NICK ZEDD on the passing of TAYLOR MEAD


Underground filmmaker Nick Zedd was a friend of Taylor Mead and featured him in some of his own films and video projects such as ECSTASY IN ENTROPY and ELECTRA ELF.

Nick provides an excellent and honest recollection on Taylor, thoughts on his passing, and related thoughts on the current societal clusterfuck in relation to art, and the world in general. Special thanks to Nick for permission to post his interesting insight obit on Mead here on AVA.


I met Taylor Mead in 1989 when we both acted together in a science fiction movie shot in the Hall of Science at the World’s Fair Grounds in Queens. I’d seen his acting in the seventies when I moved to NYC and saw Nude Restaurant, Lonesome Cowboys, Queen of Sheba Meets the Atom Man and The Flower Thief.

Taylor was a free spirit on film, exuding a peculiar elastic quality that was all his own…He had a languid goofiness that cut through pretension, an ability to hold your attention by virtue of an unexpected quality.

I used to run into him in bars on the Lower East Side where he always got free drinks. He would never want to talk to any female companion I might be with, but would converse about the Warhol years and other subjects. I was surprised at how politically conservative he was, defending the insane lunacy of the Cheney Bush junta’s wars of aggression which drained our economy and jump-started a new era of repression and naked imperialism that will no doubt result in the fall of the US empire and untold misery for millions of innocent people. Taylor’s political opinions seemed to have been inflicted upon him by the Fox News Terror Network, a source of malignant propaganda directed at misinformed old people too lazy to turn off their TVs. It was unfortunate that this barrage of poison had infected Taylor’s thinking, but politics had little to do with our shared lifestyles as underground outsiders and Taylor’s memories were feeble so there were no hard feelings when we’d meet.


Once we walked downtown from an event in Times Square, stopping on 6th Ave so he could leer at bodybuilders in a gym on 17th street. Later we headed to Bowery Bar, where his presence produced a Parting of the Red Sea and afforded us entry into a snooty, vile watering-hole for young urban professionals immersed in a particularly repellant form of toxic narcissism that inexplicably enthralled Taylor. As muscle bound Ken Dolls reached around Taylor to grab their brewskies while engaging in besotted mating rituals with assembly-line Barbie Dolls exuding a noxious inbred plasticity, I asked Taylor if this was his idea of “fun.”

“These are MY people!” he exclaimed. “You need to get out of the Lower East Side, Nick.”

In 1999, I directed Taylor in ECSTASY IN ENTROPY, wherein he gave a brilliant performance as a leering pervert in a lap dancing joint, shot in a place called Art Space (rumored to have once been a whorehouse) briefly the hottest experimental autonomous zone in NYC. After a year and a half of community board and police harrassment, the groundbreaking performance space was padlocked forever, another victim of unrestrained government fascism, killed by a vicious vendetta of busybodies with too much power on their hands. Half a block away, heroin dealers continued to peddle their wares on the sidewalk, ignored by the cops and community board nitwits who were terrified of the existence of real art in the LES.

Taylor would yearly appear at the Poetry Marathon at St. Marx Church, delivering rambling oratorios accompanied by a shabby cassette player; self-indulgent exercises in embarrassing egomania which seemed to enthrall the less discriminating sentimentalists in attendance.


Taylor hosted an equally self-indulgent stint at the now defunct Bowery Poetry Club, where on Friday evenings at 6 or 7 he’d fumble with his tape deck onstage and listen to himself talk while two bartenders rolled their eyes and waited for customers to show up. A few hours later, the place would be filled with pitiful amateur rappers boasting of their sexual prowess and animal machismo to an ugly crowd of clueless cretins who failed to tip the bartenders (who hated them.) By then Taylor was probably onto his fourth bar, filling up with free drinks before climbing 4 flights of stairs to his filthy apartment.

In 2005 I directed Taylor in the origin episode of ELECTRA ELF where he played Jennifer Swallows’ grandfather, shot in Taylor’s filthy one room apartment on Ludlow Street where he’d lived since 1979. Crawling with roaches and filled with trash and old paintings, this hovel was his final home in NYC until his greedy and disgusting landlord decided to embark upon a campaign of harrassment designed to drive Taylor crazy or kill him. Taylor stubbornly refused to be moved while the construction crews demolished the interior of his building until he ended up in the hospital and decided to accept a large sum of money to leave. A few weeks later he was dead, having escaped to live with a niece somewhere in the Midwest.


