Author Archives: chelseapublicprogramme

Imagined Communities

Curated by : Beining Liang, Hingis Szewah Ng, Jing Wu

13 – 14 May 2019

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“It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their follow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.”

-Benedict Anderson

 

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Mutual thoughts form a society. According to McMllian and Chavis, there are four elements of ‘sense of community’: membership, influence, integration and fulfilment of needs, and shared emotional connection. From the point of view of the shared emotional and ideological connection between communities, the same values and identities recognition creates a bonding between one and other. In this sense, created the strongest cohesion among communities.

The show named ‘Imagined Communities’ integrated the idea from McMillian and Chavis which provides an opportunity to examine 17 artworks with a shared approach on expressing fundamental issues such as self-realization, human consciousness and identity through Photography, Paintings and Moving Image. From the mixed media of artworks we have selected, it formed a metaphor of the diversity within the community.

Jean-Luc Nancy stated that even we are in the same community, our own individual characteristic remains and the peculiarity from each of us makes the group resilient. Co-designed and co-created by 6 artists: Sizuo Chen, Went Ian, Linlu Zhang, Sicheng Wang, Zhuanxu Xu and Keno Tung & Yiding Zhang. Each of the artists talked about different aspects from the groups but at the same time forms a general theme that elevates the feature of the community. By exhibiting their works, it creates a platform for the audience to discuss and develop the possibilities of innovative and sustainable solutions.

 

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Reading Room for ‘Dress Portrait’: an interview with Sarah Edwards

As part of their Reading Room project alongside the Chelsea Space exhibition ‘Dress Portrait: Molly Goddard and Sarah Edwards’, MA Curating and Collections students Yihuan Chen, Beining Liang and Zeyu Zhao interviewed photographer and set designer Sarah Edwards, who shared her insight on the show, her practice and collaborating with her daughter Molly Goddard.

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Sarah Edwards in the gallery. Photograph by Zeyu Zhao

Q: Hi Sarah, thank you for agreeing to this interview! Could you explain your thoughts behind the idea for this exhibition in Chelsea Space? Was there anything that was part of your original plan, but changed in the end?

A: Well, the idea was really to take photographs of fashion, but looking at fashion in a different way. I think that is an important part of what I do. I try to capture how I want the garments to feel, how they relate to my surroundings, and how they have a connection with nature, landscape and other elements. If there was anything that changed in the final display? No, not really. I had a very clear idea of how I wanted it to look, and I wanted to portray the clothes in a way that was my own personal view of them, looking at them as if they were objects, to show the real beauty about the construction of fabrics.

Q: You are also a set designer. How does working on set design compare to preparing an exhibition?

A: With set design, I have a very clear vision of how I want certain things to appear, and I try to stay away from the very obvious. It’s about making people interested in what they see, and seeing things from a different angle. For example, if I did a dinner table, I would probably put some elements there that are unexpected. So, for this show, I did not want to just hang twenty framed pictures on one wall; I like the fact that when you come up, the first thing you see, that green wall with the quite traditional hanging, looks very different than the rest of the exhibition. I wanted there to be quite lot to see within the small space, that’s why the pasted photographs, and the small frames at the end.

Q: Do you think you were inspired by this space?

A: Yes, every space inspires me. Every space is a challenge, I like thinking what’s the best one can do within a given space. And that is why I had the wall built, I did not want it to be just one room, I wanted there to be a flow, and for people go towards the end of the room, turn around and see these pictures which are quite hidden.

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Installation view of ‘Dress Portrait’. Photo by Zeyu Zhao.

Q: When and why did you start working as a photographer?

A: I started taking photographs when I was 11 years old, and I took it very seriously then. In those days, I used film which was expensive, so I was very careful about what I photographed, and I took a lot of time to set up the composition. I think as a photographer, you look at things very much as photographs, in your whole life you almost look at everything as if you were looking through the camera – and that can be quite exhausting in many ways! I am always composing things, be it picking faces, framing landscapes, anything. Seeing everything as photographs is really wonderful, because that means wherever you are, you are being inspired.

Q: Who have you been inspired by? Do you have a favourite photographer?

A: I would say all photographers, past and present, have had an impact on my own practice. Fashion photography really inspires me. I do not really have a favourite, however. With many photographers, I like a lot of what they do, and I might not like some of their work. But I would say Henri Cartier-Bresson has been a huge inspiration.

