Interviews, events, random musings, and now literature reviews. As of this post, an unmuted breed will also serve as a book club of one (unless, of course, any readers feel like joining me along the way).
The first book of discussion is “The Roh and the Cooked: Tony Conrad and Beverly Grant in Europe” written by Branden W. Joseph with an essay by Tony Conrad himself at the end. I’ve mentioned Tony Conrad in earlier posts and will likely continue to do so as his performance at version 15 of send + receive (photos here) made a lasting impression. (Side note: I found The Roh and the Cooked at the send + receive merch table, but you can buy a copy here.)
“The Roh and the Cooked” hones in on experimental cinema in Europe during the early 1970’s. Aside from Conrad and Grant (Conrad’s wife and creative collaborator), Joseph weaves in fellow European underground cinema influencers such as: Willhelm and Birgit Hein, Kurt Kren, Otto Muehl, Valie Export, and Malcom Le Grice.
Prior to this book, I had little knowledge of Conrad’s career outside of what he musically produced. “The Roh and the Cooked”, although only 105 pages in length, packs a serious punch (and I don’t use that term lightly). Within the 105 pages is Conrad’s essay: “The Eye and the Asshole: Otto Meuhl and the Extremes of Vienna, 196-” Conrad opens this essay with a quote by Otto Muehl where he states “I am for lewdness” and, after reading Conrad’s essay, I can see why he opened with those choice words.
Without going into giveaway detail, moments that stuck out to me were Conrad’s varied means of developing film. Conrad experimented with using food as a manner of film development in his works: Curried, Creole, and Deep Fried. Conrad also “pulverized a roll of film with a hammer, swept the pieces into a cheesecloth bag, flashed them once with light, developed them, and then painstakingly edited the roll back together for printing and projection.” (Joseph.46)
Would I recommend this book? Yes, given you have an interest in the subject matter. Would I reread this book? Absolutely. Except this time I would take time to watch clips of Conrad, Meuhl, Grant (and all others) as they are mentioned within to lend a greater context to Joseph’s words.