Thursday, March 20, 2008

Planet Jarmania

Last night I had the privilege of going to the Gaydar Nation preview night of the Derek Jarman exhibition that they are sponsoring at the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. It was a lovely affair which introduced me further into the life’s and works of Derek Jarman – a sadly sometimes forgotten British talent and institution I think this exhibition will improve this.

When I say it furthered my knowledge of Jarman the knowledge was sadly very limited. Now no longer so, I am much improved for it. I am not one of those gay men who says ‘woe is me I am gay and look how shitty life is for me’ I mean come on, I am very lucky to be in a family who are so not bothered about me being gay its fabulous, I can have a ‘civil partnership’ and I can adopt. Oh and I can kiss in public, not that I do but I don’t like that from anyone, gay, straight whatever. Get a room and get out of the path of my shopping mission.

I had never caged (I am not sure if I had been aware before or not) that gay men kissing was illegal until around 20 years ago. I also didn’t know who were responsible for this moving forward in the ‘public kissing movement it did’. Watching it on the screen I was moved deeply. As did the tale of Jarman and his HIV positive status and how he made himself a public figure who talked about his HIV status.

I have missed something, you see we got a private viewing of the gallery and the works but also of the documentary ‘Derek’ by Isaac Julien (see for more), who also put together the pieces of Jarman’s that have now been saved, some of which are on display at the Serpentine. You have to look at the beds on the walls. The rage and torment and sadness they convey is phenomenal!

Back to the movie… it was narrated by (and heavily featured) Tilda Swinton in the form of a letter that she wrote to him the day after he died of an HIV related illness. They had been friends for years and built a beautiful and creative friendship. It was her words and all the footage of the films he made, paintings he made, public speeches he gave that actually moved me to tears. You must go and see it whether you are an avid fan or have never heard of him – you will be converted, I have now ordered Sebastian, am going to go back to the Serpentine for the surround sound version of his movie ‘Blue’.

I found myself wanting to know this man, I am very sorry I will never get to interview him. Tilda says ‘I met you when I decided it would be fun to join Planet Jarmania for a while and see what happened.’ I left feeling that was exactly what I would have loved to have done. I must go and see Prospect Cottage and pay homage to him at his garden, he managed to grow plants in the grounds of a power plant where no one said anything could grow, just to see more of his life. So that’s that, do go you will be moved and in awe of this mans talents.

Another gay man I will be paying homage to this weekend is Oscar Wilde I am off to ‘gay Paris’ for a few days will report on all the adventures when I get back. Have a fabulous Easter one and all, if any of you have any suggestions of a good novel based in Paris do let me know. I have almost managed to finish devouring one of Jarman’s diaries!

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