Such is the way authentic artists are now treated by the city of New York, forced to flee in terror by troglodyte landlords and hordes of yuppie scum, poisoning every inch of “prime real estate” in an orgy of predatory capitalism; a degrading devolution of life based on “profits,” “the bottom line” and creating a playground for rich, spoiled brats with nothing to offer.

Taylor Mead was a living embodiment of freedom and slack…and therefore had to be wiped out…but his legacy lives on in our memories and in the movies, writing and art he left behind, if anybody still cares.

-Written by Nick Zedd.

Nick Zedd’s facebook page featuring his paintings, musings and more is here.





“Taylor Mead is a performance poet, painter underground film star, comedic actor, astral clown, whimsical beatnik, refugee from old money, a true pop prince and the real son of Andy Warhol. Featured in over 100 films including many Warhol films, Mr. Mead is unequaled as the insouciant pop enigma who has seen everything and done it all.” – Penny Arcade

Taylor Mead passes on after a lifetime of art, much of which spent in the absurdist vein. Though his passing ends on a bitter note, the throngs of life/culture/societal clusterfuck having weighed down heavy during his last months. The same old song and dance it seems, gentrification and the trials and tribs of dealing with a system hellbent on getting rid of the old, and making way for the profit, damned the laws, screw the ethics… That story regarding Taylor’s recent struggles is written about here, wherein friend and photographer Clayton Patterson remarks about Taylor’s ongoing housing situation, “It’s going to kill him.”

An agreement apparently was reached in the last few weeks, but…

But it’s a sad tale, more than a few angles to ponder on art, the continual for profit growth paradigm in culture, and the end game to it all.

Put those absurdities aside and instead celebrate the experimental absurdity that was able to make some continual noise while alive, the “astral clown” as quoted above, Taylor Mead.

Taylor Mead, The Lower East Side Biography Project, excerpt from biography from Steve Zehentner on Vimeo.

Ann Arbor Film Festival 51 Review and Notes from Jon Jost (link)


The Ann Arbor film festival, the largest and longest running experimental/avant garde film fest, now in its 51st run, has been underway this past week. Filmmaker Jon Jost is in town, by chance, and gives his thoughts on the event, the selected films, and the current so called “Avant Garde” in general. In ’89 Jost won the Ann Arbor “Best of Fest” award with his experimental essay film “Plain Talk and Common Sense (uncommon senses)”

His summation, so far, is in line with the atmosphere I had expected: a nostalgia ridden regurgitation, with nothing really new, experimental, or avant garde.

Of a program made up of eleven films, each running from 2 to 30 minutes, I have to say there wasn’t one which I would call “experimental” or “avant garde” in any meaningful sense. Each was either an exhausted re-run of films I have seen 100 times (pixillated this, smashed and mashed filmic detritus as “style,” or run-of-the-mill animation, usually a bit on the messy side.)

As I mentioned elsewhere, their denial of digital (DV) works from the onset (late 90’s) began to cement their standing as no longer a relevant event for showcasing new cinema in the experimental and avant vein. They would eventually come around in 2003 with accepting digital, but not having understood the sped up digital environment and it’s future effects, they would find themselves 5 years behind the times, missing out on previous DV videomakers who were now morphing into HD experimenters, all the while ignoring the need to re-define just what “experimental” meant in present terms. Instead, satisfying the dominating nostalgia factor seemed to be of most importance. It seems the new works championed were re-hashed nostalgia factor films, playing up the usual “film leader” intro’s, scratches – now more purposefully placed, and other re-hash techniques. Nostalgia’s a bitch to break.

Jost mentions elements of the above and reveals that the majority present at the Ann Arbor fest, are not the young and the new, but the old entering the familiar museum. Instead of the young experiencing a breeding ground for current cinematic experiments, on a level to inspire/aspire to, works of such which flutter all around various corners of the internets, they are left to await the high horse nostalgia curtain to fall, so the welcoming aboard of a redefining of avant garde in the digital environment can, finally, take place.

Here’s the link to Jon’s post – AVANT HO



On the one year anniversary of artist Mike Kelley’s departure, an hour and a half interview from 2004 has now been uploaded by AVA’s own Eli Elliott (who also filmed the piece; interview was by Gerry Fialka). As previously mentioned, the tape recently re-surfaced a month ago.