Q: We noticed that in your photographs for this exhibition, you focus on details, and your use of light and shadow is very strong.

A: Well, my photography is about composition as much as light to shadow. I am fascinated by light changes, I love when the light is unusual. Like on a sunny day, when the sky is black; I remember being about ten years old, living in the countryside and seeing a sky like that, a black sky on a sunny day, and wanting to capture that. Unusual light really inspires me.

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Installation view of ‘Dress Portrait’ with photograps by Sarah Edwards. Photo by Zeyu Zhao.

Q: So, do you prefer black and white photography because of its stronger contrast?

A: I don’t like dark any more than colour, and I can print my photographs either in black and white or in colour, and I don’t really have a preference. Although when you look at my colour photographs in this exhibition, they look very desaturated, quite like black and white photographs.

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Installation view of ‘Dress Portrait’ with photographs by Sarah Edwards. Photo by Zeyu Zhao.

Q: When did you start photographing Molly’s dresses or using her materials in your photographs?

A: From the first day she started. Alice, my other daughter, is a stylist. I have been photographing them since they were born, so when when Molly started creating her collections, I just kept on recording her life.

Q: Wow, that’s amazing! Why do you choose to photograph her work, rather than other kinds of artistic practice?

A: Well, you know, I take photographs all the time, so this an element of my work, part of the work I do. But I’m interested in doing portraits, or fashion, or nature. I photograph her work, not because it is hers, but because it inspires me and I find it very beautiful. I like the challenge of photographing it in a way that moves away from fashion photography.

Q: How is it to work with your daughter? Do you work together every day?

A: No, we don’t work together every day, we work separately. The advantages I think are that we are inspired by similar things, and I think we both admire each other’s work. You know, we get along very well, we laugh for a lot of things, we just don’t take it too seriously. There are no difficulties, it all happens very naturally and quite organically.

Q: When working with Molly, how do you draw inspiration from each other? As you said, you love similar things.

A: I think we are similar in the way we research, not just fashion, but also related subjects; Molly also does a lot of research, and there are lots of different things that can inspire her for her collections. I really encourage people to look at everything. When you go to an exhibition, look up an artist you don’t know about, study the architecture of the space, notice everything. I think this is important particularly when being a student, you really need to read a lot, and look at different photographers. Molly and I send images to each other occasionally, she knows what I will like and I know what she will like. And that’s just fun, I do that with friends as well.

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Installation view of ‘Dress Portrait’ with photograph by Sarah Edwards. Photo by Zeyu Zhao.

Q: And what are your future plans for the collaboration with Molly?

A: Right now there are lots of things coming up, a lot of things to do! So we will carry on working on more projects together.

Q: Where do you see your practice going forward? Will you focus on either photography or set design or continue with both?

A: I think I want to spend more time on my photography, and I possibly would like to publish something, photographic books perhaps. I will carry on working on set design as well, but allow more time to do photography.

Q: So, would you want to exhibit again?

A: Yes, I’d love to do another exhibition.

Q: Looking forward to it. Hope it will be in London, and we can visit it. Is there anything about this exhibition that you would change or add, or something that didn’t reach your expectations?

A: I am going to say something funny – if I could change anything, I would have liked to have a big comfort carpet on the floor! When working around a budget you can’t always get everything, but in such a minimal modern space, it would be unexpected, you know? And it’s about the whole experience, seeing the show while walking on a fake luxury pink carpet, it would have been lovely.

Yihuan Chen, Beining Liang and Zeyu Zhao

deconstructing my crush

The Morgue, Chelsea College of Arts

6 – 10 July, 2018

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Banchi’s perfomance ‘Involucro’ and Object II, Video Projection, Flavia Banchi (2018) performer Clara Lasàgna.

deconstructing my crush is a co-generated exhibition by the artist Flavia Banchi and the curator Laura Callegaro, which takes Banchi’s artistic practice as a departure point. Banchi’s research reflects on the idea of fetishism in nowadays society: by investigating the objects’ arbitrariness of value in different contexts, religions and ages, her practice arrives also to question the status of idols and cult objects in correlation to their perception within the current visual culture.

The videos projected on the Morgue’s walls interrogate a shape which does not identify itself with any existing object, though connotated by a visually palpable materiality. This object attempts to evade the known value system and challenges its discernible configurations, which are, as a consequence, ours. In response to Banchi’s moving image, the exhibition includes sound, complementarily conceived by Tommaso Di Filippo, who performs on 6th of July during the exhibition opening.

