So we are just going to call music videos ‘performance art films’ now huh?
Last night, HBO broadcast the highly anticipated Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film by Jay Z. The film Directed by Mark Romanek (Note: Romanek directed Jay Z’s “99 Problems” video as well), is a 10-minute film was cut down from 30 hours of footage, including six hours of Hov’s back-to-back live performance of the track “Picasso Baby” in New York’s Pace Gallery. The track, which is one of the standouts from Jay Z’s recently released Magna Carta Holy Grail featured the rapper performing the lyrics of the track over the Timbaland-produced instrumental in front of art enthusiasts and spectators.
The film features appearances from the likes of Jemima Kirke, Judd Apatow, Pablo Picasso’s granddaughter Diana Widmaier Picasso, Michael K. Williams, Taraji P. Henson, George Condo, Hip Hop Legend Fab 5 Freddy, Wale, Sandra Gering, Alan Cumming and the “grandmother of performance art,” Marina Abramovic.
You can watch the video below.
Below is an excerpt from Mark Romanek’s interview with Huffington Post as he discusses the video:
“About three months ago, Jay invited me to his office to hear the album. I was really impressed. I thought it was his most mature album and I thought it was a real leap for him, and we both expressed a dissatisfaction with the way things are done and a desire to do something different. He name-checks a lot of artists, so it immediately put me to mind of the whole fine-art world, and since he’s a performer I started thinking about a performance-art piece involving Jay’s music. And every time we tried to think of something that was radically different from Marina [Abramovic]‘s piece, it never seemed as good. So we said, what if we do something very much like that? But it was important to me that we weren’t just ripping her off, that we had her blessing, so we reached out to her and she loved the idea and said she’d be happy to bless the event with her presence. The phrase “music video” got tossed around a little bit at the beginning, and both of us were like, “We don’t want to do a music video. That’s from another era. We need to do something that’s more genuine, more spontaneous and more alive.”
The idea of performance art came to mind. I was aware of Marina Abramovic’s Artist is Present, even though I was in London shooting ‘Never Let Me Go’ and didn’t get to go. And the idea that Jay-Z regularly performs to 60,000 people at a time, I thought, ‘What about performing at one person at a time?’ He absolutely loved it. He interrupted me and said, ‘Hold on! I’ve got chills. That idea is perfect.’ He thinks, like me, that the music video has had its era. I also wanted to make sure we had Marina’s blessing. So she attended the event and took part in the event. She couldn’t have been more happy or enthusiastic about us using her concept and pushing it forward.”