From collabs with Azzedine Alaia, to losing millions, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s shamanic screen skills are back in 2017 with the release of his new feature: Poesia Sin Fin (Endless Poetry). Thanks to the Serpentine Gallery, Cold Lips got an exclusive preview:
“We are here to talk about industrial public art,” begins Alejandro Jodorowsky, the magician of acid-occult movie making. He is a legend to many, his fans including Marilyn Manson, whom he married to Dita Von Teese, John Lennon – who gave him a million pounds towards the mystic alchemical Jesus vibes of Holy Mountain (1973), after seeing the halluci-western, El Topo (1970). Other fans spread far and wide, largely with roots in the underground, and spiritual, esoteric worlds which are stamped out by the consumer gluts his stories stand against.
His films are scant but biblical in vision: he’s all about healing journeys. And he’s had few, from doing time in the desert with Mexican folklorists, to developing his own Tarot of Marseilles’ deck, he’s been doing free workshops in Paris for many years on his own brand of shamanic psychomagic philosophy. He’s written many books on the subject. His trips in filmmaking make Terry Gilliam’s difficulties (Don Quixote never getting made) look like a light headache compared to a full-blown psychosis. After many years of trying to get Dune off the ground, David Lynch was seen as more reliable, after requests such as getting studios to fund Dali being paid $100 000 a minute. Jodorowsky’s statements in the process of filmmaking are as poetic as the range of symbolism which is found on the screen.
“If industry is the goal, I want to lose money! I stop to make pictures to economise for 22 years! Picture is business. To make fancy goods is to make money – but when the goal is not the work, the work will lose the goal. The goal is art. And what is the goal of art?” he asks world-famous curator Hans Ulrich Obrist in Picturehouse Central, London, at this Serpentine Gallery preview of his first film in 22 years. Alejandro answers his own question: “First, the goal of art, is to heal myself – to heal is to show somebody what he really is – because they want you to take all the limits – I will be myself. And what is myself? I don’t know – I will find.”
“Second: To please the person who is searching for something different. Music and action, they are so expensive. So be kind, go down, lose money. This picture is not commercial but not boring.”
A true revolutionary poet. Born in Chile in 1929, Jodorowsky’s art is testament to the blood, cosmic energy, and full-gut-exorcism of soul that goes into the making of epics such as the psychedelic bloodbath which is Santa Sangre (1989). ‘Poets don’t have to explain themselves’ is a line which summarises the peripeteia of this latest offering, and sacrifice, Poesia Sin Fin. It is a paean to his youth, struggling to find his voice, against the constraints of conservatism, and not for the first time he writes his way in front of the lens, and becomes the sage, sitting aside his own journey as the poet. There is flux between he and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan Labyrinth, the first scene opens in pre-revolutionary Chile, in Santiago, his vocation to be a poet, battling his family: “My father, a Stalinist, a communist. He believe in nothing.”
With battles for fabrics, and supporters of the regime/re-scheme wearing masks, waving Nazi flags, freaky Hitler played by a little person, only to be counterbalanced by later lovemaking to his best friend’s girlfriend who has achondroplasia dwarfism, it all goes on with Ibanez, the former dictator, riding through town on a horse, but his presence fades:
“[It was] a time of happiness – half of the country was for the Nazis, half of the country was drunk and to read poetry…” he explains to the audience.
It’s all very Soho of yore. There are earthquakes when you see how he’s been brought up, with the sacred temple of a Lynchian-bar, Blue Iris where poets and muses meet. There are gay zombies in a far darker joint, the Mute Parrot, and as he did in the eighties’, writing the Incal series of sci-fi comics, he creates a familiar ‘Jodoverse’ in Poesia Sin Fin. As reflected in his psychomagic writing, where he suggests we are either victims or freed from our family genealogy through our actions, he embraces filling a film with those he loves. (He tragically lost one son to an overdose, after he featured in Santa Sangre.) Poesia Sin Fin stars two of his other sons (with different mothers) Adán and Brontis (who’s been in most films), the music is also by Adán, and the costume, by his amazing (fourth) wife, Pascale Montandon. She is a painter, an artist, and they are very good friends with Azzedine Alaia in Paris, where he has largely been based since the 50s. “Azzedine Alaia, he has collaborative space – for 74 years I search the ideal woman – I marry three times – and then she was there and immediately she is there but 45 years before me – so we decide – we cannot have children – we need to do something together – so to seduce her I make fantastic paintings, to seduce Pascale! But to make something together, work together is happiness…To work with the person you love – fantastic.” They are holding a joint exhibition at Alaia’s studio next year, it was said.
Here’s hoping Poesia Sin Fin may be more of a commercial hit than he’s ever known. Monocultural imperialism means the world is starving for mindbending culture. From lines about ‘vomiting bitter tears’, to his confession to Olbrich: “In the moment I write the poem, I go free. I start to live like an artist. And the art changed my life. I have no age. No nationality. No culture. No nothing. From 4 years old – they took everything. The second war was a party on TV only, and the radio. In Chile we produce copper and saltpetre. I have a limit. I burn all my photos. Say goodbye to my family, my friends, into the ocean – I kill myself in this way because I want to open my mind from limits. Don’t count your years, count your transformations. And there is no past. Where is the past? The present is in constant reformation like a river – the sun, the moon , is in this moment.” Yet this is a man with a past that is worth exploring, and it’s great to see where it’s got him.
“I met a nun in the south of France. ‘Where is god?’ I asked, ‘He is not here.’ ‘He is anywhere,’ she said. So what is here? ” And the shaman delivers: “Now we are at the centre of the universe. And what is the universe? It is unity and humanity. Everyone is you and you are the others.”
Peace out, poets.
POESIA SIN FIN will be in cinemas in 2017.