Thursday, 14 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 172: Wed June 20

Brand X (Chamberlain, 1970): Tate Modern, 6.30pm

This is an intriguing one. An experimental satire on TV made by artist, film maker and friend of Andy Warhol Wynn Chamberlain, this was presumed lost for many years. Tonight the film's director and star, Taylor Mead, will be on hand for a Q&A after the screening.

A New York Times feature by Rachel Wolff (the full version of which you can read here) gives some background to the film's history, which the writer describes as: "A satirical take on television, with fake programs and commercials, “Brand X” anticipated TV and movie comedies of the next decade like “Saturday Night Live,” “SCTV” and “The Kentucky Fried Movie,” though in a more absurdist vein and with a more political view."
Wolff added: "The film, which featured Abbie Hoffman, Sam Shepard, Sally Kirkland and the Warhol superstars Ultra Violet, Candy Darling and Taylor Mead, was released in 1970 in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. Vincent Canby endorsed it in The New York Times as “a tacky, vulgar, dirty, sometimes dull, often hilarious movie” with the tone of “a liberated college humor magazine.”
Here is the Tate's introduction to the evening's entertainment: Described by Jonas Mekas as ‘propaganda for the politics of joy and disorder’, Wynn Chamberlain’s Brand X is a cinematic masterpiece of 1960s counterculture that was almost lost until Chamberlain recently recovered the last surviving print. This special screening of the film is followed by a discussion with Chamberlain, Taylor Mead, cultural historian Steven Watson and Tate curator Stuart Comer. Starring a glittering array of celebrites, including Abbie Hoffman, Sally Kirkland, Taylor Mead, Sam Shepard and Ultra Violet, the film skewers the political sphere and the media through a series of faux TV skits inspired by a snowbound weekend spent watching television. Chamberlain’s previous attempt at filmmaking was sabotaged by house guest Andy Warhol, who appropriated Chamberlain’s cache of 16 mm film stock to make his renowned film Sleep (1963). His second effort, Brand X is an exuberant testament to the playfully political approach of the underground and its interface with an increasingly voracious mass media.


kadmos publishing said...

I was never an "acolyte" of Andy's - just a friend for a few years.

Wynn Chamberlain

Capital Celluloid said...

Duly noted - and amended.

kadmos publishing said...

Thank you!