The Anita Pallenberg Story / Index Site
Installment # 5, June 2000, New York
The perils of benefactors the blessings of parasites
Blindness and Sight.
Now, just over a year since we
shot the first scenes of the video - of Cosima von Bonin as Anita, alone in
her New York hotel room - The Anita Pallenberg Story exists as a final
entity of 77 minutes on a DVD disc.
It made its first public debut,
in a one-month run at the Postmasters Gallery, New York from February 25-March
25,2000. where we also exhibited a series of production stills taken by members
of the cast and crew, including myself, Rainer Ganahl (who plays the Vogue
photographer); Chuck Nanney (who plays Kenneth Anger); Lucas Michael (who
plays François de Menil); and Kenneth Okiishi (who worked on Sound).
The Anita Pallenberg Story is now on view though June 2000, in a 2-person exhibition with Klaus vom Bruch, at Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, Vienna titled It's a Man's World.
As a final installment to this
web project, this text will consider the financial aspects of the video's
Some notes on the material and
economic basis of this production
Money is of course an awful topic. A terrible concept and and even more awful reality. Everybody knows this.
It is perhaps also widely acknowledged, but still worth mentioning, that The United States of America is not currently, nor has it ever been, a society or a government that believes in or supports art. While other wealthy societies and peoples have been and are known to economically and otherwise appreciate and support the development of the arts, the one I live in is not one of them.
The citizenship of the USA believes in the appropriation of their earnings, in the form of taxes, to support what they consider valuable: most notably, The Military. Americans love guns and killing people. They are really quite passionate about this.
In addition to War, Americans love other forms of violent entertainment: most notably Hollywood Movies.
Americans neither understand nor
appreciate art: it is French to them. Of course, in a society such as the
United States where no one can read a book, where the education level is so
low that most people cannot speak proper English, where people in the supermarket
do not even know the names of the fruits and vegetables they are selling (they
know Coca Cola!), what can you expect? Ours is a wealthy barbarian society.
Few organized societies, if any, have ever truly supported or understood art.
Art, after all, is really just
Those of us involved in any form of cultural production in the USA including dance, music, literature, poetry and all other mediums of artistic expression - are necessarily dependent on Private Patronage, on the noblesse oblige of wealthy Americans.
And - we receive funding from the European Nations. (This text you are reading is thanks to the benefactions of the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, thank you.)
As an example of how, in reality, this Private Patronage system works - and doesn't - I would like to enumerate here the particulars of the material support Leslie Singer and I received in the production of The Anita Pallenberg Story, in order of financial amount:
1. Credit Cards
Varying interest rates, from 2.9%
to 19.5% interest rates, from various banking institutions in the United States.
Our primary funding came from the banking institutions that sent us credit cards, some at very high interest rates - especially mine.
Each time I received a new credit
card I telephoned Leslie Singer to tell her I had received another "United
States Artist Grant". You have to apply for these credit cards, after all.
Although the application form is much easier than the paperwork required to
get, say, a Guggenheim Fellowship!
Total Cash Lended on Credit Cards for the film: US $50,000.
The expenditures accounted for included airline travel for cast and crew; equipment rentals; wardrobe and make-up; props; catering; food and housing for cast members; still film stock; film processing; Digital Video Stock; research materials including books, videos and CDs; hotel and living costs for San Antonio editing time; etc.
Our Primary Patron, then, was plastic - the banks were our most supportive patrons of the arts. We still owe them the money - and their money is very expensive. But without their support their would be no Anita Pallenberg Story.
2. Promises unkept
This category, the next largest
monetary group, refers to the wealthy individuals who verbally promised financial
support and then either pretended they said nothing, lost their money (so
they say?), or gave us sums far less than their verbal commitment.
This category may indeed strike you as peculiar. In monetary figures it is approximately US$ 10,000 - $15,000, depending on which accounting procedure you apply. This is money that was NOT received, but is nonetheless a crucial aspect in the discussion of Private Patronage generally, and this project in particular.
It goes like this: In New York, there are people who have access to the art scene because they have money. This is to say that, if they did not have money, and if they did not express interest in sharing their money with artists who need money, they would not be on the scene. Other people, for instance, are on the scene because they make art, talk about art, exhibit or curate art, sell art, have sex with artists, write about art, study art, or otherwise have a direct engagement with the producers of art.
But these other people - they call themselves Collectors, and some are - are on the scene only because they have money. This is, of course, a diverse group, and includes people who are seriously involved in supporting art; as well as those who are interested in art as a economic investment game; those who play with art as a kind of recreational or social activity because it gives them somewhere to go and something to do; and those who enjoy and cultivate a power trip over artists and gallerists who need money to survive. Perhaps it is fair to say that the majority of Collectors evidence all of the above tendencies.
Since Private Patronage is structured like a Court system - I have never been a member of a Royal Court, but have read about it in novels - it follows the fickle rhythms of Court Life. One day Louis XIV may feel like fucking you - and another day no. The King, as you know, is entitled, by virtue of the crown, to do what he wants when he wants to. If you are lucky to have an honest King, he will keep his promises. But if he is weak, dishonorable, or both, poor you - you have no rights or means to hold him to any of his promises.
