William S. Burroughs: commissioner of sewers

Germany, 1986

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Arguably Burroughs is the greatest talent to emerge from the “Beat” generation. In his novels, poetry, films and performance he has created an oppositional and profane aesthetic which continues to inspire contemporary artists and writers who refuse to - or cannot - work within the mainstream. This video features footage of Burroughs reading his poetry, excerpts from films by Gus van Sant, Antony Balch and Klaus Maeck, as well as a long interview where the writer explains his ideas on artistic inspiration; his belief that language is constituted as a virus; his use of “cut-up” and “fold- in” to represent contemporary experience of space and time; and the value of dreams for inspiration. Abrupt, unapologetic and disturbing this documentary reveals Burroughs as possessed of a profound intelligence, and as having the genius to translate his questioning and doubt into innovative and powerful art.

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Klaus Maeck

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