Artaud: The Screaming Body: Film, Drawings, Recordings 1924-1948
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Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) remains one of the most inspirational, provocative and challenging figures in world-wide contemporary culture. His trajectory extends from the Surrealist movement, to the Theatre of Cruelty, to the lunatic asylums of France, and finally back to Paris and the most astonishing period of his work. In this unique book, Stephen Barber explores the most violent extremes of Artaud's vision - work that is traversed by forces of ecstasy and annihilation, and sutured together by a raw imagery of the screaming human body. Based on extensive interviews with Artaud's closest friends and enemies, including the psychiatrist who gave him electro-shock treatment, ARTAUD: THE SCREAMING BODY gives a full and authoritative account of Artaud's film projects, and his conception of Surrealist cinema. It also examines his unique series of drawings of the fragmented human body, begun in the ward of a lunatic asylum and finished in a state of furious liberation. Finally, the book captures Artaud's ultimate experiment with the screaming body in the form of his censored recording "To Have Done With The Judgement Of God" -an experiment which is unprecedented in the history of art, and which ultimately decimates that history.
writer, they were intrigued by his spells, and initially encouraged him by giving him a wide range of different coloured inks to use. (After the German invasion, the already dire asylum conditions worsened; the doctors had more pressing preoccupations, and Artaud simply disappeared for a period of three years into the huge asylum’s ocean of insanity.) As with the spells which Artaud had sent from Ireland, the intent of these new objects oscillated between assault and protection. At the start of
Ferdière is one of the greatest criminals in the entire history of humanity: a new Eichmann”, and demanded his immediate arrest, claiming that he was directly responsible “for all of the social and individual disasters which have taken place in France since May 1968”. In the case of Ferdière’s second radical treatment, art psycho-therapy, he found that Artaud was very far from being an ideal subject, since he believed that the therapy functioned well only with patients who had no artistic
acting in films and preparing his “Theatre of Cruelty” spectacle, The Cenci, for which Balthus would design the sets. Although Balthus was very young at the time, he already possessed, for Artaud, an archaic, intentionally obsolete aura: his work had preoccupations which no other artist of the time had, and he was an artist immersed compulsively in his own work, depending for his income – like a Renaissance painter – on a very small group of collectors and patrons, rather than from active
(albeit two very disparate marginalities) by writing on his work. In February 1947, during the same period in which he was working on his essay about van Gogh, Artaud wrote two short texts on Balthus’ work. Neither of the texts would be published at the time: one text, entitled Balthus, first appeared in the catalogue of a Balthus retrospective at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1983; the other text, Facts Going Back To 1934: The Misery Painter, was published in a French art magazine, Art
an upbeat ending, with the vampire redeemed and society saved from further destruction. Artaud sent another of his horror film projects, The Monk, to the founder of the Italian Futurist art movement, F. T. Marinetti, who by this time had become an official poet of Mussolini’s fascist régime and an influential figure in mainstream Italian cinema. (Artaud’s project, and his request to be employed to direct films in Italy, were ignored by Marinetti.) Many of Artaud’s commercial scenarios of the