Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bobby Fischer Dada

Harry Benson, A Horse Kissing Bobby Fischer, Iceland, 1972

      Encountering the exhibition announcement yesterday for “Bobby Fischer:  Icon Among Icons,"  now on view at the World Chess Hall of Fame (link)  in St. Louis, along with its online photo grouping, was unexpected fun.  Harry Benson's photos, so often seen in Life, Paris-Match and other photography-rich mainstream magazines, were always high quality entertainment and lovely to look at, but seeing Bobby Fisher kissed by a horse in Iceland in 1972 in beautiful black and white is very special.  The proto-punk incised leather visor Fischer portrait below, also from the Iceland series, reminds me a bit of  Russian Revolution pictures --  sad, seamy, edgy.  

 Harry Benson, Portrait of Bobby Fischer, Iceland, 1972

     The Hall of Fame exhibition runs until August 12th concurrently with another art show called "End Game" by Marcel Dzama, a contemporary Dadaist, whatever that means.   (Actually, the punk-Bobby photo below looks more Zurich Dada to me than the Dzama work shown on the Hall of Fame's website, which seems false and staged -- "dress-up Dada.")  Apparently, though,  Dzama, a Canadian artist, has been "celebrity-collected” by Jim Carrey, Brad Pitt, Leonard Nimoy, Spike Jonze, Viggo Mortensen, Gus Van Sant and Steve Martin, so who am I to judge?

World Chess Hall of Fame, Dada (Inspired) Party Invite

     A 4/27 party invitation in connection with the exhibitions appears above.  I understand you can RSVP on the World Chess Hall of Fame's Facebook page.  I won't be able to attend, but if anyone reading this does, please report back.  I hate missing a party and the Dadaists were known to give some great ones at the Cabaret Voltaire.

Hugo Ball at the Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich,1917

     Dada erupted in Switzerland as a sane/savage multi-media reaction to the the First World War's horrors and tragedies and I was thinking about that when I saw the journalist Sebastian Junger interviewed on television about his new book, War, and the non-profit group RISC  (Reporters Instructed In Saving Colleagues) he has established in the memory of his friend and fallen comrade, the photographer Tim Hetherington (killed working in Libya last year) in order to teach freelance journalists war zone self-help/first-aid techniques and strategies. 

Emmy Hemmings at (or near) the Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, 1917

     Junger says that most battlefield journalists (writers, photographers and videographers) are freelancers and they face greater danger than journalists having corporate affiliations because they are unconnected to support systems and lack knowledge for dealing with physical injury and obtaining medical aid when needed.  He believes that better preparation and training in these areas might have saved his friend's life.   The discussion was good and even inspiring until the interviewers began probing Junger about his general geopolitical outlook and recommendations for the lives of nations going forward, treating him more like a combination of seer and Bismarck than a presumably honest reporter with strong biases, prejudices and extensive, but still necessarily limited experience working in a few very specific contexts.  

    When  definitive, conclusory statements about disputed facts and figures and hyper-hypotheticals  began dominating the discussion, and one had a strong feeling that Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz and the Occupy Wall Street Chorus
were about to make an unscheduled appearance on-set, lucidity left the building and I thought that they might as well have been interviewing me, so I switched off.

Site of Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, 1935

   “News product” can be and is made out of anything and everything these days.  No one had the answers in 1916; No one has the answers now.  Sometimes I just wish someone would shout “Cut,” “Wrap,” and “Dada Happy Hour Is Now Being Served.”

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