Ackowledging Banchi’s work, the communication designer Max Effantin considers the idea of blank shape as a site on which subjectivities are projected: enacting and translating this concept into environmental terms, Effantin’s main aim is to explore shift at the border between our inner spaces and the built world. Therefore, as an integral learning programme of the exhibition, the sensory workshop Rewilding the Urban Body took place on 16th of June at the Nomadic Garden (Shoreditch), led by the Sentient Society. Afterwards, a video centred on documentation via digital poetry has been realised by Effantin – and included in the show – in light of the workshop’s discussions and outcomes, focusing on the urban body’s sensory experience as a method to re-evaluate our daily ordinary approaches within our surroundings.

Within the framework of this exhibition, both the workshop and the sound act as an open extension of the critical understanding of values and agency that we give to objects, which is in turn the main focus of Flavia Banchi’s inquiry. Through these different practices and mediums horizontally explored and conjuncted,deconstructing my crush is intended as a collaborative research project, enquiring a reflection on de-constructing our current attitudes and their values unavoidably attached as a result of transient, historical and sociological layers of conditions.

Performance
Tuesday 10th July, 6pm
Flavia Banchi’s performance Involucro (Wrapping) will take place at the Morgue.

Special thanks to Donald Smith, Director of the CHELSEA space, for all his support.

Biographies

Flavia Bianchi (1993, Rome, IT) is a London based artist. After graduating in Communication and Design at ISIA, Florence (2016), she decided to continue her approach in more artistic terms rather than projectual, enrolling into a post-graduate course in Visual Arts and Fashion at IUAV (Venice). She just completed a photography course at Camberwell College of Arts (UAL).

Max Effantin (1995, Valence, FR) MA Graphic Design Communication, Chelsea College of Arts.

Santo Milo (1986, Montería, CO) Event Designer.
The Sentient Society (founded by Effantin) is an environmental design project which aims to participate in the transition towards a more sustainable and sensitive culture; for this workshop, a collaboration with Milo Santo took place. Sentient Society intervenes in local communities to engage stakeholders with new ecological orientations, responding actively to local environmental and social needs.

Tommaso Di Filippo (1990, Florence, IT) is an Italian-born and East London-based house and techno producer. Under this alias you will find lo-fi nostalgic vibes and organic dance floor workouts.

Laura Callegaro (1994, Venice, IT) is a MA Curating & Collections student at Chelsea College of Arts. She is doing an internship as assistant curator at Flat Time House (London) and has worked as artist’s assistant at the Israeli Pavilion during the 57th Venice Biennale.

Café Project #31 – Emma Neuberg

The Democratic Dish: Transfer Project

Emma Neuberg

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Emma Neuberg ‘s design for a project that ran in conjunction with the exhibition ‘The Democratic Dish: Mintons Secessionist Ware” was one of the four chosen by judges Grayson Perry, Donald Smith and Amy Hughes, to be made into a ceramic transfer/decal and exhibited in the Chelsea Café. In this dedicated blog we are pleased to present a detailed insight into her process.

Artist Emma Neuberg (CSM alumni, 1990) and VL on BA Textiles at Chelsea, and textile design tutor at V&A, says:

I was inspired by all the Democratic Dish talks and Alessandra & Simon Wilson’s collection on show. So, when I got home, I studied the exhibition catalogue looking for decorative motifs on the ceramics that captured my imagination. I especially liked the swirling compositions, graphic outlines, subtle washes of colour and painterly compositions reminding me of Henri Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh prints. 

Having decided to enter the competition, I went to my studio to start my usual process of drawing in pastels and started two large designs with swirling, vertical and floral motifs. I filled the paper quickly with two very different compositions making them A2 size so that I could easily select an 11 inch circle that would make a fresh and evocative design for a new democratic dish!

I transferred these to my favourite computer software and developed the drawings further. This is the design process I aways use and you can see much larger versions of the same technique on my website where scale is no obstacle: www.emmaneuberg.com

I arrived at two platter designs, Cloud Buds and Blooms Blur, (I always title my work) and submitted them both. 

I was thrilled to receive an email with a movie attached of Grayson Perry saying, “this person must be a professional…well done, Emma!” he and all the judges had selected Cloud Buds.

