Saturday, 23 June 2007

Lynch travelology

So it all started with a special screening of Inland Empire at the NFT... followed by a Guardian interview and a Q + A session with the great man himself. I very rarely get star struck but I couldn't help but be moved after seeing the amazing latest installment of Lynchworld, (which in itself is enough to bring me to tears of pure joy) followed by the one and only David Lynch in the flesh onstage. I stood up with the rest of the audience, stamped my feet and heartily cheered, only too happy to gave it up for one of my favourite people on the planet... what a special moment, indeed something to cherish forever. Mark Kermode proceeded to ask questions that struck just the right note, he is obviously a David L fan... I was in rapture and wanted the whole experience to last forever. I particularly enjoyed observing David's silhouette against the big screen as scenes from Blue Velvet, Eraserhead and Fire Walk With Me were projected directly behind him onstage. What an interesting experience it must have been for him to be so close to his creations in all of their grainy celluloid glory.Jump forward to a scorching hot day in Paris en route from our hotel on Rue de Vintimille to the Foundation Cartier pour l'art contemporain on Boulevard Raspail (via the Galerie du jour Agnès B, 44, Rue Quincampoix which had a show by Roberto Martinez called Artistes Encore Un Effort. The previous exhibition had been a collection of stills from Inland Empire, interestingly enough)... I already had a blister on my left foot after a marathon of fevered walking in Barcelona, (which we had just flown in from) and was on a mission to catch David's massive retrospective exhibition "The Air Is On Fire" before closing time as we were due to fly back to London the following day...phew. Anyone with a modicum of Parisian street knowledge and suss will tell you that this walk is epic to say the least... especially when you don't really know where you are going and are stranded without a map in the baking, febrile Parisian heat... we eventually found the Galerie du jour Agnès B in a condition that felt very much like our little British heads were frying on a very large French griddle... there is only so much culture that you can take in, in this state of enforced heat induced torpur, so after a brief visit to the gallery we decided to hop skip and jump onto the Metro to curtail our epic journey and arrive at the alter of Lynchworld refreshed and more attentive.This did not happen however... now I don't want to sound overly dramatic... but I was fucked... literally. The last 4 days had been consumed by Barcelona... constant movement and perpetual sensory overload. So here we were in Paris on the cusp of witnessing something that we had been looking forward to, and had planned for months, barely able to put one foot in front of the other. I distinctly remember handing my euros over at the entrance and then everything going into slo-mo overdrive. Like being trapped in a soundscape by The Caretaker... or the Double Leopards, I was awash in a world without gravity. I somehow managed to move into the main exhibition space on the ground floor desperately trying to keep my balance... this is the closest that I've ever come to complete physical exhaustion. Boy o boy what a state to be in to witness this amazing exhibition.I was in a state of complete shock to add to my exhaustion... a lot of these images were very familiar to me as I have actively followed his work since the early 80's when I first saw Eraserhead in Birmingham (of all places)... I have made sure that every ounce of Lynchian magic has not escaped my greedy grasp ever since... as fast as he produces it... I consume every last drop. (you get the picture?) So actually being able to see these works in the flesh, rather than looking at them in books or on the internet was positively mindblowing... of course there was still a lot of unseen gems to discover as well. It was emphatically transcendental being able to see his black and white photo's up close and personal... especially the snowmen series. The whole building was flooded with a soundtrack that he performed himself at the private view.... and added a suitably Lynchian aural landscape to the garden of earthly delights that was on show. The presentation of the work was very carefully considered and executed by the man himself and it was an absolute pleasure and a joy to get lost in the beauty of it all... his paintings, drawings, photographs... little scribbled notes from notebooks and various napkins. Everything that you ever wanted to know about this man was visible for all to see in his art work. Downstairs there was even a facsimile of the Eraserhead stage set where the lady from behind the radiator danced her beguiling two step, which housed a large screen where you could watch all of his short movies, website projects etc. You could also, quite literally, walk into one of his drawings ... I could go on and on waxing lyrical about this once in a lifetime show... the precious time that I spent there pouring over his unique vision will stay with me for a long time. After fully satiating ourselves we eventually arrived back at the hotel completely exhausted and overwhelmed by the whole experience. There was only one thing to do, get some sleep and dream of future endeavours.Sometime later back in London by pure unadulterated coincidence I found myself back at the NFT in the audience for a 'Masterclass with Mike Figgis'. To my absolute surprise and delight, before he arrived onstage there was an unscheduled screening of a small DV movie that he had made in Poland interviewing David on the subject of DV movie making!. Once again I was plunged into Lynchworld and I savored every single second of it... I love it when life springs these delicious little surprises on you..Which finally brings me neatly back to Inland Empire, which was shot on DV... but you already knew that right!. What a pleasure and an absolute luxury it is to lose yourself in this truly inspiring piece of cinema. At this point in time I feel that it is his most essential work. I defy anyone who has seen it and is open to the myriad possibilities of imagination, not to be stunned and intrigued by the scene towards the end of the movie where Laura Dern is staggering down Sunset Boulevard fatally wounded. She collapses on the pavement between three homeless people and expires... that is the end of that you innocently think to yourself... then a completely off kilter dialogue emerges from the three characters and you find yourself transported to another world. That is the beauty of David Lynch and that is the beauty of imagination... get on it.