Alex Da Corte & Jørgen Leth: Eminem and Warhol
Two American icons portrayed eating. Young Alex Da Corte, who impersonated Eminem for a year, was inspired by film director Jørgen Leth, who made an iconic scene with Andy Warhol. Here they meet on stage to talk about the stunning parallels.
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‘Andy Warhol Eating a Hamburger’ was originally produced for Jørgen Leth’s documentary film ‘66 Scenes From America’ (1982). Warhol – a hugely influential and important figure on the 1960’s art scene – was the young director’s hero: “I was inspired by him. We considered him an icon, an inspiration, a mentor also.” But Leth wanted to make a positive portrait of America and simply knocked on The Factory’s door to ask his hero to participate in the film. Warhol agreed, perhaps because, as Leth explains, “it was a pure Warhol scene – eating a hamburger, that’s him!”
The film of Warhol was a massive inspiration for Alex Da Corte when he was introduced to it in art school: “I think this is the only portrait that exists of Andy Warhol – to watch someone eat is to see someone at their most vulnerable and basic state. It’s like watching someone breathe,” says Da Corte about the portrait. Leth agrees: “For me, it is a very dramatic scene. It seems very simple but it’s very dramatic.”
In 2013 Alex Da Corte paraphrased Jørgen Leth’s Warhol-scene in ‘TRUƎ LIFƎ’. It shows Da Corte dressed up as the rap musician Eminem eating a bowl of cereal. Seeing it for the first time, Leth is impressed. He compliments Da Corte calling his work very deep: “I’m proud of having inspired you to do that scene.” ‘TRUƎ LIFƎ’ was made when Da Corte spent one year living as Eminem, known for being a misogynist and a homophobe. “I thought: Can I adopt his persona to better understand him? Perhaps he’s just a misunderstood character, like Warhol was … I felt the best way to understand him was to live as he would.”
Alex Da Corte (b. 1981 in New Jersey) is an American artist who lived in Venezuela until he was eight and now lives and works in Philadelphia. Da Corte received his BFA from the University of the Arts and his MFA from Yale University in 2010. He has had solo shows and presentations at prominent venues such as the Mass MoCA, Massachusetts, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Carl Kostyal, Stockholm and David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen. Moreover, his work has been shown at MoMA PS1 and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. For more about Alex Da Corte see: http://alexdacorte.com/
Jørgen Leth (b. 1937) is a Danish poet, writer and film director, who is considered among the leading figures in experimental documentary filmmaking. He has made more than 40 films, among which he is particularly noted for ‘The Perfect Human’ (1967) (‘Det perfekte menneske’), ‘66 Scenes from America’ (1981) (‘66 scener fra Amerika’) and ‘The Five Obstructions’ (2003) (‘De fem benspænd’) made in collaboration with film director Lars von Trier.
Jørgen Leth and Alex Da Corte were interviewed by Christian Lund at the Art Alive festival at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark in May 2016.
Camera: Kris Tait, Klaus Elmer & Rasmus Quistgaard
Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016
Supported by Nordea-fonden