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ICONS: Kenneth Anger at MoCA with Technicolor Performance Tonight

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In 1947 Kenneth Anger would become the staple of avant-garde cinema in America for his film “Fireworks”(1947). As Anger recalls, "This flick is all I have to say about being seventeen, the United States Navy, American Christmas, and the fourth of July." The rest of Anger films would continue to explore sexuality, the language of dreams, sub cultures, as well as popular culture through the language of film, writing, and music. The myth of the artist does not fall short for Kenneth Anger, an artist with a trajectory reaching over seven decades, exploring American notions and encountering a motley of individuals. Amongst those individuals was Anais Nin, Alfred Kinsey, Jean Cocteau, and Marjorie Cameron.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is currently showing, “ICONS”, a small retrospective of Kenneth Anger’s work. The show at MoCA may be reminiscent of a 2009 retrospective at MoMA PS1 in New York City, as it revolves closely to the “Magick Lantern Cycle” series which Anger put together as suitable films for public screening. However, the MoCA show also focuses on Anger’s vast collection of memorabilia and photographs, along with his grandmother’s scrapbook, full of ephemera from the Golden era of Hollywood cinema. Anger’s inclination towards the occult, specifically Aleister Crowley is also present in the collection. Perhaps, the most significant piece regarding Anger’s work in the exhibited collection is a sketch of what was to be “Puce Women”, a film that was never completed, but only incarnated as the now, “Puce Moment”(1949).

Kenneth Anger’s request was to drape the second room of the show entirely in red vinyl referencing such films as, “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome”(1954) or “Scorpio Rising”(1963). It’s not to state that Anger only referenced two of his seminal works for his choice of a red vinyl gallery, as color is as important to Anger films as is the narrative that follows. Also, taking into consideration that the color red tends to appear as an almost sense of invocation in Anger’s work. The works of the “Magick Lantern Cycle” series are displayed in multiple projections around the gallery playing one film at a time.

Anger, now at the age of 84 resides in his hometown of Los Angeles. Where he continues to work on his films and projects. One of those projects, Technicolor Skull is a mixed media performance invoked by light and sound. Anger plays the theremin, his collaborator artist Brian Butler plays guitar and manipulates other electrical instruments all while Anger’s film works are projected as a backdrop. Kenneth Anger refers to his work as a dream, a rather trance of ritualistic performance without dialogue, but enabling manifestation of narrative.

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Tonight’s performance at MoCA of Technicolor Skull starts promptly at 8pm at MoCA Grand Avenue, 250 South Grand Avenue.