Likewise, it is not socially or legally possible to send bills or legal notices to people who have told you they would very much like to give you money for the production of your art work and then don't.
Although, it should be noted, that the largest dependents of Private Patronage - institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Opera - insist that promises of monetary gifts be given in writing. Someday I will learn how to do this!
In the meantime, with Pallenberg, the fickleness, lack of seriousness, and general unreliability of some of our so-called Patrons accounted for over $10,000 in monies NOT contributed.
And I am still expected to be polite to these people, by the way.
3. Tax Deductions: 501 (c)
If you are cynical, you may indeed wonder WHY any of the above mentioned people would DONATE money to me or any one else for anything anyway.
Indeed, the most common motivation - excepting those who are truly angels, and there are some divine Patrons, usually named "Anonymous" - is the TAX DEDUCTION.
In the United States, since the 1970s, it is possible to establish a non-profit entity, for the purposes of education and the like, that is not only exempt from paying federal taxes but is likewise enabled to grant tax deductions to those people who make donations to said organization.
All of the arts organizations, including the museums and the ballet companies and the opera houses, are classified thus. So are the universities. This means that when a rich man makes a $50,000 donation to Harvard University in order to get his otherwise-unacceptable son admitted to the college, he is also able to take his bribe as a deduction from the yearly taxes he would otherwise owe to the Federal Government of the United States.
If you have heard that the rich pay no taxes in the United States, this is one basis of that true axiom.
It is also possible to avoid paying taxes in the United States, even if one is of independent means, if one incorporates a failing business that never turns a profit - horse breeding and other leisure class activities, including art galleries, are sometimes maintained for this purpose.
It is not possible for an individual artist to BE a tax deduction. But it is possible for individuals to have a non-profit fiscal sponsor, an 'umbrella' we say. In this circumstance, donors are able to contribute money to a non-profit, 501 (c) 3 institution, take a tax deduction on the gift - and the gift is delivered to the individual recipient, the 'artist'. The 'umbrella' institutions charge a fee for this - they keep from 5% to 10% of the funds you raise.
For The Anita Pallenberg Story, our umbrella was Women Make Movies, a non-profit distributor of films made (mostly) by women. In addition to distributing independent films, Women Make Movies also acts as Fiscal Sponsor to films that are in development and production.
In this circumstance we were able to raise $10,000. $5,000 from an arts patron and another $5,000 from a friend of mine who is not involved in the arts but wanted to help.
These cash-contributions (as opposed to the credit-card funds discussed above) were utilized for cash-only transactions, including video and film transfer and duplication services; some equipment rentals; taxi and subway fares; shipping and communication costs; payment to crew members engaged in lighting, camera, make-up, and sound work; and research, prop, wardrobe and petty cash expenses where credit was not accepted tender.
4. In-Kind Donations: The Pure and the Impure
The monetary value of things is a subjective evaluation and, under capitalism, often motivated from the subjectivity of greed .
When goods and services are either given as gifts or traded it is not easy to assign worth - sometimes a gift is worth 'more' than its market value. That is: when you really need or want something, it is worth 'more' than whatever value might be assigned in the proverbial open market. Then, of course, there are the gifts that come with 'strings attached' - that is, gifts where an exchange of other services is either implied or stipulated. The gifts 'with strings attached' become then, a kind of exchange, rather than a gift.
The 'pure gift' is one of the highest forms of human action - and also one of the most rare and precious.
The following list of gifts given include the 'pure' alongside those 'with strings attached'; I haven't always distinguished between them because it is not easy for me to do so without enduring a large margin of error. Indeed, often what is at first given freely becomes implicated in expectation, just as goods seemingly offered in trade can in fact be masked versions of charity.
Since no money was exchanged in the procurement of the following assets, I have declined to estimate their individual values, though in commercial film budgets the value of these goods would total over US$50,000.
1. Locations: Backstage and onstage at The Great Hall at Cooper Union; various residential apartments in Manhattan. Given as a gifts: from Cooper Union and from friends.
2. Various props and pieces of equipment, including cameras, microphones, sound speakers, etc: borrowed and/or traded with friends also involved in art and video production.
3. Media 100 Editing System with on-line editor, over 350 hours.
Traded in exchange for One Copy of the DVD edition.
4. Housing for one-month of editing in San Antonio, Texas, as unofficial guests of Art Pace, San Antonio (which allowed up to edit the rough cut).
5. Airline tickets. Some provided through frequent-flyer miles.
6. Our cast! - All actors worked gratis, and we still thank them!
5. How it all feels
Money is the kind of illusion it's best not to take too seriously nor ignore completely.
Leslie and I now feel really rich, since we have completed production and therefore not giving up big sums of money and big blocks of time each month to make The Anita Pallenberg Story happen.
We're taking a break for a few months before we start working on another one. And we're looking forward to The Anita Pallenberg Story opening in Los Angeles in the coming months - Hollywood is, after all, the capital of the United States of America.