Renowned avant-garde film maker, Satanist, pop culture commentator and godfather of the sexual revolution, Kenneth Anger has just opened a new exhibition at Sprüth Magers in London. Featuring two of his better know works – Invocation Of My Demon Brother and Hollywood Babylon – which bring together many of the themes which run throughout much of his work.
Invocation Of My Demon Brother his seminal 1969 movie is a hypnotic montage of jarringly edited images, shifting intense colours and symbols with a repetitive synthesised soundtrack by Mick Jagger (IMHO the best thing he has ever done) . Marking the ominous turn the counter culture movement took in the late 60s it juxtaposes the Rolling Stones performing in Hyde Park, in memory of Brian Jones who died in the summer of 1969 with footage of Bobby Beausoleil (who was convicted of murdering the musician Gary Hinman, alongside the infamous Charles Manson, in 1970) as Lucifer, real life footage from Vietmnam, Anger himself performing fevered rituals, flashes of the novel Moonchild (1917) written by the influential occultist Aleister Crowley and brief shots of Marianne Faithfull, Anton LaVey, Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg. I have been a fan of this for quite a while and its influence can clearly be seen in a lot of the more avant-garde artists and rock groups out there today such as the amazing aural and visual feast that is Sunn 0))). Check it Out below.
Kenneth Anger’s work constitutes a radical critique of Hollywood, often evoking and referencing an iconography of contemporary pop culture within occult settings, and depicting youth counterculture in the midst of ‘magick’ rituals, violence and eroticism. Using a non-narrative style, Anger´s abstract films are highly symbolic and cinematic manifestations of his occult practices, exploring themes of ritualistic transformation. His films are imbued with a baroque splendour stemming from the heightened sensuality of an opulent use of colours and mystic imagery. Devoid of dialogue, the recurrent theme of music is immediately apparent in Anger’s visionary films which have earned him widespread acknowledgement as the pioneer of MTV and the music video.
Anger’s playful neon sign Hollywood Babylon (1975/2009) is part of a site specific installation exploring the artist’s longstanding fascination with the outrageous antics and sordid tales of old Hollywood detailed in his classic book Hollywood Babylon (1959/1975). Additional exhibition highlights include the photograph Lucifer (Leslie Huggins) taken from Anger’s epic film Lucifer Rising (1970-1981) featuring a further collaboration with Bobby Beausoleil who is unique in being the only musician to score a film while serving a life sentence.
Anger has amassed a cult following over the years. his work, whilst being very much of its time (although that’s kind of the point) is undeniably powerful, and even if it doesn’t resonate on an artistic level you cant fail to warm to its often kitschy charm. The exhibition os at Sprüth Magers in London until March 27th, you can also check out more of his films on YouTube if you want to find out more about him.