Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Unusual Routes: Christmas on Earth

Barbara, with her hand in Dylan's hair
I discovered a new girl artist tonight.

This was because instead of biking home along my usual route, I went along Canal, which sucks to travel along.  It's all Robert Moses-ey and alienating and dangerous, especially in the dark.  But I needed to be on Canal to go to Boo-Hooray where they were having an exhibit/screening of Barbara Rubin's Christmas on Earth, and related Rubin ephemera.  Xmas on Earth is an experimental film that was once shown over a Velvet Underground performance in 1965.  Barbara Rubin, a precocious young New Yorker, made it when she was 17.  To say the film was erotic, would be an understatement.  But that's all blurred by its super artiness.

(To interject, curatorial cards in the exhibit reminded us viewers that the Rubin was working in an era in which a "money shot" in porn could get you arrested.  The audaciousness of this 17-year-old young woman is stunning.)

Barbara Rubin seems bold beyond her years.  Look at her above, tousling Bob Dylan's hair on the back of his record.  Supposedly, she introduced Ginsberg to Dylan--two boys who became far more famous than she, but who were far less brave in their art.  Even Ginsberg--can I just say it?

Rubin died at age 35 in childbirth in France.  She had become an orthodox Jew and wanted Christmas on Earth destroyed.  Anthology Film Archives hero and experimental filmmakerJonas Mekas, who had retrieved and kept the film, refused to do so.

This kind of thing, this kind of pain-in-the-ass detour from my usual route, is I want to keep doing into next year, Lara.

Here are Rubin's words:

so i spent 3 months chopping the hours of film up
into a basket
and then toss and toss
flip and toss
and one by one
Absently enchantedly Destined to splice it together
and separate on to two different reels
and then project one reel half the size
inside the other reel full screen size
and then i showed it
and someone tells me, 'my what a good editing job that is indeed!
          - Barbara Rubin, from "A P.S. to Christmas On Earth" (1966)

Still from Christmas on Earth

"I Hope I Don't Intrude"--the front door of Boo-Hooray

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