Part of Summer 2007
This selection of works from the late 1960s reflects the vibrant spirit of free exploration by the Counterculture. Rejecting the strictures of the squares and their square world, the Hippies espoused ideals of love, harmony and Flower Power. Seeking new consciousness and expanded awareness, they experimented with transcendental meditation, Eastern philosophy, communal living and psychedelic drugs. Opened minds sought freedom in the extreme incarnations of expression and love. Fuelled by drug use, but also a sense of invincibility, theirs was a laboratory of infinite play and possibility, where deleterious consequences were denied. It was a time of Utopian dreamworlds that might now seem absurd, benighted or even dangerously untenable. Even so, its social upheaval ushered in greater individual freedoms for all elements of Western society. Not surprisingly, it broke open the ways young artists and filmmakers approached their work.
Some of these films from the late 1960’s are wildly psychedelic; others merely observe the party. Featured are portraits of the L.A. Love-In, the San Francisco Be-In and Yayoi Kusama’s polka-dot Happening in Manhattan; Ira Cohen’s rediscovered cult classic Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda (with soundtrack by Angus MacLise, original drummer for the Velvet Underground); Torontonian Bob Cowan’s Rockflow (with music by the Chambers Brothers); and Ira Schneider’s Sony Portapak view-from-the-crowd at the notorious Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway, where the ripped Hell’s Angels security attacked audience members and stabbed one to death.