MiniDV PAL,16:9, 3:00 min, (2006)
This is a remake of the Club scene in Michelangelo Antonioni's BLOW UP (1966). It was produced during a 2-week residency at Springhill Institute in Birmingham (UK), in September 2006. The shooting took place during one very long Saturday afternoon and featured more than 70 volunteers. Antonioni apparently took 5 days for the scene, and originally wanted The Who for the part of the band, but he could only get the Yardbirds. After the destruction of the guitar by Jeff Beck, Antonioni loops the song in order to continue the scene into the riot-in my remake, the video ends with the destroyed guitar, the video has now the same length as the original song from the soundtrack album.
Watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/31870860 or here: https://www.ubu.com/film/draeger_blow.html
The video is part of the trilogy The End Of The Remake, (2007-2008), comprised of
Blow Up, Stroll On (2006), My Generation (2007), Hippie Movie (2008)
The End of The Remake (Part 1-3)
A Project by Christoph Draeger, 2006/2007/2008
Now, at the age 40, I am finally turning my almost life-long interest for the époque of my birth, the mid-sixties, into a series of loosely connected artworks.
This stretch of time between 1965 and 1969 was probably one of the most turbulent and creative moments in the history of humankind, and it defined the shape of our societies today. The radical political turbulences expressed by the global anti-Vietnam movements and Black Power, the new found sexual freedom and the experiments with mind-expanding drugs, the explosion of new expressions in fashion and art - this first effective counterculture in history started with a few thousand students and spread globally, mostly through pop music. It successfully infiltrated the mainstream, at least for a short time. Rock music was the catalyst of the Cultural Revolution; radio stations the transmitter of the revolutionary virus.
The enormity of the task to create art work that reflects in a broad way upon these times (and the inevitable failure to do so) let me decide to focus upon three carefully chosen paradigmatical ‘scenes’ that, for me, somehow symbolize the rise and fall of this époque, that I like to call, by birthright, ‘my generation’. I chose to relive three specific moments, in order to enjoy and ironically simulate events that I often regretted not to have been an active part of.
Part 3. Hippie Movie: Homage to the Summer of Love of 1967
Part 3 will be the most complex and political part of the trilogy. During my residency at CCA (Center of Contemporary Art) in Warsaw, I plan to reenact with actors and volunteers aspects of the summer of love, one of the defining moments of the 60’s era that happened exactly 40 years ago in San Francisco and the US west coast. Poland in 1968, behind the Iron Curtain, of course didn’t enjoy anything like the summer of love at the time, so these reenactments will be more like a surreal, belated premiere. Compared to part 1 and 2, these remakes will be only loosely based on existing material, like film sequences from Andi Warhol’s Plastic Inevitable spectacles, or pop festivals like Monterey or Woodstock. In the coming months, I will assemble an archive with video clips, music, books, images and various other documents about the era. This collection will travel as a reference with me to Warsaw in order to be available for the participants of the project.
In Warsaw, I will try to collect documents and testimonies about what happened there at the time around 1967. I also plan to conduct interviews with witnesses of the era. Finally, different episodes, for ex. a folk concert in the park, a demonstration in the city centre (make-love-not-war), a club gig with rock band, dancers and psychedelic light show etc, will be storyboarded, casted, rehearsed and filmed. I plan to organize the shootings like happenings, even maybe parties, rather than strict filmmaking. However, the happenings will refer to actual events like the war in Iraq rather than Vietnam for ex.
The resulting film, shot in video and Super-8, will be half ‘mockumetary” about a fictious historical period, ironically reflecting political, social and cultural issues that seen to be rebouncing today (social injustice, un unjust war in Iraq, ecological concerns etc), half a hallucinatory, post-psychedelic visual trip.
Part 2. My Generation: in loving memory of Michel Ritter
A remake of the end of a typical show by the British band The Who. In 1965, The Who had a #2 hit with “My Generation”. Their live performances were notoriously intense. During one concert, Pete Townshend, the guitar player famous for his acrobatic stage show, accidentally hit his guitar on the ceiling of the club and broke it. As the audience went wild, the band proceeded to smash the rest of their equipment on stage. This orgy of destruction would become a fixed part of their stage shows that often ended with the song “My Generation”. At Monterey Pop Festival, Pete Townshend introduced the song with the words: “This is where it all ends...”. This show is the reference for the performance.
What struck me was the explosive power of the performance which seems to be expressing both, the revolutionary optimism and utopist spirit of this era and its foreseeable end, the dystopia of its (self-) destruction. The performance and video are commissioned and produced by müsée d'art Contemporain in Lyon, for the last exhibition curated by Michel Ritter, entitled "Une Question de Génération".
Part 1. Blow Up, Stroll On: in loving memory of Jeff Beck
This video consists in a remake of a scene in Antonioni’s Blow Up, where a band (the Yardbirds) is playing a wild beat song (Stroll On) in a club for an unmoved audience. The movie’s protagonists enters and forces himself through a unmoved crowd. Frustrated with a bad cable connection, the group’s guitar player smashes his guitar into the amplifier, then tramples on the instrument, completely shattering it. The destruction of the instrument and the ensuing chaos contrasts sharply with the painstakingly constructed scene (it took Antonioni five days to shoot the 3 minute scene), where extras are moved like pans on a checkerboard.
Our remake was re-enacted as closely as possible to the original scene - the entire club was being rebuilt in a studio, the extras and actors wore similar costumes, the acting and camera positions were closely followed. The piece was shot in Birmingham in September 2006 during a 2-week residency at Springhill Institute for Contemporary Art.