Within the matrix of radical sexuality, intergenerational fraternity and publishing ingenuity suggested by The Temptation of AA Bronson, this screening proposes Charles Henri Ford (1913-2002) as an important kindred spirit for Bronson and the artists in the exhibition.

Born in 1913 in Mississippi, USA, Ford was a prolific artist, poet, editor, and filmmaker whose lifelong dedication to cultural experiment placed him at the heart of the most urgent literary and artistic circles throughout the 20th century. Ford published his first two poems in The New Yorker while still in his teens and proceeded to publish poetry in various magazines as well as launching a journal for experimental writing with Parker Tyler and Kathleen Tankersley, Blues: A Magazine of New Rhythms (subtitled ‘A Bisexual Bimonthly’).
After becoming a fixture in the expatriate literary community of Gertrude Stein’s Paris salon, in 1933 he and Tyler co-authored The Young and Evil, a novel whose pioneering and candid depiction of the queer underground in Greenwich Village led to the book’s censorship in Britain and the United States. From 1940 to 1947, Ford joined forces again with Tyler to publish View, a key independent magazine whose contributors included major figures in surrealist literature and art. Ford continues to be considered America’s first Surrealist poet and a precursor of the New York School and the Beat movement.

Ford became friends with AA Bronson in 1977 when General Idea rented an apartment in Manhattan across the street from the Dakota, where Ford resided. Their friendship was rooted in a mutual interest in magazine publishing (i.e. General Idea’s FILE and Ford and Tyler’s View). They shared many afternoon teas together looking at various esoteric chapbooks and other independent publications. Ford was featured in the New York issue of FILE, which General Idea was producing in the city at the time.

Ford’s first film, Poem Posters details the opening of his colorful graphic work at the Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery in New York in 1965. The film documents the exhibition and the myriad personalities that attended the opening, including Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, Gerard Malanga, Jonas Mekas, William Burroughs, Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank O’Hara, Parker Tyler, Virgil Thomson and a show-stopping appearance by Jayne Mansfield. The work was filmed collaboratively and includes camerawork by experimental film luminaries Warhol, Marie Menken, Gregory Markopoulos, Willard Maas, Charles Boultenhouse, Robert Whitman, Buddy Wirtschafter and Stan Vanderbeek.

This screening also includes a newly restored print of Ford’s extremely rare film Johnny Minotaur. Shot during a soujourn on Crete, the film revives the Minotaur myth in modern times and includes appearances and footage by Allen Ginsberg, Warren Sonbert and other British and American artists and writers who had migrated to Crete during the 1960s. Guy Trebay in the Village Voice commented, ‘Like his poetry the film is frank, American, homoerotic, mystically giddy and somewhat undervalued… As image poem, the film is inspired.’ At the star-studded premiere of the film, the socialite Mrs. William F. Buckley, Jr. turned to the surrounding members of the New York underground and to Dotson Rader—a leading chronicler of the campus revolution movement of the 1960s and, by many accounts, a former male hustler. She proclaimed, ‘Darling, there’s one thing you should realize. When the Revolution comes, after they get me they’ll be coming for you.’

Please note that this screening contains adult content.