James Franco as Bruce Nauman
The Artist-Actor Puts On A Good Face in Alison Chernick's New Video Series
Most of us know 32-year-old actor James Franco as that adorable kid from the TV show Freaks and Geeks, who went on to leading roles in Spider-Man, Milk, and the soon-to-be-released mountain climbing adventure 127 Hours, from director Danny Boyle. What many perhaps don't know is that Franco now identifies himself as a visual artist. He's enrolled at the respected Rhode Island School of Design, and, through the end of October, his short films, drawings, photographs and sculptures are on view at New York's Clocktower Gallery. Recently there's been something of a convergence between Franco's artistic interests and his acting choices. While at work on a book of short stories, he starred as poet Allen Ginsberg in the recently released Howl, and, in a self-referential move, appeared in a number of episodes of General Hospital as the artist "Franco," turning a soap opera into performance art. Considering such extra-curricular activities, and capitalizing on the concept of celebrity itself as a ready-made artwork, Alison Chernick cast the Renaissance man in today's film, James Franco as Bruce Nauman, a contemporary update of Nauman's Art Make-Up video piece from 1967, shot on location at the Standard Hotel, New York. The themes the artist was exploring seem perfectly in sync with Franco's own hall-of-mirrors aesthetic: "make-up," the stuff an actor smears on his face, assumes a double entendre as a verb-to make up, the very essence of any creative act. The video is the first in a new series by Chernick in which contemporary artists are enlisted to star in remakes of seminal video artworks, prompting a dialogue between the original artwork and the artist reinterpreting it.