|GIGER IN NYC
Article by Shade Rupe
copyright 1998 Shade Rupe
In June, 1998, Grand Master Surrealist, HR Giger, spread his metallic wings and made way for the American city he finds most intriguing. He came to meet with friends, midwife the birth of his new offspring, and survey the site for a new Giger environment soon to grace the nightlife of New York City.
Breezing through the city, in witness to the massive changes always occurring in this real-life Gotham, Giger visited the Sony Theater in Lincoln Center, and took in the 3-D IMAX film playing there. Hopping a car, Giger travelled across the Brooklyn Bridge to visit his favorite American painter, shockmeister
and spotlight prankster Joe Coleman.
Arriving at Colemans home, a veritable museum of societal rejects and
medical anomalies, Giger was greeted warmly with a hearty hug from his
friend, and quickly began asking questions about this strange living environment he now found himself in, Joe Colemans Odditorium. Coleman, well known for his Doctor Mamboozoo stunts, not to mention his biting the heads off of mice, has amassed quite a collection of bizarrities over the years. He spent the next few hours giving Giger a guided tour of his
collection: a stuffed monkey hanging from the ceiling, various wax casts of
human heads and hands, exposed innards of a baby in wax, a stuffed cat and
muskrat, a deformed womans head and a baby monstrosity in jars, a
pig-faced woman in wax, and a portrait of Joe Coleman by notorious young-boy predator John Wayne Gacy, among other trophies.
The visit also offered Giger the rare opportunity to view Colemans most
recent work-in-progress, a self portrait of Coleman and his photographer
girlfriend Whitney Ward, through the same magnifying eyeglasses that
Coleman uses in the creation of his work, and to appreciate the painting in all its manic detail.
Next, it was on to visit with Voltaire and Paul Komoda to view their
animation models and to discuss possible future collaborations. A renowned
model-maker, Paul Komoda created the collectible figurines for the last
Batman film, the recent figurines for the rock band KISS, and is now working on
models for next years Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace.
The next day, Giger visited his U.S. foundry, Polich Art Works in Rock
Tavern, NY, to pick up the first cast of a new sculpture, Birth Machine
Baby (9MM Giger, 1998, Limited Edition of 23, bronze, 21 x 8-3/4 diameter, 60 lbs.), which he carried back to Zurich and now guards the entrance to the
Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland. Giger also took this opportunity to
discuss with the foundry his plans for constructing the large-scale
sculpture of the whole Birth Machine painting for the museum.
A known reluctant traveler, Giger was lured to New York by Airbrush
Action publisher Cliff Steiglitz to receive the magazines Vargas Award, to be
presented to him by his good friend Debbie Harry, at a dinner ceremony at
the Meadowlands Hilton in New Jersey. Giger and Ms. Harry first worked together in the early 80s on the memorable album cover KooKoo, which earned them both the honor of being listed in Rolling Stone magazines 100 Best Album Covers Of All Time. Giger made a poignant acceptance speech and humbly received his prize.
Giger and his guests were comped to the $75-a-head dinner, but as it
turned out, theres no such thing as a free lunch, even for a Guest of Honor. On
the return leg of his trip, Giger was left to upgrade his flight from coach to
business class at his own expense after having been stranded in Londons
Heathrow Airport by the magazine, instead of being booked on a direct
flight to Zurich as promised. To add insult to award, the Guest of Honor was
also stuck with the bill for his hotel stay in New York. The October 98 issue
of Airbrush Action features an ad for a videotape of the award ceremony,
available for $14.95. Giger can only hope that this is an effort to raise
the more than $2,000 it has personally cost him to accept the Vargas. Stay
tuned for further developments on this story.
A much more rewarding experience was a very private party held in Gigers
honor, on Manhattans East Side, attended by Gigers inner circle of
friends comprised of writers, fellow artists, photographers, and collectors.
A shy and private man, Giger was truly at ease at this informal and
New York can expect a return visit from Giger before the year is out with
much more public fanfare when the newly reopened Limelight nightclub in
Manhattan inaugurates its VIP Room as the HR Giger Room.
To know Giger is to understand that he is a New Yorker who just hasnt
moved here yet. As early as age 18, Giger set his sights on this center of the
universe in a painting entitled Dream of New York (1958). In 1981, in a
later valentine to the city of his dreams, Giger produced a series of paintings
that were published in his book, HR Giger N.Y. City. This series of works
incorporated machine templates procured by his friend Cornelius De Fries,
which Giger used as stencils to create the underlying structure of his
personal vision of the city, a habitat of monolithic mazes of heavy
machinery interlaced with oversized metallic cockroaches and deep-burrowing subway cars.
It is only fitting that New York now returns the compliment with a space
that Giger will always be able to call home, and his fans will be able to visit
for a deeper immersion in Gigers universe. Located at the Limelight nightclub at 6th Avenue and 20th Street in Manhattan, this VIP room in the upper reaches
of the deconsecrated church offers a total Giger environment.
