poetryrepairs 15,06:065

NORMAN J OLSON:thoughts on the movie Dark Star and the life and art of HR Giger
NORMAN J OLSON: on visiting the HR Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland

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NORMAN J OLSON
thoughts on the movie Dark Star and the life and art of HR Giger

a new movie called Dark Star will be opening in the US in May and June 2015... the movie is a documentary made during the last months of the life of HR Giger, the Swiss surreal/ fantastic artist... Giger who was in his 70s, died suddenly of a fall in his home on May 12, 2014... I have admired his work ever since I first encountered it in the pages of the old Penthouse tittie magazine back in the late 1970s or early 1980s…

about a year ago, I decided to go to Zurich for the May 30,2014, memorial service for Giger… I flew from my daughter’s house in Los Angeles to Zurich... I was lucky enough to fly first class, so had a steak as we flew across the eastern seaboard and then enjoyed several movies… I found the one about the band Pearl Jam to be especially interesting, Pearl Jam Twenty, I think it was called... Pearl Jam has been around for 20 years?! Yikes??! Wednesday morning, coming in to ZRH, I saw off to the right, the jagged snow peaks of the Alps sticking up through the floor of clouds in brilliant sunlight, a spectacular sight... from the airport, I took one of the fast and very efficient Swiss trains from the airport train station to Geneva… the train ride to Geneva is very relaxing and picturesque... with a patchwork of green fields and fat cows grazing on the sides of large hills and mountains... then along Lake Geneva, a thousand feet up the hill looking down at the lake as the towns and villages go by… into Lausanne and then Geneva Cornavin Station…

there I met my friend, underground poet Harry Wilkens who lives in Geneva and who had offered me his floor to sleep on... I was pretty wrecked from all the hours of travel, from California to Geneva, so we just sat and talked for the afternoon on Wednesday and I went to bed early… on Thursday, we went for a long walk around Geneva which is a very nice city to walk around… we stopped for lunch at a McDonalds where Harry got his favorite, the Big Tasty and then we went to a movie that Harry had been wanting to see... a twisted Hollywood tragedy, about twisted Hollywood rich people that was certainly thought provoking on the subjects of morality and wealth... which we talked about as we walked past the row of Ferraris and Rolls Royces parked in front of the Four Seasons Hotel... along the waterfront where the river, I think Harry said it was the Rhone, runs out of the lake... there is a promenade for several miles along the waterfront with large expensive hotels across the street and a tree shaded walking path with ice cream shops and many people walking as it was a lovely sunny day…

after a couple hours strolling along the waterfront, we went back to Harry’s place and I had another comfortable night’s sleep on a mattress on the floor... on Friday, we caught the early train which took a scenic route back to Zurich along several lakes and a spa area where again, the scenery was very nice and tranquil with fine prosperous looking farms, towns and villages… the train from Zurich to Geneva takes about three hours and as we got to within an hour of Zurich, the language on the signs changed from French to German and the language of the people who got on the train became more German than French…

we got off the train at the Zurich main station, and walked down the street to Fraumunster Church where the memorial service was to be held... and after scoping that out, walked around the old town section of Zurich for a while... then Harry had a coffee and I had a sparkling water at a bar just across the street from the church…

about 45 minutes before the start of the service, we went to the door of the church where people were beginning to gather... I briefly met the friend who had invited me to the service… Harry and I then went inside for the service which was mostly in German, so I did not understand much of what was said, but I could imagine the words and feel the sadness of death in this huge and very full old church... at the front of the church was a large picture of the artist flanked by tall arrangements of hundreds of red roses and we were told that at the end of the service, everyone in attendance could come forward and get a rose... so we sat for a while and Harry explained to me most of what the speakers had said and then when the line got short, we picked up our roses…

we had been invited to join friends and family at a coffeeshop afterwards, but by time we ot there the place was pretty much full and since I was feeling stressed we said our goodbyes to the person who had invited us and left... I am not sure why I was so stressed, but sometimes when traveling, well, and sometimes when not traveling too, I suffer from what has been diagnosed as “situational anxiety disorder”... there seems to be no medical treatment that works for this… I once tried a medication prescribed by a doctor but had a really terrible reaction to the med, so now, I just try to find calm and all is okay... although, I have difficulty sleeping, which is unpleasant... either the memorial, the travel, jet lag, or other factors probably all together had me feeling uncomfortable and anxious... so Harry and I left for a stroll around the old town… stopping at the Cabaret Voltaire, birthplace of Dada, where Harry had an absinthe and I had another sparkling water... then we found a small Turkish restaurant where we had doner while I had a soda and Harry had a beer…

I said my goodbyes to Harry at the train station and while he headed back to Geneva, I went to the airport... there I spent the night in a transit room and caught a flight back to Minneapolis the next morning…

since then, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the art of HR Giger…

trying to decide for myself, what I mean when I say I like Giger’s work... I mean, I obviously like the verisimilitude of the images, the marvelous imitation of three dimensions, air and texture... that he created with his airbrush... I like the fact that he incorporated the nude figure in new and what I found to be provocative ways and that he was not afraid of sexual images... I like the idea of the film Dark Star having a psychologist discuss the images and art works because I believe that Giger’s works function on a very preconscious level for me…