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I’m delighted to win and be selected by great curators and ceramicists who can see how my vision can be applied to ceramics. Pattern and applied arts have alway been an integral part of my practice as are twentieth century influences from the Belle Epoque to Action Painting. Being half French has contributed to my international sensibility. During my undergraduate years I studied ceramics at Brighton University and my postgraduate in Textiles at the RCA, so it seems fitting to be selected by Grayson Perry!

Naturally, I was delighted to be selected and doubly happy for my second UAL competition win as, way back in 1990, I won the CSM Foundation 1990 Exhibition Poster Competition. The brief was simply to communicate the Foundation’s art and design disciplines (Visual Communication, Fashion, Fine Art, Sculpture and Theatre) so I came up with a remake of Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon where each figure models a symbol of CSM’s disciplines. So, from left to right, the figures carry an artists’s palette, a sculptor’s mallet, a tailor’s tape, a mask and an 8mm movie camera.

I worked on the ideas in the CSM Charing Cross cafe sitting alongside Alexander McQueen and John Galliano and fellow student Gary Wallis worked with me on the font and text.

I love threading together historical influences with contemporary ideas and my Democratic Dish brings to life my London and European cultural and historical heritage in a group of artefacts that will become new London heritage! 

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This threading of influences took place again with Daisy McMullan (who was taught by Donald) in our group shows The Geometrics (part of my Slow Textiles Group) where we exhibited and published on the Frederick Etchells Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition Rug 1913 (now located in the Chelsea Space Collection).

The finished plates are on display in the Chelsea Cafe until January 14, 2019.

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Cafe Project #31

The Democratic Dish

9 November 2018 – 14 January 2019

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Grayson Perry presenting the selected designs at the finissage of ‘The Democratic Dish’ 26 October 2018

 

In the process of curating the exhibition ‘The Democratic Dish: Mintons Secessionist Ware’, the curator, Cherie Silver, wanted to develop a public programme where people would get a chance to have a go at using techniques used to create the ceramics in the exhibition. Several of the Mintons Secessionist ceramics incorporated ceramic transfers or decals. Decals are designs prepared on special paper for durable transfer on to another surface such as porcelain.

The curator, together with Amy Hughes, ceramic artist and specialist ceramics technician at Chelsea College of Arts, conceived the Transfer Project, where visitors to the exhibition were invited to submit designs inspired by the ceramics from the collection of Alessandra and Simon Wilson, and/or drawings and archive material from the Minton Archive at Stoke-on-Trent City Archives. Judged by Grayson Perry, Donald Smith and Amy Hughes, four entries were selected and the artists invited participate in a workshop to transform their designs onto plates.

Over 150 entries were submitted by visitors ranging from young children, students, professionals and enthusiasts. The challenge to reduce 150 down to 4 was a challenging one. Here are some examples which shows the diversity of the entries:

 

We were delighted to have Grayson Perry announce the winning entries at the finissage of the exhibition, introducing the presentation by highlighting his passion for ceramics:

“I started off painting ceramics because I thought there was some mileage in it in the art world because they didn’t like ceramics because ceramics were from where I like to call the suburbs of culture. The high concept high art was like the metropolitan sophisticated centre, and then the art history, the great old masters were like the beautiful countryside and then you always drove through the suburbs on your way to your second house. The art world was quite happy to drag something from the distance like a urinal or a shark, but they didn’t want to visit the suburbs. So I thought it was my job to rehabilitate those suburbs of culture and ceramics was certainly part of that.”

Perry then went on to highlight the reasoning behind his selection, deliberately trying to represent a broad cross section of the entries.

Eva Scott:

“The first one here is by Eva Scott, I don’t know how old she is but there is a myth that all children are good artists, no they’re not, most of them are rubbish, but Eva is a good one. I love the strength of the blue, good work Eva.”

Emma Nueberg:

“This one looks much more sophisticated, the person who did this is a professional I think, this one here is by Emma Neuberg.”

Ella Rose-Caton:

“I’ve got to say this one spoke to me straight away, the final one, it’s high heels, its toilets and its toilet paper. And it also echoes many of the best qualities of a perfect Minton plate, I could just imagine these pipetted on or however they are put on with the plates with slip trail, and I think these Tudor roses are speaking of an alternative Britain that we are about to enter.”

Melissa Newbery-Welcome:

Got a little bit of punky Russian constructivist vibe there, very political artist.

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Eva Scott is 4 years-old and from Musselburgh, Scotland. Chelsea Space is a gallery for everyone, and it was great to see entries from several children, including several from a Scottish school – Loretto, and one from Mayfield Girls.

