A Hyper-Camp Drama for the Digital Era from Casey Spooner, Adam Dugas and Michael Stipe
“I have a spa fetish, and this scene is based on a honey treatment I did at Liquidrom, an amazing coed naked spa in Berlin,” gushes Casey Spooner of today’s clip of Dust, the feature-length that he wrote and directed with his creative and romantic partner of 13 years, Adam Dugas. Spooner, frontman for electro-pop duo Fischerspooner, and Dugas, co-founder of performance troupe The Citizens Band, envisioned their debut film as a Skype-age re-telling of Chekov’s Three Sisters: in this case, cohabiting dysfunctional siblings collude and collide as they wrestle with their individual dramas. The cast includes Ssion’s Cody Critcheloe, artist and photographer Jaimie Warren, and fashion designer Peggy Noland, plus Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn as the family matriarch. “In the tradition of early John Waters and the films Warhol made at the Factory with Paul Morrissey, Dust defines its own era by reveling in and rolling around in the 21st century’s sadness, audacity and flashpoint laugh-out-loud directness,” says R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, who produced the tragi-comic collaborative effort. Based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where they live with their cats, a Douglas Coupland painting and a Dracula lithograph, Spooner and Dugas have previously helmed documentary portraits for ImagineFashion and contributed to The New York Times’ T Magazine. Premiering at Art Basel Miami 2014 this evening, their feature will be digitally streamed on multiple platforms powered through Dust.VHX.tv.
How did you come to cast Superstar Holly Woodlawn?
Casey Spooner: I got a message on Facebook from Holly Woodlawn saying, “I love your work, will you be my friend?” Adam was like, “Oh my God, Holly should play the mother!”
AD: She was in her apartment in West Hollywood as we filmed her. She never actually met any of the other actors. We were Skype communicating.
CS: She’s acting to a blank screen with voices coming out. It’s like Hollywood glamour via new digital technology. The new soft focus is digital break-up.
How did Michael Stipe get involved in the film?
CS: We knew the technical side of things but we had no connections to PR, financing, release, legal, distribution. We thought, ‘Who do we know who knows about the film business?’ So we reached out to Michael. He was very discouraging when we first approached him. He was like, “Don’t go into the film business. It’s over, like the music business. Give up. Retreat.” We sent him a rough cut anyway.
AD: A couple months later he came back to us saying, “Oh by the way, did I tell you that I finally saw your film? I think it’s amazing.” He said he really wanted to get involved.
You recently made a video Subliminal Alchemy for Modern Weekly China with photographer Asger Carlsen in advance of a new Fischerspooner album. You shot with a real snake, right?
CS: An Albino Burmese python named Banana that was 10 feet long. It was my brilliant idea. Cyril Duval, aka designer and artist Item Idem, asked if I wanted to do a shoot for them. The new album is very erotic and I sent through a bunch of Tumblr images as references, some pornography, basically all about the male form and a lot of nudity. One of my references had this big snake. Cyril was like, “Let’s do the snake.” I had shot with a snake before for New York magazine and had a great experience. This snake had never been on set before and the handlers were inexperienced. So, I had kind of a grumpy snake experience.
Surrealistic Felines Cascade to the Beat of the Cosmic Australian Trio
If you are a dog person, look away, as an oddball troupe of cats strut to the sound of Midnight Juggernauts’ “Systematic.” Taken from the Melbourne band’s third album Uncanny Valley, the track gets its musical cues from the stardust-sprinkled harmonies of Electric Light Orchestra, providing a driving backing to this bizarre collection of furry friends. French director duo Mrzyk & Moriceau recently made an explosive phallic fantasy for Parisian electronic act Jackson & His Computerband, and have carried their signature hyper-pop stylings to today’s Division-produced romp. “They had an idea to throw dozens of cats around and we were curious to see how they could do that without offending animal cruelty groups,” says the band’s keyboardist Vincent Vendetta. “My initial reaction to the video was to laugh throughout—and obviously no animals were harmed.” Midnight Juggernauts are fresh from touring their native Australia—a jaunt that featured a trip through the crocodile country of Darwin and a marriage proposal on stage in Sydney—and plan to visit Europe early next year. In the meantime the three will attend to their corresponding pets. “Dan [Stricker] has a rabbit and Andy [Szekeres] has a sausage dog,” says Vendetta. “I have a cat that I think inspired one of the animals in the video; I bought him a mini drum kit, which I make him play when I’m lonely.”
Japan’s Polka-Dot Pioneer on a Life at the Mercy of Her Art
“She says that if she doesn’t paint she wouldn’t exist,” says Martín Rietti of his latest subject, 84-year-old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. “Her work has an authenticity that I don’t often see in contemporary art.” The Argentinian director visited Kusama at her studio in Tokyo ahead of her latest show that opens at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, curated by Deputy Chief Curator of MALBA, Philip Larratt-Smith, and Francis Morris, who curated her retrospective at the Tate in 2012. This first major retrospective in Latin America opens tomorrow before traveling to four other cities in South and Central America over the next year and a half. It leads the viewer through over 100 works created between 1950 and the present day, spanning her early period in Japan, 15-year stint in New York where she befriended fellow artists Georgia O’Keeffe, Donald Judd and Joseph Cornell, and her return to Tokyo, where she has been living voluntarily in a psychiatric clinic since 1977. “Her work is not only a revelation of her inner psychic reality but also a sort of time capsule of the emancipatory and utopian moment of the late 1960s,” says Larratt-Smith. “She is a very seductive person, secretive and charming. When she speaks the obsessive cast of her mind becomes immediately clear: she talks in circles, often repeating the same thing many times. It is clear that she has deep psychic wounds, but also that her work sustains her and keeps her going.”