MOCA's 'Kenneth Anger: ICONS' Opening: Avant-Garde Filmmaker Parties with Dave Navarro, Porn Star April Flores and More
Brendan A. Murray Kenneth Anger at the opening for MOCA's "Kenneth Anger: ICONS"
If experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger had written Hollywood Babylon today (instead of during the 1950s), his subjects would have been among Saturday night's turnout at the MOCA members' opening for Kenneth Anger: ICONS.
© Kenneth Anger Still from Anger's Scorpio Rising (1964)
While he's had gallery shows in London and Berlin, Kenneth Anger has never been the subject of an exhibition in his hometown of L.A. -- until now. When asked about his thoughts on his long-overdue retrospective here in Los Angeles, Anger told LA Weekly, "It's absolutely great." Yes, that's all we could get -- he's famously terse with the press.
Brendan A. Murray Anger and Brian Butler performing as Technicolor Skull
Kicking off the evening was a courtyard performance by Technicolor Skull -- a multimedia art collaboration featuring Kenneth Anger on Theramin and Brian Butler on everything else. Distorted, cacophonous tones accompanied a backdrop of clips from the Magick Lantern Cycle, a series of Anger's short films screening on a pentagram-shaped installation inside the museum.
Tanja M. Laden Installation of Anger's films at MOCA
In addition to his films, ICONS features more than a hundred pieces of memorabilia from Anger's personal collection, from old-timey articles on Aleister Crowley and Rudolph Valentino to vintage lobby cards, signed publicity photos and original work by Anger and others.
© Kenneth Anger Marjorie Cameron in a still from Anger's Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954)
Anger, who hates discussing his age, was born in Santa Monica in 1927. (Sorry, Kenneth.) His films are among the first to openly deal with homosexuality, and his relationship to the occult is just one of the reasons why he's never become part of the world of mainstream cinema. But it hasn't prevented that world from acknowledging his contributions to the film industry.
© Kenneth Anger Still from Anger's "Invocation of My Demon Brother" (1969)
In the DVD booklet for The Films of Kenneth Anger, director Gus Van Sant writes, "Predating anything that I know as gay cinema, Anger is the original." Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese remarks in his introduction to the same DVDs, "Now, you hear the word 'visionary' a lot, but in this case, it fits."