Nick Zedd is an artist from the New York City underground punk scene, who passed away earlier this year. Although mainly known for his films, he was also a painter and author. Nick spearheaded the movement known as Cinema of Transgression — kitschy, violent, sexy, shocking, and featuring a filming style that goes beyond description.Nick Zedd always felt there was no good way to describe his films other than to just watch and experience them yourself. Tompkins has been known for decades as a park where artists, punks and other creatives come together in different ways.Back in the 1980s-90s Nick Zedd was always pasting his art around and sharing his zines in Tompkins and the surrounding neighborhood. Which is part of what makes screening Nick Zedd's films here so special.
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Monday, February 28, 2022
Back in 1985, Zedd coined the term the “Cinema of Transgression” to describe the campy movies full of shocking sex and violence that he and other artists like Lydia Lunch, Richard Kern, and Kembra Pfahler were making on the Lower East Side. They were scrappy movies shot on 16mm often with pornographic punchlines.Among the social media tributes...
R.I.P. Nick Zedd, the NYC underground filmmaker who coined the "Cinema of Transgression" movement. pic.twitter.com/FxsqQLPsQk— Film at Lincoln Center (@FilmLinc) February 27, 2022
Farewell to American filmmaker Nick Zedd (1958-2022), who spearheaded the 'Cinema of Transgression' movement in the 1980s, edited the Underground Film Bulletin and joined the dots between Kembra Pfahler, Richard Kern, Tessa Hughes Freeland, Lung Leg and Lydia Lunch. pic.twitter.com/OveAVS3Jbh— Robin Rimbaud - Scanner (@robinrimbaud) February 27, 2022
Extremely sad to hear of Nick Zedd's passing. The real deal. His work (along with Kern, Lunch, Wojnarowicz, Dick, etc) is a necessary station for anyone with even half an interest in what lies beyond the gated enclaves of boundaried taste. A mad genius of the cinema.— thee deklane (@theedeklan) February 27, 2022
Zedd is survived by his partner of 15 years, Monica Casanova, his son Zerak and step-daughter Amanita Funaro.
RIP Nick Zedd, one of the realest to ever do it. Watched all his films (and public access work 🙃) in a 24hr period a few months back and permanently broke my brain in the process. Max respect to a true underground king! pic.twitter.com/QSmGGF3pi9— ᘻᓰᖽᐸᘿ 𝔹 (@_RareArt) February 27, 2022
Thursday, July 18, 2013
[From Police State. Willoughby Sharpe, left, and Nick Zedd. Courtesy Nick Zedd]
Nick Zedd is in town from Mexico City for a short visit... he is part of a program tonight at the New Museum titled "Moving Image Artists’ Distribution Then & Now." (Find more details on this here.)
And tomorrow evening, The New Museum is showing a retrospective of his work. Per the program:
Nick Zedd’s commitment to DIY artists’ film distribution helped sustain the MWF Video Club project. He will present and speak about his film work with Michael Carter of MWF. The program will include: The Bogus Man (11 min); Thrust In Me (8 min); Police State (18 min); War Is Menstrual Envy (excerpt; 9 min); Why Do You Exist (11 min); Ecstasy In Entropy (15 min); and Tom Thumb (3 min).
Nick Zedd coined and spearheaded the Cinema of Transgression film movement, directing forty-four motion pictures since 1979 and editing The Underground Film Bulletin from 1984 to 1990. Nick Zedd currently resides in Mexico City where he paints, writes screenplays, shoots videos, and publishes Hatred of Capitalism magazine. He recently presented films and artworks at the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, and received an Acker Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Avant-Garde.
Michael Carter is a poet, writer, performer, and cultural critic, living in New York City. From 1982–92, he was the editor and publisher of the quintessentially East Village literary and arts journal/zine redtape, and from 1988 to 2003 he was codirector of the MWF Video Club.
Ahead of his visit to the New Museum, we asked him a few questions about his feelings on New York these days (he resided in the East Village for years) as well as Mexico City, where he lives with Monica Cassanova and their son Zerak.
You had a retrospective in Brooklyn in January. Now this at the New Museum. How do you feel returning to NYC — even just for a few days?
I like returning to NYC to see how it's changed and meet old friends. I appreciate the energy of NYC and like to compare it to Mexico City which is so different. There's a sense of desperation in NYC that gives it an edge. I like to observe people. I'm appalled by the loud tourists and ugly humanoids everywhere. There are so many ugly people in NYC, it's incredible.
