Escape From Rented Island: The Lost Paradise Of Jack Smith
2 December 2018
Jerry Tartaglia 2017 / DCP / 88′ 00/ 1.37
For more than twenty years, Jerry Tartaglia worked on restoring, preserving and exhibiting the film legacy of Jack Smith.
Now, Tartaglia has created a masterful film essay that consists of twenty-one short illustrations of Smith’s aesthetic and political principles including Capitalism, Glitter, Performance, Chance, Boredom, Thievery, Injustice, and Maria Montez.
Jack Smith left behind a cache of audio recordings that he made in the 1970s, 80s, and earlier, in which he reveals much about his ideas of artmaking, cinema, politics, and life.
“I’ve culled the most daring and engaging of these recordings with images from his films and photography that exemplify or illustrate his ideas. The unique feature of the film is that there are no “talking head” interviews with anyone. The only spokesperson for Jack Smith is Jack himself! ”-JT
Jack Smith was one of the most accomplished and influential underground artists in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and a key figure in the cultural history of film, performance, photography and art in America.
Beneath the glitter and the camp in his films, photographs, and performance (which he called Live Film performances) there lurks a biting political satire; an irony born from the alienated sensibility of a queer American artist.
His best known film, Flaming Creatures (1963), became the subject of a protracted legal battle over its alleged pornographic content. Beginning in the 1970s, his films—until then screened under typical viewing conditions—were incorporated into his Live Film Performances with film, slides and music from his vinyl LP collection.
That Jack Smith was able to produce his work with virtually no financial support and even less notoriety before his life was cut short by HIV related disease in 1989 remains a testament to his perseverance, vision and genius.