Artists Space

Explorations of an “Aesthetic of Delirium"

September 8, 2018, 7:30pm

This screening takes place at Metrograph and is part of the Jack Smith Film Retrospective program series.


Scotch Tape, 1959-62, 16mm, (sound, color), 3 minutes
Overstimulated, 1959-63, 16mm, (silent, back and white), 6 minutes
Flaming Creatures, 1962-63, 16mm, (sound, black and white), 42 minutes
Total running time: 51 minutes

A woman screaming while two men hold her down and touch her breasts.
Jack Smith. Still from *Flaming Creatures, 1962-63. [A woman screaming while two men hold her down and touch her breasts.]

In a period of collaboration with the likes of Ken Jacobs, Marian Zazeela, and Tony Conrad, Jack Smith produced films characterized by their hallucinatory, frenetic vision. In Scotch Tape, his cast dances across a landscape of industrial wreckage (the future site of Lincoln Center), while Eddie Duchin’s rhumba “Carinhoso” sounds in the background. The Kodachrome color film, which intercuts overhead shots with disorienting close-ups, gets its title from a piece of scotch tape visibly stuck to the left corner of the frame throughout the film. Smith’s Overstimulated, a silent reel later used in his live film performances, deliriously depicts actors Jerry Sims and Bob Fleischner frantically jumping up and down in a room filled with mysterious objects and debris. The program ends with Smith’s most notorious—and his only completed—film, Flaming Creatures, which was seized by the NYPD at the time of its debut and became the subject of a censorship battle over its lascivious content. In the film, Smith conjures a mess of entangled limbs and genitalia that writhe in a euphoric fit of sexual desire.

Thank you: Anthology Film Archives, Isaac Alpert, Barbara Gladstone, Claire Henry, J. Hoberman, Ed Leffingwell, Jerry Tartaglia.

Organized by Kathrin Bentele, Stella Cilman, Jay Sanders, and Jamie Stevens.

Presented in collaboration with Metrograph.