Sunday, 20 June 2010

Some Pointers

Arrows can be deceptive. This one’s pointing to the breasts so as to lead the viewer’s eye away from the groin – stop it straying up the skirt.

Now consider this postcard - a film-still - from the Sylvester Stallone movie ‘Cliffhanger’. The unfortunate red arrow coming out of Sly’s groin is a piece of climbing equipment known as a tape. The red arrow’s a warning: Stallone’s got krabs (sic). 
The belt of oblong metal clips - with spring and screw-gates – hanging around his waist are known as krabs. It’s no accident that ‘Krapps Last Tape’ is my favourite Beckett play. 
Stallone’s known as a ‘muscleman’ and the best krabs are harvested from the mussel beds of Sheffield (a ‘steel city’ – landlocked – miles from the sea). Crabs are associated with sand and sand can be found (in bunkers) on golf courses. Stallone’s wearing fingerless gloves: this is wrong. Climbers never wear fingerless gloves. Old man Steptoe: yes. Climbers: no. Are Steptoe and son, Vladimir and Estragon, in ‘Waiting For Godot’? 
I wear gussetless tights when I climb on golf courses, and golfers wear fingerless gloves. Even though fingerless gloves and gussetless tights never meet (touch?), there's a connection (and it doesn’t need an arrow to point it out). You can find arrows on golf courses; you can also find arrows in Francis Bacon's paintings. 
Light bulbs are another reoccurring theme in Bacon’s paintings. But I see the light bulbs in these Bacons as 'false beacons'. For me the real (hidden?) subject of these light-switching-on paintings is: one-arm, one-finger pull-ups: from false beacon Bacons, the finger beckons. And one of the greatest exponents of OFPs was the legendary German climber, the late Wolfgang Gullich (1960-92). Stallone saw Gullich performing one-arm one-finger pull-ups in a T.V. film and was so impressed he employed Gullich as his stunt-double – his doppelganger - in ‘Cliffhanger’. Gullich was killed in a car crash (he fell asleep at the wheel) shortly after completing the movie. 
An OFP from 1987: I took this photograph to the hairdressers the other day and said, "Make me look like then". 

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