Yesterday I sat on a park bench in Union Square and watched lovers sit and talk to each other. A black teen with a doo-rag and a wife-beater t-shirt covered in tattoos was talking on a cell phone while his fat girlfriend in a striped dress had her legs draped over his. She waited while he talked to someone, then he embraced her like a small child and it really moved me. There was real love; fragile and fleeting. I'd witnessed something profound. He was beautiful. She was beautiful too. Their love made them beautiful. I wish I'd had a camera on me.
There's a treasure trove of culture in the museums and libraries in NYC and I like selling my art to collectors here. I lived most of my life in NYC so it's still a part of me.
Do you see any positives in Bloomberg's NYC?
The people, who exhibit the NYC strength and anger; the individuality of street people...I never tire of their quality of openness... working class people. They give the city a sense of conviction. A flavor. They're what make it interesting.
We did a Q-and-A with Lydia Lunch back in May. Her advice for emerging artists here: "Leave the country as soon as possible!" What is your advice?
The same. That's why I moved to Mexico. The U.S. is a dead zone for artists.
Do surroundings make a difference? Or do you think the creativity has to come from inside regardless of where you are?
It has to come from inside, but going somewhere unfamiliar can enable your creativity to mutate in ways you'd never expect.
How's life in Mexico City?
It's quieter and more peaceful. It has a magical quality that I'm still discovering.
[Poster courtesy of gallery.98bowery.com]
[Top photo via The New Museum]
Monday, January 14, 2013
From the EVG inbox...
NICK ZEDD & THE CINEMA OF TRANSGRESSION
9pm-late all nights
Glasshouse 246 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211(G to Broadway, M to Lorimer, or L/G to Metropolitan-Lorimer)
Entrance is free (suggested donation of $10 at the bar)
Leading figure in the avant-garde cinema and NYC underground scene of the 1980’s and 1990’s; Iconic filmmaker, writer, and painter, Nick Zedd returns to New York City for a festival dedicated to his work, providing New Yorkers with the rare opportunity to meet and experience this body of work.
In addition to coining the term “Cinema of Transgression” and critically framing the work of his contemporaries (as creator of Underground Film Bulletin from 1984–90 and writer of the Cinema of Transgression manifesto), Zedd is known for his low-budget films, paintings, and mid-2000’s public television series with Reverend Jen, Electric Elf.
For this event Zedd curated a special program with screenings of most of his works since the 80’s and hosting works of some of his peers in the Cinema of Transgression movement including films by Nicholas Abrahams, Tessa Hughes-Freeland & Holly Adams, Angelique Bosio, Richard Kern, Richard Klemann, Casandra Stark and documentary films by Mary Jordan and Andreas Troeger.
Here's a Nick Zedd Tumblr with more details of what's playing each night.
Zedd lived in the East Village for years... these days he's down in Mexico City with Monica Cassanova and their son Zerak. Here's an excerpt from Whitehot Magazine circa December 2011 on his decision to move:
I could have stayed in New York, but after awhile it became a self-imposed purgatory, going to court, fighting frivolous evictions and continually winning against a psychotic landlord, accepting the ugliness of gentrification and becoming more isolated as the city became a party to which I wasn’t invited. New people to collaborate with kept me there for decades; but they got fewer and farther between. Every scene disintegrated into petty backstabbing or was short-circuited by landlord harassment. A new crop of faux bohemians arrived as part of a sad, fucked-up Simulation. There were so many normal people around I became agoraphobic. They took over my building, paying exhorbitant rents, complaining about the sound of my feet.
Living in NY, your mind gets clouded by the struggle to survive with pointless tension; then you convince yourself you’ve accomplished something special by having one hour of peace a week that anywhere else would be a daily occurence. We put up with it for so long because we know that everywhere else in the country is even more boring. A false sense of self- righteousness infects New Yorkers after years of accepting miserable conditions, bad service and aesthetic ugliness in order to be part of a myth. The City is a good place for roaches and bedbugs but for humans it’s living death. What kind of a city would let the Mars Bar close?!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
A little late on this...there's a Nick Zedd retrospective tonight and Sept. 28 at the Gene Frankel Theatre on Bond Street between Lafayette and the Bowery. (Here's more on Zedd's Cinema of Transgression.)
What follows is Thrust in Me, a short Zedd did in 1985 with Richard Kern in the East Village. (Zedd has both lead roles.) The song is "John Coltrane Stereo Blues" by The Dream Syndicate.
Oh, please be warned if you're new to this. It's graphic. Very, very NSFW. Oh, and nice panoramic shot of the neighborhood at the 7:26 mark.