Rosemary Cronin, UAL Insights Outreach Practitioner visited the exhibition with several groups of students from The BRIT School, and utilised the Transfer Project to engage with them. Melissa Newbery-Welcome is one of those students, using collage materials sourced by Rosemary.

Ella Rose Caton is a student at Chelsea College of Arts and her design was inspired by a previous project on her Textile Design course at the university – an interior/exterior project, in which she redesigned a toilet for girls on a night out. What inspired her at the exhibition in Chelsea Space was the use of shape and composition on the ceramics. The specific designs that inspired her can compared with her final drawing:

Similarly, professional artist Emma Neuberg took inspiration from designs that appear on Mintons Secessionist ceramics, while using her own technique and familiar methods to curate a unique design, from which her textiles expertise comes through. You can read all about Emma’s process in this dedicated blog (link to be added).

We had a fantastic day in the workshop with Amy Hughes working on the transfers.

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The finished designs are installed in the Chelsea Café until January 14, 2019.

 

You can also check-out this great blog by Nathan Holmes for Chelsea College of Arts:

Grayson Perry stops by Chelsea Space for ‘The Democratic Dish’ exhibition

 

About the project The Chelsea Cafe Project is a series of displays of work by students and staff from Chelsea College of Arts. These changing displays are a chance to see some of the talent here at Chelsea from across a diverse range of disciplines. The series is curated in collaboration with CHELSEA space (opposite) as part of the Public Programme.

For more information please contact Cherie Silver at info@chelseaspace.org or in person at CHELSEA space. 

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Cafe Project #30

Stitch-School

13 June – 3 September 2018

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Stitch-School is founded by Senior Lecturer Melanie Bowles and stitch technician Aimee Betts both who work on the BA (Hons) Textile design course at Chelsea College of Arts. They aim to provide inspirational guidance to reconnect to the benefits of hand embroidery through workshops, educational kits and community events around their large communal embroidery table called The Supper Cloth.

The A-Z Supper Cloth is a public collaboration which took place at The Barbican Centre in March 2018 as part of Make! A Season for Contemporary Crafts, a ten-day embroidery installation where passers-by were invited to drop in and collaborate in stitching this one of a kind piece of fabric.

300 hours 

300+ participants

10 days

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Stitch-School facilitate embroidery events based around their large 2.5 meter embroidery table. These public events are called The Supper Cloth providing a space for people to sit down, slow down and feed their creativity through stitching and co-creating a communal Supper Cloth in special environments. Participants explore the wealth of embroidery stitches, learn together to create a communal cloth. Discovering the benefits of de-stressing as way of engaging in making as an antidote to modern life and fast living creating a sense of well being and relaxation.

The A-Z Supper Cloth was designed specifically for the Barbican Make! season of contemporary crafts during March. The cloth is a digital printed word search on linen. Each letter is an individual stitch,  A-Arrow stitch B – Back Stitch C – Chain Stitch etc. There are hidden stitch words in the cloth, see if you can spot them! The cloth was resident at the Barbican for 10 days, where over 300 people sat and stitched and contributed to over 300 hours of stitching. Participants ranged from ages 3 – 80 years old and were from all over the world to create this communal beautiful master piece

 For more information visit www.stitch-school.com


Additional embroidered artworks are by Melanie Bowles 

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instagram   |    @stitch_school

web   |   www.stitch-school.com

web   |   http://www.melaniebowles.co.uk

 

About the project The Chelsea Cafe Project is a series of displays of work by students and staff from Chelsea College of Arts. These changing displays are a chance to see some of the talent here at Chelsea from across a diverse range of disciplines. The series is curated in collaboration with CHELSEA space (opposite) as part of the Public Programme.

For more information please contact Cherie Silver at info@chelseaspace.org or in person at CHELSEA space. 

STANLEY KUBRICK, THE ANALOGY AND DICHOTOMY OF ADAPTATIONS

Chelsea Library, Chelsea College of Arts

16th April 2018 – 31st April 2018

Curated by Laura Callegaro and Carla Gimeno Jaria

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Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was a renowned filmmaker, producer and screenwriter, having made four short films and documentaries and thirteen feature films, Kubrick had a particular filmmaking style which encompassed several characteristics: the use of the music as a pivotal component of the narration, the dark humor, the accurate set design or the realism.