Mike Kelley worked in various mediums using various materials. From drawings to found object assemblage to performance video art. He drew on American culture, popular image and icon, politics, perversion, and more. Kelley also wrote books and performed experimental music. He started doing art in the 70’s, eventually becoming a heavyweight in the art world. In 2012, at age 57, he decided to call it quits, and killed himself.

The interview is an interesting look for those who are Mike Kelley fans, as well as others who had always been curious about Kelley and his work, his motivations, thoughts, etc.

What we also get is a good glimpse at Kelley’s character; the slightly nervous, hopped up, pissed off, and eerily emotional “boo-hoo” mannerisms. All of which can perhaps be a smattering of crumbs which help digest at least a little understanding on his choice to end his life one year ago.

Somewhere towards the very end of this interview Kelley breaks down, tears swell up seemingly out of nowhere, his voice heavily cracks; an instantaneous breakdown. I think this speaks of perhaps susceptibility to reaching such sudden emotional lows, which may have been the ground for going through with the action of ending it all.

Artist Mike Kelley Interview:

Mike Kelley – “Art is about Fucking Things Up”




A thought to be lost video interview of the late artist Mike Kelley was recently uncovered by Los Angeles artist Steve Craig.

Eli Elliott who had shot the interview, curated back in 2004 by Gerry Fialka, had been scouring his storage lockers for the past year after Mike’s death, for the tape. Elliott had actually left the tape with Craig years prior, and on a recent return to L.A. it was uncovered.

The full interview will be uploaded here on Absurdist Video Art on February 1st, 2013.

In the meantime Elliott has uploaded some nice nuggets of Kelley talking frankly about art and the avant garde. These brief pieces reveal some strong emotion and passion for what Mike was doing, as well as frustrations about the way the world was turning.

Eli E. and Kelly B. – Improvisation Collaborations 2012



Recently a collaboration took place between two Absurdist Video Artists, Kelly Broich the ringleader of COLLLAPSE productions, and Eli Elliott who’s been traveling around via greyhound bus . He recently made his second visit to Collapse Studios in Boise, Idaho. The last time, a few years ago, a number of shorts were shot, and a feature film was rumored to have been completed (yet never released).

This time around a series of improvisational pieces were performed, filmed and edited.
The “Eli E and Kelly B Sessions” proved to maintain, if not improve upon, the oddity, absurdity, and bizarro visual imagery of their cinematic collaboration history.

Here are the completed sessions:

“You Can’t But We Can” is a sequel of sorts to an earlier performance between Eli E and Kelly B called INCHWORM . This time around “the band” expands a bit while the sounds improve.

Kelly B brings back his character JIMMY for this brief trigger piece. Eli plays Jimmy’s pink colored seizure.

The two turn to brutally subjecting the viewer with an 11 minute aurora of audio “sound healing”. Theta Brain Wave Therapy.

Kelly B. performs a shop-vac solo:

Apparently, Eli E. underwent a “screen test” for an upcoming production slated for 2013.

Some avant garde penis enlargement commercials were also filmed, but were quickly banned from YouTube and 5 other video sharing websites.

New Harmony Korine Film (Free on YT) : THE FOURTH DIMENSION

Korine is one of three directors in this ‘feature trilogy’ which was released on YouTube a few days ago. Watch below.

The début release by Grolsch Film Works and VICE Films brings together an immersive trilogy by Harmony Korine, Alexsei Fedorchenko and Jan Kwiecinski. The three filmmakers have created three unique stories that offer up their vision of this higher plane of existence, the Fourth Dimension. Each filmmaker takes his character on a journey that changes the way they see the world and themselves. And each filmmaker will offer a different perspective on what the Fourth Dimension is.

The Ray Carney Absurdity Pt.2 – PETITION POSTED

Following up on a previous post regarding film professor and independent art film supporter Ray Carney and his hoarding of filmmaker Mark Rappaport’s film prints, a brand new petition emerges which moves the matter even more action orientated forward into the public internet realm, encouraging all to sign who want to show support for an artist who has become the victim of an “inside job”.

from the petition:

This is an appalling situation which we demand Carney rectify by returning to Mark Rappaport all of his materials. This is especially shocking in the so-called “independent” film world in which people struggle for years to make films, with very little if any recompense.

To see and/or sign the petition, go HERE.


Damon Packard has a new absurdist film out called FOXFUR, which premiered in late July at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, and is now available on DvD.

Foxfur takes place in current day Los Angeles and features the main character, Foxfur, a young woman seemingly caught in between alternate realities, eventually learning that the world ended in 1982.

