Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathAuteurs
Flaming Creatures (Smith, Jack), 1963Der Teufel ist eine Frau (Dietrich, Marlene), 1935

icon: previous page

kind of failure within the system, indeed the worship of this failure as a kind of scandalous and sacred immanence could oppose this machinery. Smith would go on to build several cinematic altars for Maria Montez, for instance in his best-known film, « Flaming Creatures» (1963), in which the actor, Mario Montez, best known from Warhol's films, appearing here under the name Dolores Flores represents another figure who embodied Smith’s notion of «perfect filmic appositeness:» Marlene Dietrich Josef von Sternberg’s «The Devil is a Woman.» For Smith it wasn’t only a question of recuperating figures from B-movies. Without wanting (or being able to) delve too deeply into Smith’s work here, let it be said, however, that it is rewarding to note not only how his films endeavour to radicalize truth (which emerges precisely through Smith’s failure in the face of convention), but also how he strives to ascend to the heights of Hollywood’s own ineffectual ‹tons of plaster.› In this undertaking, he not only proves his reverence for the ultimately subversive and thus honest failure of the Maria Montez vision, but also for the shortcomings of the machinery—the industry’s inability to extend its machinery to the


production of art. In turn, this failure is constitutive for the ‹successful failure› of the B-movie diva. So, just as he had faith in Maria, Smith asks us to have as much faith in what is, of course, his unsuccessful presentation of industrial failure. We are asked to perceive even more of a failure than there actually was. Of course, we cannot merely reduce Smith’s oeuvre to an exemplification of how failure may be regarded as an opportunity. However, Smith actually introduced the first completely developed aesthetic whose existence, to a large extent, is dependent upon both the futility of industrial cultural production and the attempt to escape it. In this aesthetic, garbage is defined as the useless (i.e. worthless), material leftovers of a culture industry completely focused on producing goods. Here, garbage does not simply provide a refuge or asylum from artistic truth, but became instead the sole possible location for its production. Smith’s fan, Andy Warhol, who will represent the next constellation in this argument, developed an opposing model along similar lines.

icon: next page