” I believe it was Steven who actually initiated hippie dress in San Francisco, before it was fashionable.”
San Francisco Artist
“We are just waking up to the new age and the ancient teachings. We can collect, cross-reference and compute these teachings into one ever-changing structure. Finding the forms to communicate our collections is the key.”
WHAT: SCREEN FROM BARCELONA FESTIVAL
WHEN: THURSDAY, JANUARY 19WHERE: Palau de la Virreina
SESSION 4 : QUEER SURREALISM (I)
Presentation by James Boaden
Screenings: Steven Arnold, The Liberation of Mannique Mecanique, (1967,15 min., mute)
+ Luminous Procuress (1971,74 min., V.O.S.)
Taking as a starting point Cahun’s relation to surrealism, this session explores, what could be called “queer Surrealism” in the films of Steven Arnold. Photographer and filmmaker, Arnold created, in the early 70’s, movies with wild, bizarre and psychedelic worlds, in which the actors blurred the gender boundaries. Protected and influenced by Salvador Dalí (who invited the actors of the film at the opening of his museum in Figueres), his works share with Cahun the use of masquerade and the subversion of gender identities using sharply surreal resources. At the same time, the figure of Arnold links surrealism with the work of renowned contemporary artists like Mike Kelley and Ryan Trecartin. Proposed and conducted by James Boaden, this session meticulously weaves multiple references, materials and time frames.
Steven’s film Messages, Messages, which won him an invitation to the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival, has been included in the DIRTY LOOKS, NYC Roadshow, as part of the exhibition Female Trouble, which explores gender identity on film using examples spanning 5 decades.
SHOW DATES FOR DIRTY LOOKS’ FEMALE TROUBLE:
2/16/12 LOS ANGELES, CA: HUMAN RESOURCES GALLERY
2/21/12 PORTLAND, OR: PACIFIC NORTHWEST COLLEGE OF ART
2/23/12 PORTLAND, OR: GRAND DETOUR
This rarely seen set of photographs, influenced by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, was created for After Dark magazine April, 1979. After Dark was an entertainment magazine that covered theatre, cinema, stage plays, ballet, performance art, and various artists, including singers, actors, and dancers, among others.
Steven’s films The Liberation of Mannique Mechanique and Luminous Procuress are to be shown as a part of the ongoing Screen from Barcelona festival.
Below is a review of Luminous Procuress by film historian and critic Albert Johnson:
“The creation of a personal dream-world in cinematic terms seems to have been the aim of film maker Steven Arnold. Mr. Arnold studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and received an M.S. in Filmmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1970. His short films have all been beautiful, visual experiments in color and mysterious settings where mythological creatures are given a celluloid life of their own.
Mr. Arnold’s medium-length film, Messages, Messages, attracted a great deal of critical attention when it was shown during the New Directors section of the Cannes Film Festival, and it was linked by the French critics to the fanciful, cinema reveries of Cocteau or Fellini. If Steven Arnold admires the work of these filmmakers, his work does not imitate them, and his first feature, Luminous Procuress is an altogether extraordinary, individualistic phantasmagoria.
[Luminous Procuress] was filmed entirely in San Francisco over a two-year period, and describes the adventures of two wandering youths in San Francisco who visit the home of a mysterious woman, the Procuress. She is an elegant emblem of sorcery, her vivid features glowing under bizarre, striking maquillage, and one is not certain who she is or where she intends to lead the protagonists. Although the language she speaks is vaguely Russian, it appears that the Procuress has psychic powers. She discerns a sympathetic response to her on the part of the youths, and by magical means, conducts them through fantastic rooms, on a psychic journey. Through strange passageways, one voyages with the Procuress and her charges, glimpsing hidden nightmares and panoplied chambers of revelry, where celebrants, ornately festooned, dance and make love before unseen gods.
The youths are soon drawn into the sensuality of the Procuress’ spellbound kingdom, and one is reminded of the sorceress-neighbor to Guilietta in Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits. Only here, in Arnold’s film, the spectator is a willing participant in some unspeakably attractive but menacing ecstasy. The sexes become androgynous and one remains entranced by the wonder of such a film as Luminous Procuress.”