RESEARCH                                          


for full collection of visual research, please refer to this pinterest page


When we first began talking, Isis, Inigo, and I were mutally interested in looking at pop-art (especially Andy Warhol) after Pete had breifed us on the graphic novel lens of the project.  On another hand, we were also interested Second-Wave feminism in the 1960s.

This merge of interests lead us to the story of Valerie Solanas (author of SCUM Manifesto) who shot Andy Warhol in 1968. However, we wanted to tell HER story from HER perspective and to really explore why she was driven to that point of anger. 

Early on in conversation, we established that Solonas’ anger is inevitable because she is a woman in the art world/creative industry which is plagued by sexism (re: SCUM Manifesto). This gave us the idea to explore sexism and the male gaze by taking Solanas on a journey through art history that drives her to the point of no return when she shoots Andy Warhol, the scapegoat for her anger at the art world. 





We first brainstormed ideas for the male gaze in art history: 

-Renaissance:
-birth of venus, Ingress portraits, girl with the pearl earring. 

- Feminist Art: 
-Cindy Sherman, Frida Kahlo, Guerrilla Girls

-Women & Political Art/Propoganda/Media
-sexist 50s adverts, suffragette movement, women in war time, second-wave feminist movement. 
 
We then brainstormed art movements we were stylistically interested in: 

-Pop Art: 
-Andy Warhol, Roy Litchenstein

-German Expressionism: 
-The Scream, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

-Surrealism: 
       -Salvador Dali, MC Escher


We split off and did our own research on specifc parts of the above lists. I looked into pop art, frida kahlo, german expressionism, and surrealism. 


Some notable artworks from the above collage: 
-Birth of Venus, tempera on canvas by Sandro Botticelli, c. 1485; Uffizi Gallery, Florence.  -Drowning Girl, oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas by Roy Litchenstein, 1963;  MoMa, NYC. 
-Galatea of the Spheres, oil on canvas by Salvador Dali, 1952; Dali Theatre and Museum, Spain. -Untilted Film Still #2, photograph by Cindy Sherman, 1977; MoMa, NYC.  -Hand with Reflecting Sphere, lithograph by MC Escher, 1935; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.  -Self-Portait with Cropped Hair, oil on canvas by Frida Kahlo, 1940; MoMa, NYC. 

Some notable artworks from the above collage:
-Drowning Girl, oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas by Roy Litchenstein, 1963;  MoMa, NYC.
-The Scream (after Munch), silkscreen print by Andy Warhol, 1984; Sothesbys. -Mick Jagger 143, screenpring by Andy Warhol, 1975; Guy Hepner Art Gallery. 

After finding artworks I was interested in, I began by playing around with creating compositions out of them that could fit into the art history montage in our narrative: 



For example, I was thinking how we could transition from time periods, seen in the left image combining Cindy Sherman’s photograph with The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Secondly, I was thinking how to create a manic state that Solanas’ experiences as a result of this journey, so I collaged Valerie’s face onto Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair all while a German Expressionism inspired hallway is spinning around her. Lastly, I wanted to embody a feeling of entrapment but also self-observation which was inspired by M C Escher’s Hand with Reflecting Sphere

From this experimentation, I made a sample of a storyboard progression for the montage. I was trying to imagine how Valerie Solanas as a character could be placed and/or become trapped in these artworks. This is a rough idea for the “surrealism” section of the montage.  
start with Cindy Sherman photograph composition, Valerie is observing herself in the mirror, her reflection becomes distorted as it morphs into Galatea of the Spheres and the composition melts around her, she falls into a chair and replicates Kahlo's Self-portrait with Cropped Hair, once her hair is cut she holds up M C Eschere's sphere and observes herself trapped, as she tries to escape the sphere she becomes trapped in a maze of M C Escher stairs surrounded by distant figures approaching her. Start with Cindy Sherman photograph composition, Valerie is observing herself in the mirror, her reflection becomes distorted as it morphs into Galatea of the Spheres and the composition melts around her, she falls into a chair and replicates Kahlo's Self-portrait with Cropped Hair, once her hair is cut she holds up M C Eschere's sphere and observes herself trapped, as she tries to escape the sphere she becomes trapped in a maze of M C Escher stairs surrounded by distant figures approaching her.

We came back together to combine the research for our respective sections. We came up with a timeline for the montage. At this stage, we thought that the montage exists between Solanas holding up the gun and Andy being shot. 

Renaissance sequence  ︎︎︎ Political: Propoganda & Feminism sequence ︎︎︎ Surrealism/Contemporary Art sequence ︎︎︎
ending shot of Andy Warhol’s The Scream print with Andy’s face as The Scream 

(filter in sexist propoganda throughout as flashes & transitions between sections) 

We also made the decision for the style of the montage to be digital collages & animations of the artworks we have chosen since it would be way too difficult to try and redraw them ourselves. We also wanted the “montage world” to be very flat and 2D in order to make it seem more claustrophobic for Valerie and more surreal atmospherically. This was inspired by collage art such as Eugenia Loli’s: 

Next stage in our research was to establish the “real world” which is where Valerie is going to Andy’s studio and preparing to shoot him. We wanted to capture the stylized atmosphere of New York Street at night, so we referenced Taxi Driver (1976). I looked into the color scheme and composition of the filmstills. I also experimented with painting the composition to capture the blend of colors and haze.


Isis & Inigo similarly referenced films for other sections of the “real world” including: The Shining for the corridors in Andy’s apartment building, Terminator 2 for the lift, and American History X for the shooting.

We compiled these references and drafted an initial storyboard. 

NEXT: PROCESS ︎︎︎

© Jida Akil 2022