But first there’s a manic rush to get to a new age bookstore to find some answers regarding rumors about the fate of real life UFO heavyweight Billy Meier and alien conspiracy theorist Richard Hoagland.

Absurdist conflicts occur as Foxfur’s friend, Khris played excellently by Khris Kaneff, attempts to drive her to the bookstore in his running out of gas van, yet goes through a tension building series of mishaps and missteps along the way.

Packard is best known for his masterpiece REFLECTIONS OF EVIL from 2002. Since then he’s created a vast number of works from short vignettes to longer pieces like the Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary (2003) and Tales of the Valley of the Wind (2009), two very different works.

FOXFUR marks a return to more of a, long awaited, Reflections style film, only this time with a fraction of the budget as the “finished” film reflects.

It’s a botched film as Packard likely recognizes, but as viewers and fans of Damon’s work will recognize going in, it’s a Packard picture, and only Packard can make a botched piece of cinema, actually work and work well.

Foxfur treads those outer boundaries of “working well” as a finished narrative work and I would guess it probably came out to be some bastard cousin of the originally intended script. But there’s a lot of great scenes and a lot of good well performed absurdist acting; it’s still a great watch, it’s still a Packard.

Many of the “mistakes” probably make it for the better as well. The fact that the lead character of Foxfur is played by several different actresses due to not being able to hold on to one actress for extended periods of time (and with no attempt to try and use similar looking actresses) actually works out great and this casting mishap is integrated into the story. Kaneff’s character plays along with absurdist confusion as one scene transitions to the next and a totally different Foxfur appears, “you’re not Foxfur?!” as a three stooges Packard edit assist head shake follows…

The Foxfurs

Reflections of Evil was also fractured and loose, yet hilarious and relevant; probably one of the best Los Angeles films of all time, showing the city raw and the characters everyone in L.A. encounters.

Foxfur also plays up the L.A. scene by featuring “The Boddhi Tree”, a real life new agey bookstore, a spiritual go-to trendy’esque hangout for the classic Los Angles yoga-spiritual wannabe or otherwise crowd. Some scenes are shot inside the Boddhi Tree and Packard has an actor playing David Icke, who works the front counter.

Many will jump the gun and think Packard is making fun of Icke, Meier, the Boddhi and “stupid people”- as I recall one reviewer writing – altogether. But that’s not the case, just as he wasn’t making fun of Spielberg in a Reflections scene, though it may have seemed that way. Through Packard’s lens it’s more of a celebration, recognition, even admiration of these people and our relationship to them whether as followers or forced observers. Packard probably likes Icke. I think it’s more of a recognition that these places, these people exist – not positive nor negative – they’re just here and that’s cool, let’s celebrate, recognize, have fun with it.

Ultimately it seems the budget and passing of time got the best of Packard. He seemed to go as far as he could go with this one, until it was just simply time to stop. Dump what you got into the timeline, manipulate and re-master PackardVision style, slave away at a video and audio edit, and export the motherfucker.

Foxfur ends abruptly with a scene that may have been meant not as an ending, but as an opening sequence. It’s actually a beautiful scene, with yet another new Foxfur actress, and we finally learn more about what the previous hour was supposed to be about, and then we quickly learn that another gladly accepted hour of this movie, is non-existent. You can almost hear the last dime from the Foxfur film budget drop to the ground as suddenly the scene ends, and the credits roll.

You can message Packard on Farcebook to inquire about buying a copy of FoxFur.


NICK ZEDD appears to be returning to filmmaking with a “historic motion picture” to be shot in Berlin and is seeking the funds to make it happen. This film could bring back a long ago deceased underground film energy/environment, and new recognition for subversive appreciation. He’s done it before by more or less starting the Cinema of Transgression and seems to be prepared to subvert the scene once again with new energy and a well thought out film structure as can be seen in the kickstarter description (link below).


Nick Zedd needs your money to make a film. His role in the world of underground film can’t be underestimated, from launching the Underground Film Bulletin through to the Cinema of Transgression manifesto, he’s left his cultural mark. Add to that some great movies (re-watch War Is Menstrual Envy and tell me its not a visionary piece of cinema, or Police State as a classic of the Cinema of Transgression, plus a dozen other cinematic blasts) and his general and on-going presence as cultural troublemaker, plus he wrote Bleed which is a classic rant that you should all have read. So, try and pledge something, however small…

(Video is not embedding on this site, click the kickstart link below for the vid)