everyday personae, he and Schiller succeeded in displaying an entire movement—the counterculture of the 1970s. This raw and non-stylized type of filmmaking was rare for this time and exemplary of Carson and Schiller’s unique approach. Matt Zoller Seitz writes that “Kit was never the kind of artist that one could sell.”  This devotion to art (not the business) of film was a spearhead in the formation of both the Texas film scene and American independent filmmaking.

Carson left the world having contributed to an array of films—whether as actor, writer, or producer—and will remain a strong and loving inspiration. He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Hargrave, and son, actor Hunter Carson, who first appeared in Paris, Texas and gives a farewell shared by many: “Thanks for everything. See you in the movies.”

Dear White People : Conversation with the Director

Addressing race issues on campuses today, Dear White People director Justin Simien, producer Effie Brown, and actors Tyler James Williams and Tessa Thompson joined Leola Johnson from Macalester College for an in-depth conversation about the realities of contemporary college life and how this film helps shape the discussion.  Going beyond their work, the creative team also […]


Addressing race issues on campuses today, Dear White People director Justin Simien, producer Effie Brown, and actors Tyler James Williams and Tessa Thompson joined Leola Johnson from Macalester College for an in-depth conversation about the realities of contemporary college life and how this film helps shape the discussion.  Going beyond their work, the creative team also discuss filmmakers ranging from Spike Lee to Tyler Perry. The conversation was recorded in the Walker Cinema the day after an advance screening was presented in May 2014 as part of the Walker’s Next Look series. The film was also presented as a case study at IFP Minnesota’s 15th Annual Midwest Filmmaker’s Conference.

Justin Simien’s directorial debut is a witty satire about African American students on a university campus (shot at the University of Minnesota), where a controversy over race breaks out when a contested student election sets in motion “a plot that is full of intrigue and surprise in a mood of sly, knowing satire” (New York Times). Nothing is simply black and white in this playful portrait of race and cultural identity on today’s campus.

Leola Johnson is Associate Professor and Chair of the Media and Cultural Studies department at Macalester College, St Paul, MN.

Filmmaker Portraits: Cheryl Dunye

To celebrate the Walker’s 75th anniversary, Crosscuts will feature a series of filmmakers who have visited the art center over the last few decades.  Cheryl Dunye is a self-proclaimed black queer cinema artist. Born in Liberia in 1966, she moved to Philadelphia at a young age. Like Gregg Araki, Dunye also belonged to the New Queer […]

To celebrate the Walker’s 75th anniversary, Crosscuts will feature a series of filmmakers who have visited the art center over the last few decades. 

Dunye during her 1999 residency at the Walker.

Dunye during her 1999 residency at the Walker.

Cheryl Dunye is a self-proclaimed black queer cinema artist. Born in Liberia in 1966, she moved to Philadelphia at a young age. Like Gregg Araki, Dunye also belonged to the New Queer Cinema of the 90s. Her first film, The Watermelon Woman (1996) is a self-reflexive pseudo-documentary about a young filmmaker on a quest to learn about a black film actress from the 1930s, credited only as Watermelon Woman. Dunye plays the leading role as a fictionalized version of herself: a woman who seeks to understand more about the politicization of sexuality, race, and attraction. The film exposes the often invisible stories of black women in film and Dunye’s need to invent her own history.

The Walker has prominently featured Dunye’s work ever since her debut film. The Watermelon Woman was screened twice in the late 90s. The filmmaker also conducted a two month residency in 1999 to develop the screenplay for Stranger Inside. Perhaps a precursor to Orange is the New Black, this film made for television examines a young woman detained in a juvenile corrections facility who is transferred to the prison where her mother is serving her sentence when she turns 21. Dunye worked with inmates at the Shakopee Correctional Facility to mold her script. It was important to her that the story was a collaborative process that was reflective of the realities of female prisoners. Dunye also consulted archives at the Minnesota History Center to learn more about the historical circumstances of incarcerated women. She staged readings of the screenplay both inside the prison and at the Walker. Stranger Inside was screened as part of the Women with Vision program at the Walker upon completion in 2001.

Dunye’s films have played at countless festivals across the globe and she has earned accolades such as the Teddy Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival and best feature in L.A.’s OutFest. Partially funded through Kickstarter, Dunye’s latest project is a short called Black is Blue. It follows the story of a trans man who must confront his past when he runs into his ex-girlfriend while working as a security guard.

Filmmaker Portraits: Kenneth Anger

To celebrate the Walker’s 75th anniversary, Crosscuts will feature a series of filmmakers who have visited the art center over the last few decades.  Scenes from a Kenneth Anger film read as hellish nightmares: men assaulted by Navy officers, Lucifer wandering throughout the Egyptian pyramids, grisly motorcycle deaths, and a lit firework as a stand-in phallus. […]

To celebrate the Walker’s 75th anniversary, Crosscuts will feature a series of filmmakers who have visited the art center over the last few decades. 