Apart from Fear and Desire and Killer’s Kiss, all his films are based on novels by male writers. Likewise, Kubrick had a unique way of adapting novels, usually altering their structure and narrative. Accordingly, he received mixed reviews for his work, but today Kubrick is revered for his intuition in for the transformative adaptation.

His adaptations, that include a wide range of movie genres, demonstrate his desire to go beyond the aesthetic feature of the film. The filmmaker attempted to extract the crucial points of the story and was always heavily committed to the development of the characters and the ambiance, in order to create the best version of the novel in its visual representation.

Taking the films Lolita (1962), A Clockwork Orange (1972), The Shining (1980) and Full Metal Jacket (1987) as a main focus, this exhibition aims to explore the material from The Stanley Kubrick Archive – located at London College of Communication – to present the diverse processes that Kubrick followed adapting these four novels to films. These four films frame many of the different characteristics of Kubrick’s versatile style of bringing novels to the screen and, similarly, depict his obsession for the duality of humans and the male violence.

 

LOLITA

In the case of Lolita (1962), Kubrick made significant changes from the original plot of the novel, written by Vladimir Nabokov in 1955, turning it into a love story and tragicomedy. The filmmaker on the one hand, reshaped some of the features of the two main characters, Humbert and Lolita, and on the other hand, added significant sarcasm in some of the dialogues, transforming the script into a more humorous narration.

This shift is precisely captured in the correspondence between Kubrick and the Swiss actor Peter Ustinov (SK/10/8/4), where the filmmaker explains that for him the novel depicts a romance history that portrays “a very different love than the modern ideal”, and in which Humbert is an anti-hero. Specifically, the way Kubrick twisted the tone of the film was through the characterisation of Lolita’s role. While in the novel her character is figured as an object for Humbert’s desire, in the film their relationship seems to be mutual. As can be appreciated in her photographs from the pre-production (SK/10/2/14), Kubrick wanted both to show her as a teenager and as a sexual being, appearing to be erotic and flirty but also innocent and harmless. Likewise, the filmmaker ignored the age gap between Humbert and Lolita in the novel, where she was 12-years-old, increasing her age to be closer to the age consent. Consequently, the controversial paedophilic connotation of the novel isn’t endowed in the film, showing a story where Lolita is manipulating the relationship.

Additionally, one striking alteration of the narrative is the shift in Quilty’s murder, one action that in the novel happens in the end and is not given much significance. In the film, this scene opens the story, as can be read in the second draft of the script (SK/10/1/24), provoking a mysterious beginning for the viewers, who don’t know who Quilty is until the end. This distortion of the original plot was part of Kubrick’s way of communicating to the audience, trying to hold onto the suspense throughout the film. Explicitly, this particular case study of Lolita portrays that Kubrick’s ability to adapt novels, not only the translation from the words to the visual enactment, but also to creatively interpret through research.

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CLOCKWORK ORANGE

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In a similar way to Lolita, in A Clockwork Orange (1972), based on the dystopian novel originally written by Anthony Burgess in 1962, Stanley Kubrick prompted different variations from the original to achieve a particular narration within the film language. This was the first time that the filmmaker had the sole authorship in the script, therefore during the adaptation of the novel, he followed a different process to reach what he felt was its best execution for the visual experience.

First, instead of using the British version of the novel, Kubrick wrote the script based on the American version (SK/13/1/15). This decision was personally undertaken since the American version has the last chapter missing. In this chapter, the main character, Alex, shows redemption to his violent ways. Anthony Burgess, English writer (1917-1993), explained that he tried to write a novella as “a sort of allegory of Christian free will. Man is defined by his capacity to choose courses of moral action. If he chooses good, he must have the possibility of choosing evil instead; evil is a theological necessity”[1]. Accordingly, Kubrick wanted to work with the ambiguity of an open-ended finale, where the destiny of the character was clearly unknown, thus pushing the imagination of the viewers to foresee his fate.

Moreover, Kubrick made other alterations or omissions to the story, as can be seen in the Anthony Burgess first draft (SK/13/1/5). The filmmaker steered the film towards one of his main characteristic themes: the male violence and the duality of human, as in Full Metal Jacket. By eluding to part of the physical injuries to the victims’ bodies after the sexual assaults, explicitly described in the novel, he focused more on the fighting and the sex acts. Likewise, by being less explicit and raising the age of the main characters, those in the novel were teenagers, he made on-screen story in the screen more palatable for the public.

