Tilda Swinton in The Last of England
directed by Derek Jarman
photo courtesy of BFI
BFI SouthBank season = Feb/March
BFI SouthBank season = Feb/March
Pandemonium = A very noisy place; Wild uproar and chaos; Capital of Hell in Paradise Lost; Wild confusion; A place or scene of turmoil, disorder; tumult...
At the end of my visit to Derek Jarman: Pandemonium, I asked Mark Turner, the curator of the exhibition if there were any links to Kenneth Anger and Aleister Crowley. I was reassured its connections were only because Jarman studied Anglo-Saxon, the Hieroglyphic Monad, Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern periods, but he had no interest in satanic celebrations or immature / mockery sacrifices. As a teenager entering King’s College in 1960, Jarman was art director of the student magazine Lucifer, but rapidly transcended his interests with beauty and light.
Pandemonium concentrates on two aspects of Jarman’s life = from his student days at King’s / his undergraduate education in early 60’s and his experience of living in warehouses with contemporaries including Andrew Logan and Keir Smith at Bankside and Butler’s Wharf along the Thames in the 70’s. It was on the South Bank that he first made his Super 8 films, before Caravaggio and Edward II. London was his backdrop, his subject of studies, using his Super 8 as a form of painting.
Jarman loved words. He had a delicate handwriting and wrote as part of a ritual. He loved books and read constantly till his final days. The first room contains Jarman’s reading material = medieval occultist Dr John Dee, Shakespeare’s sonnets, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, Beat Allen Ginsberg, esoteric historian Frances Yates.
Also in the first room = Death Dance, the first of Jarman’s Super 8 film. A tribute to his love of architecture “My own interest in architecture was historical; and I had had Nikolaus Pevsner as a tutor at King’s... we would travel to the cathedrals – Lincoln, Winchester, Canterbury – and we spent the entire day leaving no stone unturned.”: London in derelict, a pavilion, a medieval dance macabre performed with ritual and symbolism... handsome young naked boys meeting their fate... fire, light, mirrors and reflection.
Each passage from a room to a corridor to another room is punctuated by recurrent contrasted symbols - a circle with a dot, triangle, cross, semi circle - were created by John Dee in the XVI century = claro / obscuro; water / fire; sun / moon.
Corridor = Garden of Luxor (1973) is a dream-like of evocative images of light, reflection, water / Egyptian pyramids, the Sphinx, horses, whipping, flies, warriors, a garden in Luxor...
Another room = Poster of his films Sebastiane and Jubilee. Both films have a soundtrack by Brian Eno. Music was important to Jarman. He listened to “the monks of Solemnes, not Cliff Richard”. On arrival, you will be given a headphone providing a range of tracks from Medieval incantory music to sounds from his collaborators = Cyclobe, Simon Fisher Turner, Coil... (Jarman also directed videos – undisplayed - for Marc Almond, The Smiths, Pet Shop Boys, etc)
A film = Studio Bankside. All of his friends in the warehouse, cactuses, skulls, view on the Thames, naked men...
A display on his epistolary correspondence-interview with Andrew Logan with its print on Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine in 1974. Jarman to Logan “Is London exciting or plain dead” “It’s plain dead, but I love funerals”. The page interview has references to Cocteau, Rabelais (which I refer to on my first post), An American In Paris, Ossie Clark, St Raphael, Tahiti, David Hockney...
Last room = Last of England (1987) = an installation projected simultaneously onto five screens. A meditation on the state of a nation in late 80’s and shot around the abandoned Millenium Mills in the Royal Docks of London East End. Jarman engages with London landscape = urban ruination, a legacy of an empire and the power of state. Jarman learnt he was HIV in 1986 and the film is about his rage at the Thatcher government homophobic and inadequate response to AIDS “Queer people should demand equality in all aspects of life; legally binding unions, the right to bring up children...a bill to outlaw homophobia in the media... deletion of anti-queer statements in the Bible...” the film represents his family roots as he was an RAF’s son = footage of RAF planes, drug addiction, Maze Prison... and Tilda Swinton, his muse, with long hair in a wedding dress.
SPECIAL SCREENING = The Last of England / 1987. Dir. Derek Jarman / Thursday 6 March 2014 at 7pm / Anatomy Lecture Theatre, King's College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS + 1 March & 7 March @ BFI SouthBank
This reconstructed “chaos” is a perfect excuse to discover or re-discover Derek Jarman early work; a man who fiercely defended his views and opinions; who bravely told the world of his HIV disease; a non-hermetic creator who opened his unashamed occult doors to his knowledge; a free innovative spirit and ecclectic artist who only excluded the bigots. A man with an immense sense of community/collaborative and daring in touch with humour and his destruction/creation values. A character who bears similarities to Michael Clark perhaps...
Derek Jarman: Pandemonium marks the 20th anniversary of Jarman’s death from an HIV-related illness.
Derek Jarman (31 January 1942 - 19 February 1994) was a student of humanities at King’s from 1960 to 1963, He went on to become one of the most important creative practitioners of his generation and a crucial voice in gay politics in Britain. Painter, filmmaker, set designer, diarist, poet, gardener, activist – Jarman’s work across many areas that you will also (re)discover in the exhibition’s space.
Most italics in this post are taken from Jarman words from a tiny book you will receive. It has been created by Mark Turner and designed by Martin McGrath and Sam Ashby, authors of Little Joe, a magazine with a focus on queer cinema.
Derek Jarman: Pandemonium / Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, Strand, London WC2R 2LS / 23 January – 9 March 2014 / Times: Daily, 12.00 – 18.00 (until 20.00 on Thursdays) / Admission: Free / Presented by the Cultural Institute at King’s / Curated by Mark Turner, Professor of English, King’s College London / Design by Martin McGrath and Sam Ashby (Little Joe) / www.kcl.ac.uk/cultural / twitter: @CulturalKings /facebook.com/CulturalKings
A continuous 24 hour screening of The Angelic Conversation (1985) in King’s College chapel on Jarman’s birthday (31 January) followed the next day by a symposium in which various specialists in mediaeval, film and queer studies, discuss the work = Friday 31 January, 7pm – Saturday 1 February 2014, 7pm (continuous 24-hour screening) / King's College London Chapel, Strand, London WC2R 2LS / Free entry – no booking required
Derek Jarman elsewhere =
BFI South Bank season/Feb/March 2014 = Queer Pagan Punk: Derek Jarman part one: Jarman and the Occult = https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/default.asp?BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=derekjarman
DEREK JARMAN AT THE V&A = Saturday 8 March, 12.00 – 16.00 = A day of events to celebrate the creative output of filmmaker Derek Jarman, looking at hiswork as well as the V&A’s collections from his unique perspective. Free, drop in.
Related to Derek Jarman = Display @ V&A = SHAKESPEARE: Greatest Living Playwright / 8 February – 28 September 2014 / To celebrate the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, this display examines the enduring influence and popularity of the world's most famous playwright. FREE
More pix on FB = https://www.facebook.com/babylondon.orbital
Stalk the twit on = https://twitter.com/bbldnrbtl - fresh videos