Gigers relationship with the Limelight began in 1984 with an exhibition
of paintings, The Dune Youll Never See. Later, in 1993, Giger was a guest
at a private dinner held at the club in the honor
of his friend Timothy Leary. He returned a few nights later for a live
concert by heavy metal group Carcass coinciding with the release of their album, Life Support, which featured Gigers sculpture of the same name on its
cover. The place held a fascination for Giger with its Gothic architecture of
an old church, and catacomb-like rooms and maze of hallways. When approached, he was very receptive to the idea of a Giger Room in such a unique environment.
His design for the space is not only a gallery experience, but also offers
intimacy and dark comfort for visiting creatures of the night.
A much larger collection of Gigers works resides proudly in his very own
HRGiger Museum, located in Castle St. Germain in Gruyeres, Switzerland, which opened, for the most part on June 20, 1998. Giger believed that when he
acquired the Chateau St. Germain the building would be empty. Instead he
found an unwanted addition to his collection in the person of a tenant who has
thus far refused to leave. This snag was never far from Gigers mind even during his New York visit. Throughout the week, Giger obsessively drew caricatures of the tenant that he was so unexpectedly saddled with. His hilarious drawings depict a zaftig woman occupying the museum; in one comic sketch she threatens to flatten the chateau with her generous derriere. She will be on view until next September, at which time her lease runs out, and the museum will gain a new wing. Currently on display at the museum are many of Gigers artworks from the 60s and 70slarge canvases breathing biomechanical life into this 17th-century castle. The museum also houses his film design work for Alien 1 and 3, Poltergeis 2 and Species, the film which rekindled Gigers interest in model trains. The carnivorous train barely glimpsed in Species is now on permanent display at the museum. A work in progress, the HR Giger Museum, upon completion, will include a
second Giger Bar and by the end of the millennium will feature the Castle
Ride. Visitors to the museum will be seated inside a two-seat train wagon
which will traverse the museum on monorail tracks. As the train moves
through the exhibition spaces, paintings will be fastened to display panels to the right or left of the car. These panels will be pushed aside by the wagon as the visitors continue their journey. As soon as the car changes direction, a new painting can be seen by the headlights of the wagon. The ride continues back to the tower entrance and then follows a spiral
rail which routes along the wall and through a gate to the next floor, which is
absolutely dark, except for a short section where the visitors are exposed to
daylight as they cross the veranda.
After returning to the tower by means of the lift, the wagon descends to ground level. The Giger Museum also houses the International Center for Fantastic Art,
featuring Gigers own collection of paintings, sculptures, and photo-graphs
including works by Gunter Brus, Ernst Fuchs, Dado, Andre Lassen, Salvador
Dali, Arnulf Rainer, and Americans Joe Coleman and S. Clay Wilson.
To commemorate the opening of the HR Giger Museum, six newly printed
posters of Gigers artworks have been published by Swiss poster company Wizard & Genius. W & G was the first company to publish Gigers work, ever, and make his work available to a world-wide audience over 30 years ago, with Birth Machine, Playmate and Genius. The six new posters, The HR Giger Museum Collection, reflect Gigers personal choices and are each imprinted with the museums logo. The Magus, Gigers Necronomicon, Biomechanoid 75, and Birth Machine each measure 24 x 36, and The Trumpets of Jericho and The Way of the Magician each measure 23-1/2 x 31-1/2. The six posters may be seen at www.HRGiger.com. Ask your local poster shop to contact Idealdecor USA, Inc., 3180 Expressway Drive South, Central Islip, NY 11722. Telephone:
516.234.7777; Fax: 516.234.7798.
www.HRGiger.com, at 240 pages, is the largest and most comprehensive
published collection of HR Gigers works, the essential book for the HR Giger
collector, and an excellent primer for the new fan. Covering Gigers ascent from birth to his modern mastery of Surrealist technique, prime examples of Gigers
additions to the world of Fantastic Art are presented with hundreds of
full-color reproductions, many previously unseen. Featuring a selection of
photographs from his family album, www.HRGiger.com shows the evolution of
the man behind the legend. From his earliest drawings and paintings, including
his entire first portfolio, A Feast For The Psychiatrist, and early
experiments in oil, to his more recent works, www.HRGiger.com is an indispensable and detailed documentation of the artists life and career. The complete painting series for the long out-of-print book, HR Giger N.Y. City, is included as dividers between chapters showcasing his pre-airbrush work, the mystery shrouding the Giger Bar in Tokyo, his accomplishments as a furniture
designer, selections from his own vast private art collection, his visionary proposal for the Swiss Transit Tunnel, detailed plans for monumental projects in
progress such as the HR Giger Museum, and the Zodiac Fountain.
Gigers deliberate choice of the unique title for this book is to further
publicize his own official website, www.HRGiger.com, the home of the HR
Giger Museum Membership Club, as well as the best resource for keeping up to date on the artists latest projects, publications, limited-edition artworks, and
the unfolding drama of the Alien Insurrection saga. There are many other Giger
websites out there, but the only direct access is through www.HRGiger.com.
Just so you dont get lost, thats Giger with an HR, as in His Royal