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Camp (1965) - Andy Warhol

Related: Andy Warhol - 1965 - camp - film


Camp (1965) - Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol’s 1965 response to Susan Sontag’s famous essay defining "camp" won my heart at the outset when its cast members (including Mario Montez, Gerard Malanga, and Jack Smith) start by discussing summer camps they’ve attended. Filmed at Warhol’s New York studio, the Factory, against walls covered with silver foil, each person presents a performance illustrating his or her idea of camp. Malanga reads a poem about public sex acts he’s engaged in; Smith comes "out of the closet" by creating a powerfully restrained, near-static mini drama that climaxes with the opening of a closet that contains a little Batman figure. Unlike the later Warhol films directed by Paul Morrissey, this has the raw, improvised, mistake-filled look of much of Warhol’s early art. One can see the random effects that inspired later filmmakers and performance artists, happy accidents like a crew member repeatedly adjusting a microphone within the frame or absurd stylistic elements like zooms that only sometimes find a human target. Most memorably Tally Brown explains, "I don’t think anybody’s camping. I think we’re all doing ourselves." Therein lies Warhol’s implicit quarrel with Sontag: "Camp" is not about momentary poses but about how the roles people assume define their lives. -- Fred Camper, the Chicago Reader

In an attempt to define Susan Sontag's nebulous conceit, "camp," Andy Warhol amasses a bunch of performers--some of whom are Factory insiders, some not--to do some, as they used to say in the early sixties, "camping." The highlight is Jack Smith literally coming out of a closet: Smith's combination of smirks, deep but impenetrable but super-visible thoughts, and retardate behavior made him one of the most jaw-dropping performers ever recorded on nitrate. There is literally no one like him; Andy Kaufman's stunts seem like cheap SNL gags in contrast. Even those jaded jades at the Factory are utterly overwhelmed by his aura of sacredness. The other stuff is fun, too, especially a fat guy who does a routine about "Paranoid Schizophrenics for William F. Buckley, Jr." The one drag: Mario Montez's trannie dance is interrupted by puke-inducing, Austin Powers-style zooms in and out. --Matthew Wilder, imdb.com

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