From the late 1960s to mid- 1970s, David Hammons captivated the art world with his body prints, using his naked body as a printing plate in meditations on African-American existence, and later works including a snowball-selling performance in the East Village and sculptures made of hair collected from Harlem barbers — all the while sharply defying establishment categories and rules of commerce. An unconventional chronicle of Hammons’s life and work (now 79, he believes “the less they know about me the better”), THE MELT GOES ON FOREVER captures his playful, no-bullshit spirit and conceptual integrity, using archival footage and rare interviews, dynamic animation and sound art, and candid accounts by eminent artists curators and critics (Betye Saar, Suzanne Jackson, Henry Taylor, Lorna Simpson, among others). Hammons’s profound critiques of racial and social inequality illuminate and implicate simultaneously. THE MELT GOES ON FOREVER chronicles Hammons’ category-defying practice – rooted in a deep critique of American society and the elite art world – is in the words of one art critic “an invitation to confront the fissures between races” as the artist seeks to go beyond the dominant culture and his own to a new one for the 21st century. Co-directors Judd Tully (American Greed: The Art of the Steal, Driven to Abstraction) and Harold Crooks (The Price We Pay, The Corporation) stop by to talk about David Hammons has constantly defied the establishment and remains to this day a subversive voice, evocative, defiant, nuanced and relevant.
About the filmmaker – Harold Crooks is the director/writer of The Price We Pay, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and had its European premier at CPH:DOX. Named “Best Canadian Documentary” of 2014 by the Vancouver Film Critics Circle, it was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. He co-directed Surviving Progress with Mathieu Roy which premiered at 2011 TIFF, CPH:DOX and IDFA. His film writing credits include The Gig Is Up, a Hot Docs, CPH:DOX and IDFA selection in 2021; and the Sundance and TIFF audience winner The Corporation (2003), the narration for which he co-wrote with director Mark Achbar. Crooks is a recipient of a Prix Gémeaux and a Genie Award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television Genie Award, a Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo, a Leo Award for Best Screenwriter [Documentary] of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation of B.C., a National Documentary Film Award (Best Writing) at Hot Docs 1996, and a Writers Guild of Canada Top Ten Awards finalist.
About the filmmaker – Judd Tully was born in Chicago and educated at American University, Washington, DC. His career in journalism began as a cub reporter with the ’70s underground paper The Berkeley Barb where he covered the politically charged trials of the Soledad Brothers, George Jackson and Angela Davis in San Francisco and Marin County. For over two decades, he was Editor-at-Large of Art & Auction magazine. His journalism and art criticism has appeared in Flash Art, ARTnews, the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Art Newspaper, as well as his blog juddtully.net. Judd has been frequently interviewed on BBC Radio, CNN, MSNBC, as well as made cameo appearances in a number of documentary films that chronicle the rise and fall of the art market and scandals associated with it including the CNBC’s American Greed: The Art of the Steal and Driven to Abstraction, the expose of the $80 million art forgery at the once-venerated Knoedler Gallery.
“Blends, seamlessly, the heart and meaning, the art and politics, the
understanding of our humanity — the vision unique to David Hammons. We
watch this towering genius as he reconstructs our refuse in an empathetic
identification usually available only to children and their inescapable honesty.”
– Walter Mosley, novelist and screenwriter
“The art world’s Thomas Pynchon… The Melt Goes On Forever tracks the revered US artist’s career, without his direct participation, to illuminating effect… Eclectic and evocative… Filled with glimpses of a witty, inventive imagination.”
– David D’Arcy, The Art Newspaper
“Rebel genius, David Hammons shows us in this informative doc how his art making has gone way beyond Duchamp with his unique Black American creative perspective.” – Fab Five Freddy (Fred Brathwaite)
“David Hammons has found the genuinely political, the genuinely beautiful and the outrageously magical in art — and has been passing it on to us these 50 years.” – The New York Times