Filmography and blurbs

still from 'Sabotaging Spring' pixelvision“It’s spring, it’s spring, and I feel I’m giving birth myself, to something monstrous, something ugly.” Gibbons enters the woods to begin his destructive campaign against spring, snapping the buds off trees while babbling maniacally. Sabotaging Spring is an impressionistic peek at Gibbons’s paranoid fancy; he explains the facts of life, evolution, and whistling to his dog Woody.
from 'Sabotaging Spring', 1991

still from 'Sabotaging Spring' pixelvision 

“It’s spring, it’s spring, and I feel I’m giving birth myself, to something monstrous, something ugly.” Gibbons enters the woods to begin his destructive campaign against spring, snapping the buds off trees while babbling maniacally. Sabotaging Spring is an impressionistic peek at Gibbons’s paranoid fancy; he explains the facts of life, evolution, and whistling to his dog Woody. 

“Apart from being about the most fun I ever had in a movie theater, Joe Gibbons films are my most sound argument for the currency of real experience. Blatantly made up as they go along, they permit an immediacy of expression to exist that actually reminds me I’m alive and that anything can happen.” 

--Hal Hartley 

"Having invented a sarcastic and wickedly funny version of himself as Joe Gibbons, Joe Gibbons plays a down cast 'every man' in a long, adventurous film career that is set in the self-help lab of faux doc confessional and docudrama." 

--Peggy Ahwesh 

"Joe Gibbons is the bon-vivant rebel of the avant-garde, cinematically “researching” life on the fringe. His super-8 films are chronicles of daily life, humorous acts of transgression in which Gibbons skirts both social and art world conventions...He successfully achieves his goal of erasing the boundaries between domestic reality and movie entertainment.”  

--David Schwartz, American Museum of the Moving Image 

“For Joe Gibbons, his super-8 camera is essential for his “research” -- the gathering and recording of observations of himself and others, with and without consent. In his hands, the camera is not a neutral device -- he is too aware of the relationship between camera and subject, and concurrently between the completed film and audience; rather it is a means of actively exploring the unknown, the forbidden. It seems to trigger both confessionals and confidences, and play with our desire to see and know; it is both analyst and analysand. Crossing and blurring the borders between fact and fiction, public and private moments, responsible and impulsive actions, Joe Gibbons’ research continues.” 

--Kathy Geritz, Pacific Film Archives 

“I guess in most drama there’s some kind of flaw that drives the drama and I think by exaggerating things, I mean, I play pretty messed up characters, but there are aspects that everybody to a greater or lesser degree exhibits, especially the psychopathic ones; people can identify with that. So many movies are made involving these characters. I started out making more abstract films or structural films and it wasn’t until I discovered using myself as material that I thought I had something. But I had to keep making more, I needed content. By finding flaws and working on those that was a goldmine.”  

–Joe Gibbons 

 

FILMS 

THE GENIUS 86 min. 1993 16mm color 

Desmond Denton (Joe Gibbons) has just perfected a technique for transferring personality attributes from one brain to another, a process that comes in handy when his love interest, art-terrorist Kitty Church (Karen Finley), fails to respond to his overtures.  

Featuring also Tony Conrad, Tony Oursler and Adolfas Mekas. 

“A ramshackle art-world farce whose charm lies in not taking itself too seriously. Finley is volatile, scary and funny; she nearly walks away with the film.”  

-- NY Times 

“A mad-scientist spoof gone Boho...Gibbons’ alternately languorous and manic performance steals the show.” - 

- Village Voice 

“Farcical, deliriously Downtown satire of the Soho mindset...Anchored by engaging performances from Gibbons and Finley.”  

-- NY Press “Editor’s Choice!” NY Post 

Whitney Biennial 1995,  

New Directors/New Films 1993, Rotterdam Fest 

LIVING IN THE WORLD 95 min. 1985 super-8 

An auto-documentary about a disenfranchised Everyman and his struggle to re-integrate himself into society. He fails and turns to crime.“Gibbons’ ongoing saga of his struggle to act normal (find a job, do the dishes, move to S.F.) is the funniest and most alienated of nouveau psychodramas.”  

--J Hoberman, Village Voice 

“Living in the World is right up there with “Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania” as an experience of life at its richest and most paradoxical”  

--Tony Conrad, Millenium Film Journal 

SPYING 1978 35 min. Super-8 

“One of the ten best films of the year. A silent exercise in applied voyeurism, Spying is a hilariously perverse ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ in which the filmmaker secretly observes his neighbors (and their pets) sunbathing, gardening, or gazing out of theirwindows.”. 

