Essential Viewing | Jay Z's short art film Picasso Baby
Last week we mentioned that Jay Z's short performance art Picasso Baby film would be debuting on HBO this past Friday night. In case you missed it you can catch it here.
"Concerts are pretty much performance art ... The venues change. Just by nature of the venues, the performance changes. If you're in a smaller venue, it's a bit more intimate so you get to feel the energy of the people," Jay Z explains. Even more fascinating is listening to Hov briefly discuss the historical significance and influence of the arts scene on hip hop in its infancy. "When art started becoming part of the galleries, it became a separation between culture and even in hip hop, people were almost like, 'Art is too bourgeois, We are artists. We're alike. We're cousins."
After the brief intro it is then that Jay Z transforms himself into an interactive form of living breathing art at New York's famed Milk Studios. We see what happens when he performs his single for "one person at a time" rather than "60,000" as the film's director Mark Romanek has stated explaining the concept behind the performance. Jim Jarmusch, Alan Cumming, Fab 5 Freddy, Rosie Perez, Taraji P. Henson and a number of other leading figures and performers in New York's modern art circle appear - including Marina Abramovic whose interactive "The Artist Is Present" exhibit/performance served as inspiration for the project.
Interestingly, Jay Z appeared on Bill Maher's program "Real Time" just prior to the film's premiere, and it was Maher of all people who made a stunningly accurate observation: "You're not afraid to be ahead of your audience," to paraphrase. If there is one thing that Picasso Baby the short film demonstrates is, that first of all, Jay Z's audience cuts a large swathe. But secondly, with concepts and performances such as the one captured in Picasso Baby, Maher's observation certainly rings true.
So we all have to be asking ourselves now, "what's going to be next?"