Back in the early 1990s Outsideleft's resident hipster polymath Joe Ambrose was co-creator on an ambitious and innovative exhibition and celebration of the works of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs and especially of their intersections and influence on and by the original Interzone of Tangier. The Here to Go Show (so named after one of Gysin's maxim that the only purpose of human life on earth is to get ready to leave it - "we are here to go") even brought the legendary Master Musicians of Joujouka to Dublin to take part in the festivities.
Ambrose and Frank Rynne directed a documentary which captured the event and featured exclusive contributions from William Burroughs, Hamri The Painter of Morocco, Ira Cohen, Hakim Bey, Terry Wilson amongst others.
It was rough and ready. What used to be called garage film-making, razor cut film-making. Unfiltered and real. And like so many genuinely underground documents the film had disappeared from view.
But now remastered for the digital age and on official DVD for the first time Screen Edge have re-released it. We fired a few questions at Ambrose to see what he thought of the film after a decade and a half..
JA: "It looks a lot better now that it has for a long time. When it originally came out on video with Visionary it got shown at a lot of public events, at the ICA, unbeknownst to us at guerilla film festivals in Europe, I'd be showing it to interested parties at home. In the end I just got sick of looking at it. When any visitor wanted to see it I'd put it on and head off into the kitchen to prepare some food or something. VHS was a shit medium. I hated VHS. This DVD, like all DVDs, has better colour and sound than the original release. When the new copies arrived from Screen Edge I played it right through about five times, watched it in full for the first time in maybe five or six years. There are things I'd have done differently, of course, bits featuring myself that I might want to edit out now. But it's an artifact from another time and place so.so be it.
OL: How much did Destroy cost to make?
JA: "Virtually nothing. It was mainly filmed by domestic camcorders by Daragh McCarthy and Mark Siung, both of whom did film at art school. This background made it possible, later, for the film to be edited - they'd shot it correctly. I think we all just wanted a record of what was going on, and weren't thinking about making a film. Then later we realised that we had a lot of remarkable documentation, especially to do with Hamri the Painter of Morocco and The Master Musicians of Joujouka. When myself and Frank got back to London after the Show we were contacted by Stuart McClean, a musician and media expert who got us access to some top-of-the-range editing facilities.
Nowadays anybody with a laptop and a camera can make a movie; it was more of a Herculean task in 1993. We already knew Ian Gilchrist who worked at Visionary with John Bentham. Ian put us in touch with John, who'd done videos on Visionary by the likes of Warhol, The Gun Club, and Burroughs. John expressed an interest in releasing our putative film about the Show. We knew before the film was finished that it was going to be coming out as a sell-through video."
OL: What is your favourite moment in the film?
OL: Your performance of Hassan in the City features ragga star Shabba Ranks. I can't see Shabba as big Burroughs/Gysin fan?
OL: To what extent was Burroughs involved in the Show?
OL: How is the next book coming along?
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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