In 1980, Anger visited the Walker to premier  Lucifer Rising . The film was still a work in progress at the time.

In 1980, Anger visited the Walker to premiere Lucifer Rising. The film was still a work in progress at the time.

Scenes from a Kenneth Anger film read as hellish nightmares: men assaulted by Navy officers, Lucifer wandering throughout the Egyptian pyramids, grisly motorcycle deaths, and a lit firework as a stand-in phallus. The 87-year-old filmmaker has had a prolific career since the 1940s, creating shorts shot exclusively on 16 and 35mm. Anger visited the Walker twice: in 1980 to premiere Lucifer Rising (which was still a work in progress at the time) and again in 2007 for the screening of restorations of four of his most seminal films, Fireworks, Rabbit’s Moon, Scorpio Rising, and Kustom Kar Kammandos.

Anger’s tattoo—the word “Lucifer” sprawled across his chest—says a lot about him. Despite Lucifer’s Christian association as the fallen angel, Anger reconceptualizes Lucifer in his original context as the bringer of light throughout his films.  In fact, Christian imagery is frequently subverted in Anger’s work. In Scorpio Rising, footage from the children’s television show The Living Bible is interspersed with a homoerotic biker orgy and sound tracked by The Surfaris “Wipeout.” Light as metaphor features prominently in Fireworks, a 15 minute film Anger describes as “all I have to say about being seventeen, the United States Navy, American Christmas, and the Fourth of July.” Anger’s films deal heavily in homoeroticism (he was arrested on obscenity charges when Fireworks was released), dreamscapes, violence, and American pop culture. The filmmaker was well acquainted with the likes of Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Anaïs Nin, Alfred Kinsey, and Marianne Faithfull. Despite these more populist associations, Anger remained decidedly in the camp of underground cinema and never filmed a feature length movie.

For as bizarre and fantastical as Anger’s films are, his life is equally kaleidoscopic. He was a believer in the supernatural, magic, and paganism. He was very close with Aleister Crowley, black magician and founder of the Thelema religion. Thelema laid the groundwork for Ron L Hubbard and Scientology. Anger has published two volumes of a series called Hollywood Babylon that documents crime, scandal, and gossip in old Hollywood. He has a third volume completed but it exposes secrets about Tom Cruise and he has no intention of engaging with Scientologists while the actor is still alive. If this sounds fantastical, it is. Anger lived in a world entirely of his own creation.

To read more about Anger’s extraordinary and unsettling life, check out this long form read on Esquire.

Filmmaker Portraits: Gregg Araki

To celebrate the Walker’s 75th anniversary, Crosscuts will feature a series of filmmakers who have visited the art center over the last few decades.  In 1991, scholar and film critic B. Ruby Rich coined the term “new queer cinema.” This emerging film movement offered an alternative to the heteronormativity of mainstream Hollywood and addressed the anxieties […]

To celebrate the Walker’s 75th anniversary, Crosscuts will feature a series of filmmakers who have visited the art center over the last few decades. 

Araki during his 1989 visit to the Walker to introduce his film  The  Long Weekend

Araki during his 1989 visit to the Walker to introduce his film The Long Weekend.

In 1991, scholar and film critic B. Ruby Rich coined the term “new queer cinema.” This emerging film movement offered an alternative to the heteronormativity of mainstream Hollywood and addressed the anxieties that plagued queer America: AIDS, sexuality, and gay rights (to name a few). One of the most prominent filmmakers to emerge from this movement was Gregg Araki. Born and raised in Southern California in the 1970s, Araki studied film at the University of Santa Barbara before shooting his first movie in 1987—Three Bewildered People in the Night—guerilla-style on a budget of only $5,000. The movie tells the story of a love triangle that emerges between an artist, her lover, and their gay friend.

Araki achieved widespread recognition with The Living End in 1992. The movie traces the love affair between two HIV positive men who embark on a wild and irresponsible road trip throughout California. Originally shot on 16mm, Araki gave the film a complete overhaul in 2008 when he created a high definition video version and remixed the soundtrack.  The Walker screened The Living End Remixed and Remastered as part of the Queer Takes: Visibly Out series in June of 2008.

The success of The Living End kicked off Araki’s teenage apocalypse trilogy. These three films, Totally Fucked Up, The Doom Generation, and Nowhere, are set in a dystopian, drug-fueled version of Los Angeles and portray the existential angst of gay youth. In the last decade, Araki has directed films with bigger budgets such as Mysterious Skin starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and this year’s White Bird in a Blizzard starring Shailene Woodley and Eva Green which premiered at Sundance in January. Araki’s latest film will have a wide release on October 24, 2014.

 

 

 

Punking Out: Derek Jarman and Vivienne Westwood on Jubilee

On a white cotton sleeveless t-shirt, now housed in the V&A Collection in London, the following words are printed: Open T shirt to Derek Jarman from Vivienne Westwood JUBILEE I had been to see it once and thought it the most boring and therefore disgusting film I had ever seen. I went to see it […]

Vivienne Westwood's "Open T-Shirt to Derek Jarman", 1978. V&A Collection, London.

