Bruce Bickford: Feats of Clay

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NB. This is a cannibalised, barely-recognisable version of an article originally written in 2010 for a now-offline website. The original article holds the rare distinction of being a piece I was actually paid to write.

To the long-suffering near-masochists known as Zappa fans, the unmistakeable work of Bruce Bickford is a familiar sight. Easily the best thing about Baby Snakes, his fascinating animated sequences mitigate against the longeurs of Roy Estrada and that doll. But Bickford has had a long career independently of Zappa’s patronage, and is perhaps the only outsider artist to work in the medium of animation. A personal appearance at London’s Horse Hospital in 2010 – along with a screening of the documentary portrait Monster Road and of his film Cas’l – still seemingly a work in progress at that time – offered a chance to find out more. Continue reading

Jan Lenica’s Ubu et la Grande Gidouille (1979)

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Jan Lenica’s 1979 feature length animated film Ubu et la Grande Gidouille is his most ambitious work: boldly designed, assertively crude in its animation and subject matter, and most importantly, it is bitterly, unsparingly satirical. Ubu┬áis a testament to a long career straddling the avant-garde and the commercial. Although Lenica lived until 2001, he worked only sporadically in animation afterwards, focusing instead on teaching and design. This was his chance to make a grand statement; to express his disillusionment at the failed promise of artistic and political ideals. Continue reading