DATE: 7/14/2011 | BY MING LIN
“Art is not art if it is incapable of healing.” This mantra has guided the explorations of Chilean filmmaker, playwright, composer, writer and occasional actor Alejandro Jodorowsky, yielding diverse and fantastical results. Jodorowsky’s contribution to Hatje Cantz and Documenta’s 100 Notes series, a facsimile of a 1974 illustrated diary, attests to this.The notebook bears the title “Dune” on its front cover. Presumably it was meant to be the director's notes for a film project based on the science fiction novel by Frank Herbert--a project which was never realized, for reasons which might be explained by the notebook itself. Martinez notes that the contents are completely devoid of any material relevant to Dune’s plot, instead featuring an inner dialogue concerning the history of the Marseille Tarot deck and the mental states induced by its messages. Images of the Major and Minor Arcana (the cast of benevolent and ominous characters that make up the Tarot deck) are featured, often cut up and reconfigured. Accompanying each of these permutations are diagrams and notes defining the altered states inspired or foretold by their imagery.Ancient eastern societies regarded words as entryways into the realms of the supernatural and divine. Writing these pictorial languages was both a mental and bodily endeavor--as the act of writing large strokes would enact a mimesis of the desired state or object. Similarly, the act of Tarot reading involves both a cognitive commitment and one’s physical presence during the reading. Jodorowsky's explorations in film also make use of this combinatory medium. The vibrant allegorical scenes of El Topo and Holy Mountain create visual poetry that is mentally stimulating while appealing viscerally with images of the body in acts of resistance, struggle and triumph. Martinez observes that Jodorowsky's explorations of the relationship between images, words, interpretation and behavior ultimately address "the chaotic totality of the unconscious.”
By way of introducing the labyrinths of this diary, curator Chus Martinez describes the director’s deep commitment to the power of “psychomagic,” a technique combining eastern mystical philosophies with western psychotherapy in order to heal emotional strife. In Jodorowsky's practice it is the marriage of word and image that makes for a more potent and pervasive remedy.
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