Vivienne Westwood, “Open T-Shirt to Derek Jarman…,” 1978. Collection: V&A, London

On a white cotton sleeveless t-shirt, now housed in the V&A Collection in London, the following words are printed:

Open T shirt to Derek Jarman from Vivienne Westwood JUBILEE I had been to see it once and thought it the most boring and therefore disgusting film I had ever seen. I went to see it again for afterall, hadn’t you pointed your nose in the right direction? Rather than I deal with spectacular crap as other film makers do, you had looked at something here & now of absolute relevance to anybody in England with a brain still left let’s call it soul. I first tried very hard to listen to every word spoken in the flashbacks to Eliz. I. What were you saying? Eliz: ‘This vision exceedeth by far all expectation. Such an abstract never before I spied.’ And so she went on – fal de ray la lu lullay the day! And John Dee spoke ‘poetry’ according to Time Out (those old left overs from a radio programme, involving a panel of precocious Sixth formers, called “Cabbages & Kings”, whose maturity concerns being rather left from a position of safety) though even now I can remember no distinguishing phrase from amongst the drone, only the words, ‘Down down down’ (Right on)! And Ariel who flashed the sun in a mirror, & considered a diamond & had great contact lenses: ‘Consider the world’s diversity & worship it. By denying its multiplicity you deny your own true nature. Equality prevails not for god but for man’s sake.’ Consider that! What an insult to my VIRILITY! I am punk man! And as you use the valves you give to punks as a warning, am I supposed to see old Elizabeth’s england as some state of grace? Well, I’d rather consider that all this grand stuff and looking at diamonds is something to do with a gay (which you are) boy’s love of dressing up & playing at charades. (Does he have a cock between his legs or doesn’t he? Kinda thing)…

And so this response continues on to the back of the t-shirt, accompanied with a Union Jack. This is designer Vivienne Westwood’s lengthy 1978 response to British director Derek Jarman’s then-controversial film Jubilee, which was released in the same year. Soon to be shown as the opening film for the Walker’s “Commemorating Derek Jarman: Ideal and Ideas (Part 1)” this month, Jarman’s second feature film depicts a time-traveling Queen Elizabeth I thrown into a post-apocalyptic punk future.

The work commanded Westwood’s remarkable attention and vitriol, but that she responded so publicly to the film is perhaps less surprising when given some context. Not only did Jubilee’s young actor Jordan, in the role of the brazen punk protagonist Amyl Nitrate, work for Vivienne Westwood at the time (Jarman met Jordan behind the counter of Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s boutique on 430 Kings Road called Sex, later renamed Seditionaires), but historian Jim Ellis suggests that Jarman based Amyl Nitrate on Westwood – a none too flattering parallel perhaps.

Jordan in the role of 'Amyl Nitrate,' for Derek Jarman's Jubilee, 1978

Jordan in the role of Amyl Nitrate, for Derek Jarman’s Jubilee, 1978

Two years prior to the release of Jubilee, Jarman had acerbic words of his own, describing the British punk scene as comprising:

…petit bourgeois art students, who a few months ago were David Bowie and Bryan Ferry look-alikes – who’ve read a little art history and adopted some Dadaist typography and bad manners, and who are now in the business of reproducing a fake street credibility.

Jarman’s analysis that punk’s close relationship to fashion might be a compromising situation for its views on capitalism were, of course, made all the more explicit in Jubilee. A deeply ambivalent portrait of punk, Jubilee is admiring of the boldness of punk’s ire for establishment, and yet he is doubtful of how its binary politics might be achieved: either through sloganeering and violence or capitulation.

Indeed, the sloganeering and vernacular contained in the dialogue of Jubilee is paralleled with an endgame of capitalism. Just as Jordan ascribes to the phrase/song “Don’t dream it, be it,” the film’s dark impresario and record label producer Borgia Ginz pulls strings and flaunts his power that extends beyond his ownership of property and people, to an ownership of language. As Ginz declares, “BBC, TUC, ITV, ABC, ATV, MGM, KGB, C. of E. You name it, I bought them all… and rearranged the alphabet.”

In 1992, Westwood was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II.* Jarman noted the event in his diary:

Saturday 20

Vivienne Westwood accepts an OBE, dipsy bitch. The silly season’s with us: our punk friends accept their little medals of betrayal, sit in their vacuous salons and destroy the creative – like the woodworm in my dresser, which I will paint with insecticide tomorrow. I would love to place a man-sized insectocutor, lit with royal-blue, to burn up this clothes moth and her like.

Westwood and Jarman did not reconcile over the film or the t-shirt, and the filmmaker’s bitter journal entry recalls the words of the Ginz’s final summary, “they all sign up in the end!”

*In 2006, Westwood accepted an advanced order, the title of Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to the fashion industry.

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