Kubrick’s ability to translate the desired ambience and environment described in the book to the film set is remarkable. The original story revolved around a futuristic street gang. In relation to the costumes, Kubrick contacted the production designer Luciana Arrighi (SK/13/2/6/2), who insisted that the most important thing was to define a unique style in order to project what the novel described. Accordingly, as can be seen in the different photographs, one of Kubrick’s main obsessions was finding the optimal characterisation of the main roles: from the hats to the garments, every detail was crucial. Furthermore, regarding the ambiance, Kubrick’s use of classical and synthetic music impacted directly on the tone and narration of the film. The music comprises a fundamental enhancement of Alex’s role, as it gives dramatism and intensity and draws the audience into deepen on his obscure physiological condition. As Burgess himself explains “Alex’s aggressive instincts have been stimulated by classical music, but the music is forewarning him of what he must someday become: a man who recognise the Dionysiac in, say, Beethoven, but appreciate the Apollonian as well. (…) the Beethoven spirit must be here: the spirit of the mature creative mind which can reconcile the creative and the destructive”[2].

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THE SHINING

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The Shining (1980) was based on the homonym Stephen King’s novel of the same name (1977). As regards its screenplay, Diane Johnson, who was teaching a course on gothic novels at the University of California, became Stanley Kubrick’s ideal co-writer.

Kubrick’s research background for writing the dialogues centred on King’s novel, which in turn refers to Poe’s The Mask of the Red Death and Goya’s etching The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. He and Johnson also investigated the Freud’s Uncanny concept, producing a screenplay and, eventually, a film which deeply linked to intellectual and literature references of authors who mainly explored the notions of alienation and isolation[3].

Indeed, Kubrick worked over eleven months on King’s novel in order to produce the screenplay, focusing on translating each scene’s aim into a visual outcome, where the realization of the characters was pivotal: details of roles’ behaviour made up the consistency throughout the film, hence, the film itself. For instance, working on Jack’s attitude, we can see Kubrick’s annotations: “Writing the play or not writing the play, is an obsession.” (SK/15/1/1); on King’s novel some thoughts in relation to Wendy’s character are included as well (SK/15/1/2).

Another landmark element of the film is the location: Kubrick’s initial idea was to shoot exclusively in a hotel, therefore, many hotels were taken into consideration. His team were sent to different parts of America and in Europe – Austria, Amsterdam and Switzerland were considered and documented through photographs. Because of costs and weather conditions, the final location for external shootings was the Timberline Lodge in Oregon – of which we can see some pre-production documentation exhibited (SK/15/6/2) – but, as regards the interiors of the hotel, it was decided to film on sets built at Elstree studios at Borehamwood in the United Kingdom.

Katharina Kubrick, daughter and location researcher, affirmed that many American hotels were analyzed by her in order to re-create accurate interiors and props[4]. Interestingly, if examined closely, the architectural plan of the hotel is not geographically coherent: the crew had to build the sets like a jigsaw to make the best use of the space, therefore, once certain elements were used for shooting, they would be replaced and their location changed. Ultimately, the result of this is an opulent space, perceived aesthetically as even more alienating.

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FULL METAL JACKET  

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Full Metal Jacket (1987) is a Kubrick’s film based on The Short-Timers (1979), a partly autobiographical novel written by the U.S. Marine Corps veteran Gustav Hasford, who fought in the Vietnam War.

The screenplay was co-written by Kubrick, Hasford and Michael Herr, generating a three-act film following the same division as within the novel: firstly, it illustrates how people are trained to be killers; secondly, a character called Joker is introduced as a journalist witnessing savage war’s dynamics in Vietnam. The last third and final act enunciates a moral discourse around how Joker becomes a killer. Overall, the process in which the film is articulated debates Joker’s loss of humanity, culminating in the act of killing a young female sniper. By being written with the contribution of three different voices, the result of the screenplay is a complex visual translation, which caused a number of debates, as we can see in the letter (SK/16/1/2/3) from Michael Herr to Gustav Hasford, in which Herr claimed Kubrick’s film to be “the real soul” of Hasford’s book.

Even though Full Metal Jacket was produced a generation after the war, in the film Kubrick highlights what reporting from the Vietnam War was like, in the end, an autoreferential conversation and an ideal representation from a US perspective – excluding any Vietnamese point of view. Through this lens, Kubrick critically integrated the American imagery of cowboys and Indians, triggered by Joker.

