Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ultra Violets are Blue

"...The dog was not on drugs, and the cat was not on drugs, and I was not on drugs." -Factory Superstar Ultra Violet on Warhol's Factory

The tragic demises of factory girls Edie Sedgwick and Nico make it initially hard to believe fellow Warhol Superstar Ultra Violet's claim that she remained relatively sober through those wild Warholian years. But seeing her up close and sharp as a tack at 74 in David Henry Gerson's new short film Ultra Violet for Sixteen Minutes reveals she really may have been as clean as the cat.

Mr. Gerson met Ultra (legally Isabelle Collin Dufresne), still a fixture at gallery openings in New York City and usually recognizable in her signature purple garb, several years ago. At her urging, they decided to embark on documentary about her extraordinary life, starting as child in France excommunicated from the Catholic church who found her way to the United States as a young woman. Once in the states, Isabelle became first assistant and then mistress to Salador Dali who would introduce her to Warhol. She took her place as a “Warhol Superstar” for several years, then later went on to become Ed Ruscha’s mistress. After years of artworld debauchery, Ultra left Ruscha and found God, and has since become an active member of The Church of Latter-Day Saints and an artist in her own right.

The film has deep religious themes and explores Ultra's role as a serial disciple-- of Dali, of Warhol, of fame, and of God. I spoke to filmmaker David Gerson and he described her disciple-ship as linking the contemporary fame/celebrity conversation to a 5000 year old history, which seems like a nice way connect it all. Art, fame, genius, celebrity, religion--there are some things so seductive and beautiful that they just cannot be denied. Yet Ultra Violet is as much the seducer as she is the seduced; you only have to look at her photo (above), list the great men she's captivated, and listen to her engaging life story to realize as much.

Check out the film’s review over at the Huffington Post, and see David Henry Gerson's Ultraviolet for Sixteen Minutes June 18th at the New Jersey International Film Festival. For additional show dates and information about the film, visit its website.