Saturday, August 3, 2013

Life + Times Presents: Jay Z - "Picasso Baby:" A Performance Art Film (Mark Romanek)


It almost seems wrong to [mis]label an artist as blatantly prolific and broad-spanning as Shawn "Jay Z" Carter as a mere rapper; Since he's arguably a powerful entrepreneur, businessman, record exec, sports agent, club owner, and 1/2 of a dynamic power-couple. After releasing his Samsung-backed Magna Carta... Holy Grail album on July 4th, he's once again teamed up with iconic "99 Problems" music video director Mark Romanek to create a 10-minute "Picasso Baby" performance art film. Recorded last month at Chelsea's own Pace Gallery, Romanek's team managed to capture 40+ hours worth of film over a 6-hour period with 8 meticulously-placed cameras. Loosely inspired by a similarly-minded Marina Abramović performance-art piece, The Artist Is Present, Jay Z & Mark Romanek packed the room full of creative types, eager super-fans, and journalists including: Judd Apatow, Alan Cummings, George Condo, Rosie Perez, Fab 5 Freddy, Taraji P. Henson, Diana Widmaier Picasso, Michael K. Williams, Wale, and Abramović herself.


It's basically a collection of various one-on-one encounters, while Jay Z rapidly performs "Picasso Baby" from a small pop-up stage/wooden bench installation time and time again. But the real beauty of the whole things is that each and every separate encounter has a varying degree of originality; upon "Picasso Baby"'s mid-song beat switch up (at roughly 4:05), the previously established one-on-one format is slowly broken down and troves of on-lookers are ushered into the central performance space all at once. "Picasso Baby:" A Performance Art Film aired on HBO late Friday night, following Jay Z's appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher and has since been uploaded on The Internet. According to a recent Power 106 interview, Jay Z & Justin Timberlake are currently filing a music video for Magna Carta... Holy Grail's Nirvana-quoting lead-off track, "Holy Grail." It's 1 of "6 pieces of art" that are supposedly in-the-works (Twitter), while it remains unclear whether Mark Romanek will be attached to these music videos in any facet or not.

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