Monday, April 21, 2008

Derek Jarman: Exhibition

A while ago I told you about my latest trip into the steam and darkness of London's bath houses. It was there that I picked up a flier for the Jarman exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery. I didn't get to the exhibition myself so I wil try not to pass too much judgement but it does seem that it was not well received by the critics.

A friend of a friend took their 11 year old neice to see it. The little girl came out of the gallery saying, "so, they guy was gay... he needs to get over it."

It seems to me that can only be the fault of the curator. It would be a little like coming out of an exhibition about the suffragettes and hearing someone say, 'so they were women...'

So, regardless of the possible merits or otherwise of the exhibition at the Serpentince I'd decided a long time ago to do something more on Jarman here this year and so here is my own little exhibition for your purusal.

I give you Derek Jarman, renaissence man, film-maker, painter, writer of achingly beautiful prose and photogenic gay saint.

1 comment:

clixchix said...

Well done Callum. Three cheers for championing the great Jarman, who himself spent a lifetime putting his head above the parapet, in order to make sure that when most were still firmly in the closet, there was at least one openly gay man out there to put the wind up the establishment. Apart from the admirable though decidedly eccentric Quentin Crisp, who was not the role model I craved as a young man, Jarman was the sole voice of homosexual youth. Passionate, funny, articulate, clever, and drop-dead sexy, he was the one to whom so many of us looked for inspiration and guidance when finding our ways out of the shadows and into the sun. In those days of few, if any role models, Jarman was our Messiah. He rejoiced in his sexuality, praised the beauty of men, and forged an aesthetic we all recognised and could participate in. All gay men today who live their lives openly and in relative happiness, owe a debt of gratitude to Derek Jarman, whether they know it or not. I didn't see the Serpentine show, but if the curator got it so wrong that visitors too young to know of Jarman's life and works, didn't have his output contextualised in a manner to clearly explain the massive contribution he made to gay culture and politics, then shame on him/her for the missed opportunity. Fortunately Jarman's films and books are still out there to be found, and the legacy lives on in all those of us who remember him with love and admiration. He was a great artist in the full, rounded sense. Everything he touched turned to art. And when he wasn't able to make films, his hands and mecurial mind were not idle, as he created one of the most beautiful gardens of the twentieth century, conjuring it with limited financial resources (and limited energy too, for he was often not well by the time he started on it) from the shingle of the beach around his home, Prospect Cottage at Dungeness. But with Jarman, money wasn't the limiting factor in his artistry, because his imagination and enthusiasm were limitless, transcending the constraints of low budgets, both with his films, and his sublime garden. Doff your caps, bow your heads, and bend your knees before the great man. He changed our world, and he did it with boundless wit, humanity, artistry and love. Massive hugs and wholloping great juicy kisses for Callum, for raising this flag on his blog.

Clive H-J

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