The cathartic process that Joker crosses in the three phases of both the novel and the film, prompts a reflection on the self-consciousness of soldiers and, above all, relates to how the reality of the war was perceived through the media, almost as a propaganda act. When the crew of cameramen arrive in the battlefield for documentation purposes, we can observe two facts: firstly, Kubrick’s choice of putting a particular song, Surfin bird song (1963), into this scene – representing an emphasis on the entertainment and euphoria for soldiers. Secondly, when interviewed, Joker says: “I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture and kill them”. This sentence was emblematically fundamental for Kubrick, as we can see from his very initial research on the novel.

In fact, a landmark point of the film is the main character’s ambivalence and their nuanced representation by Kubrick. Joker’s dual nature of killer and compassionate human being is clearly manifested in the pace button on his helmet. In a script portion of Hasford, we can see Kubrick underlining the sentence: “It was the first time I felt like that I was alive” (SK/16/1/11) in relation to the desire of feeling the death and the violent features of the war.

This recurrent dichotomy between destructiveness and empathy, between violence and humanity, is a striking ethical contrast – and an analogy at the same time, which is also exposed in A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick’s main concern is declared from the very beginning of his filmmaking process: namely, the selection of novels. For instance, Burgess himself explained his decision to use Beethoven’s music as complementary to Alex’s aggressive adolescent essence.

Finally, Joker’s final words encompass the human position towards sex and violence, the cynical view of the world, and eventually, the acceptance of all these intrinsic features which represent the human being:

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My thoughts drift back to erect nipple wet dreams about Mary Jane Rottencrocht and the Great Homecoming Fuck Fantasy. I am so happy that I am alive, in one piece and short. I’m in a world of shit…yes. But I am alive. And I am not afraid[5].

 

 [1] Burgess, A. (1987) A Clockwork Orange. A Play with Music. London: Hutchinston Ltd.

[2] Burgess, A. (1987) A Clockwork Orange. A Play with Music. London: Hutchinston Ltd.

[3] The psychoanalyst Karen Horney, J D Salinger, Carson Mc Cullers, Sherwood Anderson. Source: Ljujic, T. (2015) Stanley Kubrick: New Perspectives. London: Black Dog Publishing.

[4]  Ljujic, T. (2015) Stanley Kubrick: New Perspectives. London: Black Dog Publishing.

[5] Kubrick, S. and Herr, M. and Hasford, G. (1987) Full Metal Jacket. The Screenplay. London: Martin Secker & Warburg Limited.

 

List of works

Lolita

  • SK/10/1/24, Lolita – Second Draft, Nabokov and Kubrick, September 1960, script, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/10/8/2, ‘SK [Stanley Kubrick]-Nabokov’, Letter from Nabokov to Kubrick with corrections, 1959 – 1966, paper, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/10/8/4, Lolita Correspondence 1959-1960, Letter from Kubrick to Peter Ustinov, 20 May 1960, paper, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/10/2/14, Costume and make up test – Lolita, 1960, photographs, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive

A Clockwork Orange

  • SK/13/1/5, Anthony Burgess first draft [photocopy], undated, paper, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/13/8/5/12, Max L Rab, letter, 6 February 1970, paper, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/13/1/15, “A Clockwork Orange”, American edition of the novel, 1969, book, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/13/2/6/3, Droog Costume Research Images, 1970, photographs, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/13/2/6/2, Costume Research Slides, Letter by the productor designer Luciana Arrighi, 1970, paper, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/13/9/1, Photographs, Production of the film, 1970-1971, photographs, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive

The Shining

  • SK/15/1/2, Incomplete annotated text from Stephen King’s novel ‘The Shining’, 26 August 1977, paper, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/15/1/1, Handwritten notes on Stephen King’s novel ‘The Shining’, 1977, paper, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/15/6/2, Pre-production sets, Photographs of the sets, 1976-1980, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/15/6/3, Production, Photographs of the filming, 1979-1980, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive

Full Metal Jacket

  • SK/16/1/11, Script portions – unannotated, 1985, paper, SK/15/6/2, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/16/1/2/3 ‘Hasford, Gus’, Letter from Michael Herr (producer) to Gustav Hasford (writer), 23 April 1985, paper, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/16/2/16 Hasford notes, 24 May 1985, paper, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive
  • SK/16/1/1, Photographs, in the filming set, 1985, diverse photographs, paper, from the Stanley Kubrick Archive