I look at the works and am moved by them and compelled to come back to the images again, even thought to my conscious mind, the images are enigmatic and I could not tell you what they “mean…” this is perhaps the only point of tangency between my own art and Giger\s... I too am an intuitive artist... work on a piece until it feels right and do not feel any need to explain or understand what the images mean, or why the work even exists... it has to intuitively feel to me that a work has an honest reason for being, or I will continue to work on it until it does, or rub it out... in Giger’s work, I sense that same impulse... I doubt that he spent a lot of time explaining his images or even trying to explain them to himself... the images came up as he was working, he put them down and they felt right…

I never met the man Giger though, he was a friend of the friend who invited me to the memorial service... as a result of his Oscar, he became, according to the film very well known... being well known creates something of a mystique about a person, but that seems to be only peripherally related to the art... in the case of a celebrity artist like Yoko Ono, Jackson Pollock, or pretty much anybody featured at MOMA, well, the persona, the lifestyle seemed to be far more interesting than the art... that Jackson Pollock, for example, invented drip painting, is I guess kind of cool, but the paintings themselves are just drips, not too interesting to me… the film about Basquiat was far more interesting to me than looking at a room full of Basquiat paintings…

the film Dark Star however is quite a different story... Giger obviously was a person who lived and did art guided only by his own internal compass, but while I enjoyed seeing his house and wife, etc... it is still his art which brings me back... the amazing images are such a presence in their own right and not because of who made them or because they were made by air brush or because they make good tattoos, but for the simple reason that the images, while sometimes hard to look at, are impossible to turn away from... they are rooted somewhere in the subconscious image bank that is burned into the back of my brain... the artist is interesting because of the images his hands made not the other way around….

I just read something that claimed that the Museum of Modern Art in New York, just picks successful artists from a few of the big New York galleries and does not have the interest or the funds to hunt for anything else that might be happening and could be called art... I have said many times that the art establishment that includes the art departments of colleges and universities all over the USA, that includes regional modern art museums in all big American cities and most of the big commercial galleries... just plain sucks... it is corrupt and would not know compelling art from a pile of dogshit... and Giger was never a part of that establishment except at the very fringes... and I like and admire that he was able to keep making art without being corrupted and trying to fit into that conceptual, abstract scene... that begins and ends on the sterile walls of MOMA... where the art does not matter nearly as much as the biography of the artist… however, if he becomes enough of a celebrity his work may yet find a place on the walls of MOMA, along side the collection of Scorsese... or Yoko Ono or some other Hollywood A lister…

either way, Giger’s popularity tells me that, in spite of being told that art which takes the image seriously is not needed or wanted in the big time galleries and museums… there is a need in this world for compelling visual art, for images that sear into the eye and brain of the viewer and that are far stranger and more profound than anything you will see in a Museum of Modern Art, or in the halls of the university of whatever art department... and those of us who embrace this art outside the fine arts establishment, who are working at making images in our living rooms and garages, in our tattoo parlors and our studios without ever a hope of reaching the real big time in the art world, have a hero, in this sad figure who is seen shuffling around his house in the movie Dark Star... who had obviously suffered a stroke or some other physical decline (the family will not say)… who got money from Hollywood and used it to buy a castle to put his images in... who used tools like the airbrush, tool of auto detailers, to make amazing art simply with the strength of his vision and his absolute mastery of his medium... and who died so tragically just about a year ago…

poetryrepairs #212 15,06:065





NORMAN J OLSON
on visiting the HR Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland

-- April 27, 2008
my fingers twitched like patterns of black shapes in webs and layers of translucent paint. hours crawled up the walls like spiders. a cute boy in a black shirt typed cryptic equations into a cash register and light slipped through the windows like a ghost made of alpine snow. airbrushed rivets and girders beat bound flesh with straps and snakes I imagined the staircase without walls, my knee hinges flexing on rubber steps. in my scalded skull, a dizzy brain spun as I stumbled upward on a flimsy staircase high above the tourists and the camera cobbled streets. mountains in the distance danced like zombie teeth and the sun shone like the glazed dazed eye of a Geneva junkie as the needle digs again into the familiar ruin of flesh poisoned, decaying and torn by terrible dreams. invisible screams whirled in the mountain wind.

poetryrepairs #212 15,06:065







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: NORMAN J OLSON is a 67 year old underground poet and artist who since publishing his first poem in 1984 after 17 years of continuous submission and rejection, he has now published hundreds of poems in 15 countries and all over the USA. OLSON is a noncommercial artist and does not sell and seldom shows his original drawings and paintings, however nearly all of his 400 or so mature works have been published in the literary press: current work can be seen on the cover of the Jackson, Mississippi literary journal POETRYREPAIRS at http://www.poetryrepairs.com and a gallery of recent drawings is published in the most recent edition of Ascent Aspirations, a poetry journal published in BC Canada… also, two essays are in the 15-5 issue of Poetry repairs… also, several artworks and a poem, including the cover image are in the current issue of the French literary and art journal mgversion/datura ,

"a poem [] after my visit to the HR Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland. the museum is in a Castle in the middle of the touristy hill town of Gruyeres, of cheese fame… Giger apparently bought it with money from his Hollywood success in Alien… in the poem, I image walking up the spiral staircase in the castle as if that staircase extended through the roof of the building and looking down on the town of Gruyeres from high above… the poem was originally published in a French underground poetry journal called mgversion/datura… in 2008…"





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