Thursday, April 10, 2008

Outsider Art

Little Boy:
What is "rape"?

Little Girl:
According to the dictionary, it means to cut a girl open in order to see the insides.

Little Boy:
What are you trying to do? Make me sick before we go to bed?

Little Girl:
Well, you ASKED what "rape" is.

Henry Joseph Darger was a quiet, reclusive janitor in Chicago. After his death in 1973, at the age of 81, his landlords went about the task of cleaning out his small apartment...

There, they found a 15,000+ page epic (single-spaced, typewritten) entitled:

"The Story of the Vivian Girls,
in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal,
of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm,
Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion"

A description of the narrative:
The story recounts the wars between nations on an enormous and unnamed planet, of which Earth is a moon. The confict is provoked by the Glandelinians, who practice child enslavement. After hundreds of ferocious battles, the good Christian nation of Abbiennia forces the 'haughty' Glandelinians to give up their barbarous ways. The heroines of Darger's history are the seven Vivian sisters, Abbiennian princesses. They are aided in their struggles by a panoply of heroes, who are sometimes the author's alter-egos. The battles are full of vivid incident: charging armies, ominous captures, alarms and explosions, the appearances of demons and dragons.
He'd further fleshed out his story with detailed illustrations and paintings that he pieced together using collage and tracings. He used a variety of techniques to create his imagery, taping butcher paper together, painting art on both sides of the paper.

In addition to his magnum opus, he'd left another 15,000 pages in journals.

Jessica Yu created a fascinating documentary on the man and his work called "In the Realms of the Unreal", available on NetFlix's "instant view" service. Half the documentary looks like it was rendered using After Effects as his paintings are brought to life. Dakota Fanning provides some eerie narration.

On his official informational website, I noticed it reads "All images copyright © Kiyoko Lerner. All rights reserved". Kiyoko Lerner was his landlord. He had no family, so I guess she took ownership of his work when he passed.

The documentary's a few years old. Thanks to the SON OF THE MOURNING for giving me the heads up. There's a larger story in there that I'm curious about. Man spends a lifetime crafting a 15,000+ page illustrated war-fantasy, I'm surprised that no one's tried to publish it in any manner.


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