--J Hoberman, Village Voice 

GOING TO THE DOGS 1980 20 min. Super-8 

A documentary shot in SF circa 1979 about a trio of middle-class kids experimenting with heroin and cocaine. They start out innocently enough but they soon get in over their heads.  

“Brilliant” --Gavin Smith, editor, Film Comment 

WELTSCHMERTZ 15 min. 1979 super-8  

“Seldom has depression been played to such comic effect... The camera sits on a tripod considering Gibbons as he hunches over his kitchen table, slugging vodka, chain smoking, and toying aimlessly with a half-eaten potato. Morose and giggling by turns, the filmmaker launches into a broken account of present unhappiness, which is broken by extended cut-aways to dying plants, freeway traffic, and TV soap operas.” 

--J Hoberman, Village Voice 

CONFIDENTIAL 1979 20 min. Super-8 

“Gibbons is a superb performer with the recessive manner that cameras “love”. He sustains his film through the subtlety of his acting with its constant potential for violent eruption as well as through the power and incisiveness of his basic filmmaking conceit.” 

--Amy Taubin, Village Voice 

“Gibbons’ most powerful work...the most startling aspect is that he is clearly not talking to the audience -- the sequences are mainly midnight tête-à-têtes which the spectator is put in the remarkable and self-conscious position of over-hearing.” 

--J Hoberman, Village Voice 

DEADBEAT 1986 35 min. Super-8 

An earlier version of Fugitive in Paris. A beleagered scofflaw flees to Paris to become someone else. He meets a model named Coco (Corinne Mallet), and they drink champagne and make love. While he transgresses, she models, until she decides to join him. Eventually they go to Normandy to chill out, but something peculiar happens. No longer sustained by the criminal act, he become unmoored and loses his personality altogether, merging with Coco’s. Then, with the police on their trail, they are forced to split up. He ends up in a seedy hotel room in Mexico, dying of selflessness. Coco ends up in London with two personalities, but no happier.  

FUGITIVE IN PARIS 1987 65 min. Super-8 

A university professor learns from his golfing partner/hemotologist (Tony Oursler) that he has a fatal blood disease. He resolves to live out his remaining weeks doing everything he ever dreamed out. He goes to Paris and take up with a bohemian Parisienne named Coco. The only problem is that he can’t bring himself to break the law, although Coco is a natural at it. ,,,. Meanwhile his doctor friend has been looking for him - it seems there’s been a terrible mix-up. 

“The most unique thing about this film is Gibbons’ presence, or his conception of the protagonist, which can be described as Belmondo/ Raskolnikov. In a way, this is not an actor’s film -- maybe not even a filmmaker’s film -- it’s a star’s film... Perfect in what it sets out for itself to do.” 

--Jonas Mekas, Motion Picture 

VIDEOTAPES 

FINAL EXIT 6 min. 2000 Pixelvision 

In Final Exit an aged one is confronted with his options in blunt terms. Does he want to drag out his existence, increasingly infirm and a burdento his caretakers, or go quietly, before resentment overcomes sentiment? Does he wish to go on living with the quality of his life increasingly diminished, or euthanized? Would he prefer cremation or burial? This tape confronts the issues of mortality and advancing decrepitude facingeven the friskiest of us. 

Black Maria Juror’s Citation 2001 

MULTIPLE BARBIE 30 min 1998 Pixelvision 

In an attempt to re-integrate Barbie’s personality, fragmented from the trauma of parental sexual transgression and compounded by an abusive relationship with her boyfriend Ken, a therapist opens a Pandora’s Box of psychopathy. 

Whitney Biennial 2000, NY Video Fest 1998, Black Maria Juror’s Choice 2000 

BARBIE’S AUDITION 9 MINUTES 1995 PIXELVISION 

“Barbie’s Audition’ is a hilarious bit of throwaway sleaze: Gibbons tries to get the meat-puppet substitute to spend some time on his casting couch.” 

--Amy Taubin, Village Voice 

NY Video Fest 1995 Viper Festival, First prize Black Maria Juror’s Citation 

PRETTY BOY 3 minutes 1994 Pixelvision 

"I practically levitated when ‘Pretty Boy’ came on the screen...(The video) is a Punch and Joe show in which Gibbons holds a doll in front of his face, thrusts it right in front of the lens, and then, in a deadpan riff on projection, accuses it of being a “narcissistic son of a bitch” Whereupon the doll punches him out (who’s in control here?) and he retaliates by beating the doll’s bare bottom with a hairbrush. Pretty Boy proves that the concept is inseparable from the performance. Only this Keaton of the avant-garde could get away with such knowing puerility. 

