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Wait for Me at the Bottom of the Pool: The Writings of Jack Smith

Overview

During thirty years of astonishing activity as a filmmaker, photographer, and performer, Jack Smith produced a body of creative, antic writing that intersects and transcends the genres of hothouse fantasy, criticism, and social comment. Bringing together long unavailable essays, performance scripts, interviews, and other material, Wait for Me at the Bottom of the Pool reveals the ideas and personality of an artist whose distinctive vision has influenced generations of filmmakers...
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Overview

During thirty years of astonishing activity as a filmmaker, photographer, and performer, Jack Smith produced a body of creative, antic writing that intersects and transcends the genres of hothouse fantasy, criticism, and social comment. Bringing together long unavailable essays, performance scripts, interviews, and other material, Wait for Me at the Bottom of the Pool reveals the ideas and personality of an artist whose distinctive vision has influenced generations of filmmakers and performance artists.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A vividly eccentric and entertaining posthumous collection of essays, interviews, scripts, cartoons, and fragmentary jottings from one of the granddaddies of American avant-garde filmmaking.

Best known for the underground (and much banned) classic Flaming Creatures, Smith possessed a highly original, camp- inflected aesthetic that inspired everyone from Andy Warhol to Robert Wilson. Consider his synopsis of the grand finale of his film Sinbad in the Rented World: "In the confusion of the climatic [sic] roach stampede, the Lobster in his final priestly disguise with the forehead-earring of exoticism in his back pocket, is drowned in Plaster Lagoon and now is hardened over." As this illustrates, Smith's work was informed by a unique, gnomic argot and set of stylized obsessions bordering on fetishism. Hoberman (film critic for the Village Voice) and Leffingwell (curator for an exhibition about Smith that will open this spring) helpfully provide a kind of field guide to this world where "Lobsters" are greedy landlords, "mynah birds" are imitators, and the phrase "scum of Bagdad" is a term of high praise. But the queen of Smith's universe was the 1940s B-movie actress Maria Montez. Not only did she "feature" in many of Smith's films, she also inspired his aesthetic theories. In a seminal 1962 essay, included here, Smith turns the conventions of Hollywood film upside down. Naturalistic acting ("reptilian acting") is bad; bad acting is good; visuals are everything and script/dialogue only get in the way; and kitsch is noble and uplifting. Though the issues it raises are far from settled, this ringing defense of "pure cinema" anticipates not only Pop Art but postmodernism as well. Much of the rest of this collection is either a reiteration or an elaboration of these core theories.

Smith is perhaps too obscure for the general movie-going public, but as these pieces ably demonstrate, he is an important part of the American avant-garde tradition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781852424282
  • Publisher: Consortium Book Sales & Dist
  • Publication date: 5/28/1997
  • Series: High Risk Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.02 (w) x 8.03 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Table of Contents

Capitalism of Lotusland 11
"Jack Smith: Bagdada and Lobsterrealism" Introduction by J. Hoberman 14
The Perfect Filmic Appositeness of Maria Montez 25
The Memoirs of Maria Montez or Wait For Me at the Bottom of the Pool 37
Belated Appreciation of V.S. 41
Journal Notes on Normal Love 45
Normal Love 51
The Astrology of a Movie Scorpio 54
Journal #191-192: "I knew he would never come to me..." 59
Red Orchids: Pfeffernus Flavored Aspirin; Pasty Thighs; The Great Moldy Triumph 61
The White Pig of the Medina 73
"The Adorable and Pasty Creatures...": Journal Notes on the Uses of Pornography 77
Lobotomy in Lobsterland 81
Rehearsal for the Destruction of Atlantis 90
Ammonia Pits of Atlantis: Evil in the Art World, or Walter Versus the Giant Knick Knacks 97
Taboo of Jingola 102
Uncle Fishook and the Sacred Baby Poo-Poo of Art 107
Penguin Panic in the Rented Desert 123
What's Underground About Marshmallows? 137
Grant Application 145
Jack Smith Film Enterprises, Inc 149
Statements, "Ravings", and Epigrams 151
Soundtrack of Blonde Cobra 157
O David 164
Actavistic, Action Packed, Action Acting of PFA: Hamlet and the 1001 Psychological Jingoleanisms of Prehistoric Landlordism of Rima-Puu 165
Selected annotated bibliography 169
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