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The Bunker is pleased to present the legendary underground film Flaming Creatures directed by Jack Smith. Flaming Creatures, shot in the Bronx, officially premiered at the Bleecker Street Cinema in Greenwich Village, New York in 1963. John Giorno attended this premiere with his then-lover, Andy Warhol, and describes the experience in his memoir, Great Demon Kings. The police raided the theater and confiscated the film which was subsequently banned in 22 states.  The raid put the film and Smith into the spotlight.  The film’s banning became part of the censorship battle being fought in the U.S. at that time. Downtown luminaries like Jonas Mekas, Susan Sontag and Allen Ginsberg came to the film and director’s defense. In 1989, Penny Arcade and J. Hoberman had the film restored.  Described by Smith as "a comedy set in a haunted music studio," Flaming Creatures went against the norms of both society and filmmaking, becoming a radical example that inspired other artists and filmmakers like Andy Warhol and John Waters. Smith didn’t use a narrative; the sets and special effects were homemade; and the actors were non-professionals. It’s significance today is based on Smith’s vision to foreground fluidity of gender, sexuality, and identity at a time when these subjects were rarely addressed.

Jack Smith’s Apartment, filmed in 1990 by MM Serra, was shot urgently on a borrowed camera, days after the death of the legendary Jack Smith. MM Serra’s documentary records for posterity the sumptuous handmade beauty of Smith’s Arabesque décor in the ongoing art project of his home, where the phantasmagoric sets for his films were constructed. Penny Arcade narrates biographical details and romantic memories of Smith while the camera tours from room to room, examining nooks and artifacts in loving tribute to his life and legacy.

 

Program:

MM Serra, Jack Smith's Apartment, 1990 (digital, 8 min)

Jack Smith, Flaming Creatures, 1963 (digital, 43 min)

 

Program curated by Julia Curl.

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