--Amy Taubin, Village Voice 

NY Film Festival 1994, Black Maria Juror’s Citation 1995 

HIS MASTER’S VOICE 6 min. 1994 Pixelvision 

Son of Sam returns, this time in the form of Woody, a seemingly benign pooch who orders Joe to kill, and kill again. Joe implores Woody to come to his senses, have some compassion, but the dog will hear none of it. 

SABOTAGING SPRING 1990 10 minutes Pixelvision Overwhelmed by the force of Nature’s renewal, Joe enlists Woody in a futile atempt to stop Spring from happening.“Gibbons’ outstanding encounters with a mutt named Woody are sweet and soulful, the most winning animal rendezvous since Wegman met Man Ray.” 

--Amy Taubin, Village Voice 

Telluride Film Festival 

ELEGY 1990 10 min. Pixelvision 

"A hilarious way-out-there tour de force. The camera captures in extreme close-up a man walking through a cemetery on the first day of autumn, talking rapid fire to his dog Woody about life, death, and procreation. “Do you understand beauty at all?” the increasingly angst-ridden man shouts at his happy-go-lucky pet." 

--M. Blowen, Boston Globe 

LIVING IN THE WORLD 95 min. 1985 super-8 transfer 

An auto-documentary about a disenfranchised Everyman and his struggle to re-integrate himself into society. He fails and turns to crime.“Gibbons’ ongoing saga of his struggle to act normal (find a job, do the dishes, move to S.F.) is the funniest and most alienated of nouveau psychodramas.”  

--J Hoberman, Village Voice 

WELTSCHMERTZ 15 min. 1979 super-8 transfer“Seldom has depression been played to such comic effect... The camera sits on a tripod considering Gibbons as he hunches over his kitchen table, slugging vodka, chain  

smoking, and toying aimlessly with a half-eaten potato. Morose and giggling by turns, the filmmaker launches into a broken account of present unhappiness, which is broken by extended cut-aways to dying plants, freeway traffic, and TV soap operas.” 

--J Hoberman, Village Voice 

CONFIDENTIAL 1979 20 min. Super-8 transfer 

“Gibbons is a superb performer with the recessive manner that cameras “love”. He sustains his film through the subtlety of his acting with its constant potential for violent eruption as well as through the power and incisiveness of his basic filmmaking conceit.” 

--Amy Taubin, Village Voice 

“Gibbons’ most powerful work...the most startling aspect is that he is clearly not talking to the audience -- the sequences are mainly midnight tête-à-têtes which the spectator is put in the remarkable and self-conscious position of over-hearing.” 

--J Hoberman, Village Voice 

SPYING 1978 35 min. Super-8 transfer 

“One of the ten best films of the year. A silent exercise in applied voyeurism, Spying is a hilariously perverse ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ in which the filmmaker secretly observes his neighbors (and their pets) sunbathing, gardening, or gazing out of theirwindows.”. 

--J Hoberman, Village Voice 

ONOUROWN (with Tony Oursler) 1989 50 min. 8mm video 

“Ur-slackers Gibbons and Oursler play two psychotics who are forced by budgetary cutbacks to leave the hospital for, as it were, the free world. Keeping a video diary is their outpatient therapy. Perverse and prescient.” 

--Amy Taubin, Village Voice 

TOXIC DETOX (with Tony Oursler)1992 30 min. Hi-8 video 

Part 2 of ONOUROWN.  

Joe and Tony resolve to quit taking their extensive medication regimen, not foreseeing the unpleasant side effects of withdrawal. Features Saul Levine as a social worker who makes the mistake of drinking Joe’s last Coca-Cola, and Tony Conrad as their video psychiatrist paying a house call.. 

THE PHONY TRILOGY (directed by Emily Breer and Joe Gibbons) 

CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIOPATH 2002 

“Scary and hilarious...Mr. Gibbons has assembled bits and pieces of super-8 films to compose a chronicle of petty larceny, drug abuse and general irresponsibility, all of which he characterizes as research. Mr. Gibbons’s persona, if not his actual personality, is at once guileless and entirely untrustworthy, as if the distinction between lying and telling the truth had never occurred to him.”  

NY Times