My Art, Madonna, Vin Diesel and Stanley Kubrick, Part 3 by Kyle Phoenix




I'm always interested in how to interpret Art, with a Big A and whether I'm doing it---though I think when you're really creating stuff, you're not that interested in discussing art and doing it, you want to more of discuss the creative process, the work in detail than art as a Self.  That's kind of how I always judge pretension when I'm (trapped) with a group of writers.  I was often in undergraduate college writing classes trapped with the most pretentious sometimes creative drivel and spurts of truly good Art lost to meandering, mental masturbation.  I think of this now as I write, having a conduit to getting just about all of my work published in some form or fashion.  I think of this as everyone has a level of access to the public audience sphere with the internet; I say this having survived a few Facebook writer's groups.

Okay, just as a side rant---vampires, zombies, werewolves, fairies, superheroes, magicians, detectives and varying combinations<<<Fifty Shades of Grey
(no, much like Harry Potter and Twilight and the Hunger Games---I have avoided all in print and film versions, barring long term hospitalization and an inability to roll my bed or chair away from screenings of such fare---I probably won't see them...though I kind of like Jennifer Lawrence....so maybe one day)---all three of hers) and the combinations pretty much fall into those areas.  I asked one group about their minority or LGBT characters and the silence was deafening and then the slow ebbing to the shores vitriol started.  But no real literature is being produced, no really good stuff.  (Game of Thrones ain't helping newbie White writers either...)
The ability to self publish has eliminated people truly working at an Art or a craft.  I thought this reading samples (and teaching writing classes) and thinking how it  took me a decade of constant writing to be good enough for my mentors to say, yes it would happen but not yet in my early twenties.  I remember a fellow student being immediately pushed by a mentoring professor to his own publishing house and I was referred to another professor, another school with a smaller publishing house.  I was good but I wasn't ready.  Though the other guy, married with kids had more life experience and from what I remember disease and poverty---just a shittier life than me---so maybe more Art.  Though I was ready a few years after that, I took my time, focusing on learning about business and honing a stronger writing voice, editing, dabbling in new things before I published a collection of short stories.

Now the Black folk it's more of relationship based---men and women and sometimes tawdry relationships or wrestling with the church.  There's often four women going through this (Terry McMillan ruined the number of friends one needs in a book and Sex In The City sure as hell didn't help...God save us if the amateur writer discovers Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls...) and some sort of wrongness with the men.  Now LGBT minority fiction goes all hog wild mixing up the same combinations just more oral sex and romantic yearnings from the writer's....ooops, I mean main characters.  It always works out with pith and hearts and flowers.  It's escapist fantasy work.  Nothing wrong with that, just not literature.

A few years ago I met a fellow Columbia University student while volunteering to be interviewed by elementary through high school students who was working on her thesis with Marc Lamont Hill, a professor at CU, on ghetto novels.  She was a very nice blonde haired White woman.  We had a great discussion about her work and the vision of fiction and writing that she was researching.  She'd read literally all of this genre of books and was essentially doing her project on what this meant/said about Black culture and culture as a whole.  Ill admit---I think to fall strictly into that genre---I've read maybe a handful, though I have often thought about with a more expansive budget could I use some of those books to get some of my more urban students to read more.

Then I was watching an interview of Madonna...I know, right---where is he going with this?  And she was talking about "her Art" and I was like....hmm, exactly what IS her Art?  I mean yes, there's the music and the dancing but there's so much more---writing, lyrics, performance....and I got to thinking maybe it was the Art of Identity (Changing/Presentation).  Now one my favorite Madonna works is Nothing Really Matters, particularly the video the incorporates Japanese themes.


The music video was directed by Johan Renck and filmed in January 1999 at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, New York. The kimono Madonna wore in the video had been created by Jean-Paul Gaultier, who would later design Madonna's geisha-inspired costumes on her Drowned World Tour in 2001. Madonna later re-used the look of the video for her performance at the 41st Grammy Awards in February 1999.

According to a behind-the-scenes interview with Entertainment Tonight, Madonna stated that the inspiration behind the video was from the 1996 novel Memoirs of a Geisha. Madonna later stated; "The whole idea of a geisha is a straight metaphor for being an [entertainer] because, on one hand you're privileged to be a geisha, but on the other hand you're a prisoner [...]" Madonna also choreographed her own moves on the video, as she stated "I don't like how other people say how I should move, I'm my own best choreographer."
Synopsis

The video opens with an empty room with a fish painting, then shows Madonna holding to what looks like a baby but is actually a bag of water meant to symbolize all that is materialistic, and alternately in a red and black kimono dancing to the song.Then, a scene features a group of white-clad Swedes of Asian heritage, who walk down a dark hallway. As Madonna sings the song in a black kimono, she grips onto the bag of water.

When the chorus starts, it features Madonna in a red kimono while dancing to the song. Scene's like this carry on through the rest of the song. There are multiple scenes of Japanese people dancing to the song, performing butoh dance moves while it was shot in the decommissioned R1 Reactor below the Royal Institute of Technology in central Stockholm. The ending scene has Madonna sitting while someone is painting her back and slowly rests her body on the group. It finishes with Madonna in her red kimono walking towards the camera as it slowly descends away from her.







I actually featured the video and butoh dancers and dancing on The Kyle Phoenix TV Show (I also did several other unaired episodes, one was on Beyonce's video Get Me Bodied and it's relationship to the Rich Man's Fug from Sweet Charity and Bob Fosse's work) because I was so fascinated by it as a complete musical and video concept.  I've done some performance art---in a variety of clothing, male and female, and nudity in a concept piece of Fascism Vs. Fashion and the inter-relationship.  Maybe I'll redo it, it was quite interesting.  One would think that in a small city like Buffalo that would've been my most outlandish production...but it wasn't.  I'm very straitlaced....today but there was a time when I had to experiment with stuff.  Amazingly enough I actually produced a long form video titled Erotica before Madonna's Erotica came out and a film, The World Today (yes, named after Janet Jackson's song) that was great in concept, some filming but never went anywhere.  

However I'm easing in on at least or five more film projects in the next decade that I want to produce and direct...as I try to understand what my Art truly is.  I suppose as I write fiction (and even non-fiction) I do think about whether it translatable to a visual medium.  I recently watched Room 237 about Stanley Kubrick and The Shining, one of my favorite films---and now a true mindfuck film, as there are not one, not two, not three, not seven but perhaps 12 or more levels that man was working on in presenting that film.  Room 237 was so illuminating to stuff I completely missed that Kubrick did intentionally and stuff I caught glimpses of that it inspired me, as all Art will, to consider how to film one of my novels coming out, Hush.  Suddenly I had deep glimpses of how I could translate it---for you know---$10 million on a tight budget.  Then of course there's a film/screenplay I've been toying with for years, The Veil and another untitled film around sexuality, inspired by when I met Vin Diesel back when he was a bouncer.  I saw him a few years later at a movie screening and it sort of solidified to me that I should write up that script.  I doubt Vin will be in it---but if you know him, have him call my people! :) (Actually I know someone who dated him so I could probably, with some effort, call him myself with some effort.)

I've been painting too, just messy, messy paintings but interesting.  I have some pencil sketches that are interesting.  I explore my Art trying to narrow down what it is, all of the pieces its to become---let's not even get into my study in music and the songs I dream that I cant write down because I'm just learning to identify notes and chords.  It's a tapestry, a tapestry.

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