Star Spangled to Death
27 March–29 May 201027 Mar–29 May 2010
Ken Jacobs recently released Star Spangled to Death, an epic six-and-a-half-hour cine-collage that he began making in 1956. It has been described as ‘an exhaustive, sprawling history of America … as seen through the eyes of those on the margins’. Star Spangled to Death maps everything that fascinates and distresses the filmmaker about his country, presenting America as imbroglio of warped ideologies. The film intercuts found footage (including a Nelson Rockefeller campaign film, inflammatory racist cartoons, and old-time nudie shorts) with whimsical footage Jacobs shot between 1957 and 1959 featuring two of his outcast artist pals: avant-garde legend Jack Smith, who wanders the streets dressed in outfits improvised from garbage seeking to engage strangers, and frustrated tenement-dweller Jerry Sims, who complains endlessly about anything and everything. The New York Times called it ‘the ultimate underground movie, subversive, and frequently hilarious’.