Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, Reinterpreted
Last Thursday, the Museum of Modern Art opened its billion-dollar doors after hours for PopRally, a multi-media dance party and performance event held at MoMA or P.S.1 in Queens.
Tonight’s event is called “60 Seconds of Fame,” and it coincides with the Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures exhibition currently showing on the Sixth Floor through March 21.
Motion Pictures focuses on some of Warhol’s films such as Kiss (1963) and Blowjob (1963), a continuous, 41-minute long close-up of a dude leaning against a wall and, well, “getting his cock sucked.” Blowjob isn’t interesting for the content of the video—it doesn’t matter whether he is or isn’t getting sucked off. Your reaction to it and the absurdity of a porny video like that existing within the art-historical canon and displayed in a museum makes it most compelling. I stood there as people, guys with their girlfriends mostly, were mesmerized and cheered the getting-sucked-off dude on. “How long is it? 41 minutes! Alright! Now that’s what I’m talking about!” is what one guy said. Tina, the girl I was with, was like, “That has to be a guy doing it. There’s no way a girl would suck a dick for 41 minutes. I got TMJ in my jaw!”
Then there were the Screen Tests, those beautiful, constantly moving cinematic portraits of Andy’s favorite people. Edie Sedgwick was there. Lou Reed and Allan Ginsberg, too. Baby Jane Holzer brushed her teeth over and over for us, an erotic gesture in its own way.
But the most captivating Screen Test was the one of Donyale Luna, the first important black model of all time. Donyale sits there, her face carved out of beauty, vogueing for the camera—working her eyebrows, her cheekbones, her lips, fingernails. Donyale’s star power fills the room, and all the other Screen Tests seemed boring compared to her.
With the help of New York-based artist Conrad Ventur, tonight everybody is invited to film their own 60 second screen test—“60 Seconds of Fame.” As with anything in New York, you waited on line, about 30 minutes, and when it was your turn you went in front of the camera, giving face. One couple kissed in their video, but most people just sat there. A few minutes later, your portrait was blown up and displayed on the walls of the soaring second floor Atrium, where the party was. It was an amazing experience to reinterpret the relevance of Andy’s Screen Tests—especially in our digitized, news feed, profile-based culture where everything has a camera, and behind every photo is an opportunity for yet another profile pic.
You can make your own Screen Test here.
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