“There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
– George Orwell, 1984
Fake news abounds; long live the post-truth era! Since our last issue, the world has become an increasingly strange and fantastical place. Orwellian ripples can be felt everywhere; in the internet echo chambers that define our worldview, in politicians’ disdain for objective truths and in the growing divide between us and them, whoever they are. The rules have changed: 2 + 2 can now equal 5, or indeed 5000. There is no limit to what we can make true, with a phone in our hands and a story to tell.
Although reality may now be stranger than fiction, or simply indistinguishable from it, there is a place where fantasy and artifice have always ruled: the Cinema. Beyond the silver screen lies escape, and the power to weave stories that transport, astonish and seduce you. Box office sales boom after a recession and we know why—escapism is healing. So, for our third issue, King Kong invites you to sit back, relax and enjoy the movie….
act 1: The Icons
Before Andy Warhol democratised fame and declared that, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, there was something otherworldly about stars. They existed on another plane, in the mystical land of Hollywood or in the squalid bedrooms of the Chelsea Hotel. In either case, they were the real deal. Our cover star, Naomi Campbell, possesses that intoxicating but indescribable quality that makes a true icon, in spades. “You can’t help but be captivated by her. It’s not charisma. It’s more powerful than that,” designer, Anna Sui has said of the power Campbell exudes. On the subject of superstardom, King Kong talks to ‘Club King’, Rudolf Piper and photographer and director of Downtown 81, Edo Bertoglio, about the genesis of the downtown New Wave scene that sprung up in New York in the 1980s and propelled the likes of Madonna, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Blondie to global recognition.
act 2: Setting the Scene
Before you can create the characters, you must create the world. That is the belief of Alex McDowell, founder of the World Building Institute and profilic designer. Using his pioneering, holistic approach, McDowell has designed the productions of such films as Minority Report, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Cat In The Hat and Fight Club, painting vividly detailed 3-dimensional backdrops that become as characters in themselves, informing and interacting with the action of the lm. Artist Gregory Crewdson is another proponent of world before narrative, building elaborate sets in order to create his charged, surreal snapshots of American suburbia. Somewhere between documentary and fiction, Crewdson’s work is concerned with the power of environment to inspire intense emotion, and how the inclusion of particular characters within the scene can heighten that power.
act 3: Something Radical…
Mad, bad and dangerous to know, innovators are often dismissed as troublemakers when they first appear—it takes a while for good ideas to settle in. The hectic, hallucinatory music videos of South African duo, Die Antwoord, are a prime example. The first viewing hits you like a high-voltage shock but by the time you’ve returned for a second jolt, you’re hooked. Here Yo-landi and Ninja tell us, in their own words, how they’re feeling about Die Antwoord and the future. And, Beware of a Holy Whore, warns filmmaker and provocateur, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, in his 1971 lm of the same title, referring to Cinema itself. We chose two images from Fassbinder’s filmography to open and close our Cinema issue, in honour of a filmmaker whose bold vision transcended appropriateness and shot straight for the truth.
act 4: Fake it ’Til You Make It
In Hollywood, it’s all about the image you project. Who cares if you made a flop, ran out of money, live in a motel—as long as you seem like a success, you’re going somewhere. Inspired by the bleach blonde, perma-tanned nymphets of Hollywood, our Guest Editor, Ana Lily Amirpour, casts cover star Sky Ferreira as the Siren of Americana. Her stage is a backyard—her throne a lawn chair—but she’s a star, nonetheless. Devouring hotdogs as she bakes under the California sun, she dreams of the big break that will save her before she sells herself short. Meanwhile, in Britain, the cult of celebrity rages just as hard and there’s nothing the public love more than a fallen woman. Iain Mckell samples the delights of the tabloid in all its muckraking glory, his rich photography lending a cinematic gravitas to the torrid mise-en-scène.
act 5: Resolution
Despite always looking for the Next Big Thing, Cinema does tend to recognise a classic when it comes along. The glitz and the glamour can be blinding but true talent and craftsmanship shine brightest of all, leaving a roster of original and authentic work that are enshrined in the canon. The filmography of documentarian, Frederick Wiseman, is one such history. From capturing the abuse suffered by patients in a mental hospital in the 1960s, to documenting the daily goings on in London’s National Gallery, Wiseman’s watchful, nuanced films are extraordinary studies of the human experience, across a wide variety of unique situations. Similarly, the endlessly inventive work of make-up artist, Isamaya Ffrench, identifies her as an icon of the future. For our Cinema issue, she transforms model Ali Michael and herself into the Girl and the Cat, characters in a classic ghost tale, set on the streets of Bologna and captured by photographer Joshua Wilks.
With that, there is nothing left but to request that you turn off all mobile devices in order to fully enjoy this cinematic experience. Enjoy the film…