The Franco-Chilean artist Alejandro Jodorowsky has so many facets, so many different talents that we can usually only apprehend one fragment or two of his œuvre. For some of us, Jodorowsky is the author of several comic books and graphic novels, including The Incal with his longtime brother-in-arms Mœbius. For others, he is a writer and a poet. For many, he is a figure of contemporary theater, and a mime alongside Marcel Marceau. For most, he is a filmmaker, the author of revolutionary, magical, and unsettling movies (El Topo in particular). For a few esthetes keen on esotericism, he is a Tarot master. Jodorowsky is also one of the few rare artists who are capable of turning Twitter into a poetic medium today. And the list goes on, for instance with his performances-happenings (taking place currently as well) or with his Fabulas Panicas.
Yet, in my eyes, in spite of so many remarkable creative endeavors, he is first and foremost the man behind a remarkable failure, the movie Dune. He is the man who tackled this universe of a book –without even having read it first– planning to make the most extraordinary film of all times. He is the man who persevered working on it for four years, engulfing in research the two million dollars Michel Seydoux, the producer, had provided. He is the man who wanted Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, Amanda Lear and Salvador Dalí (whose fee would have been a hundred thousand dollars a minute) to act in Dune, with a soundtrack featuring Magma and Pink Floyd. One day, sadly, this oversized project was gunned down in the name of economic realism; it had not been picked up by any of the major studios and so it was never completed, although it “inspired” Alien, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and a few other shameless copycats. In fact, the whole movie genre of science-fiction blockbusters spawned from Dune’s failure. The worst part might be that, afterwards, there were funds for David Lynch to commit the worst act of treason in the history of cinema: the on-screen transformation of a book as powerful as the Bible in an appalling Z-movie (let’s be charitable and not discuss Sting at all…). As Jodorowsky put it: “I have learned to fall a thousand times with fierce stubbornness until I knew how to stand up. I remember my old father who, as he was dying, feeling happy, said to me: ‘My son, throughout my life, I triumphed because I learned to fail.’”
Currently (and till October 31), one can discover Alejandro Jodorowsky’s work in Bordeaux, in CAPC’s great nave, and wander in the labyrinthine scenography Andreas Angelidakis has conceived. The Greco-Norwegian architect drew his inspiration from the game of Tarot: from the Tower to the World and from the Fool to the Lover, each element of the space contributes to the reflection on Jodorowsky’s “total” œuvre. From one discovery to another surprise, the spectator’s emotions are modulated and complexified. The artwork is total and, for the first time ever, the exhibition itself is total as well. (Not to be missed: four short movies –in the exhibition space titled The Hermit– in which the exhibition curator and CAPC director María Inés Rodríguez interviews Jodorowsky.)
Original publication date by Lunettes Rouges: October 17, 2015.
Translation by Lucas Faugère