Friday, 31 July 2015

Art Imitating Life Imitating Brecht & Tarkovsky

Life imitating art; it probably does it all the time, but not usually twice in one morning, as it did to me today. Obviously, when you see a melting clock on the branch of a tree you'll think of Dali. That man with the apple stuck to his face? Magritte. And so on. I've never actually seen life imitating a painting as far as I can recall. Living in London, you'd think I'd be seeing scenes that have been depicted all the time, providing they're modern paintings, but the snag is I don't look at modern paintings of London. And I've never seen the Thames looking like Whistler painted it. We know art (painting) consciously imitates modern life sometimes. I don't make a point of looking at those kinds of paintings either. Unless the depiction is imbued with an original vision, just take a photo. If it is an original vision, it won't be imitating life at all. That's that sorted out.

Perhaps abstract painting can imitate a state of mind. Pollock: confusion. Rothko: calm. Is that too simplistic? The Rothko Chapel in Houston is 'a rallying place for all people concerned with peace, freedom, and social justice throughout the world.' That's nice, isn't it? I'd rather go to the Pollock Chapel, though, where I imagine Be-Bop playing all day whilst everyone gets pissed at the bar (altar) before throwing paint around. Still, the Chapel inspired some beautiful music by Morton Feldman...

...where was imitating art? There must have been times when I thought 'It's just like _________ (film)!', but I can't recall any, except the night I found myself in the back of a cab on the way to sell guns and started praising the power of a Magnum .45...oh, and years ago, rolling around in bed with Julie Christie, I thought 'Bloody hell, this is just like Don't Look Now!'. Apart from that. Until this morning...

I've just started reading Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Novel, in which the business of Mr Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum is described. It involves fitting up customers with false limbs and trolleys so they can look like pitiful beggars and earn more money. So I'm watching the breakfast news this morning when a report comes on about some beggars not being homeless, the implication being that they're con men (and some women, presumably). The presenter asks if this suggests the possibility of organised crime, kind of begging cartels. You see the similarity. Then, the migrant 'swarm' heading for the UK. Watching footage of all those fences on the French side of the tunnel at night and people crawling through them I immediately thought of Tarkovsky's Stalker, which we started watching again last night. The wire fences...railway tracks and guards ushering would-be illegals immigrants out of the compounds. I wonder if any, whilst clinging to the top of a lorry, have thought 'This reminds me of Stalker...I hope Dover is better than The Zone...'. Probably not. 


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