January 27, 2023

“I’m slow at making movies and I haven’t actually made that many,” says Harmony Korine, the American filmmaker responsible for Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy, mister lonely, Spring breakers, Garbage collectors, The beach bumand of course the screenplay for Larry Clark’s Children – a film full of controversy thanks to its hedonistic nonchalance and irreverence. Self-deprecation and vague mystique seem to be Korine’s standard when it comes to interviews. In 1995, just 19 years old, he joined the Late Show with David Letterman‘s sofa as part of a Children media mess. “I think it’s controversial,” he said of the film with an awkward smile. “I just wanted to make a sequel to Caddyshack,” he adds.

Korine doesn’t take herself, or anything else, too seriously. What surrounds him is what surrounds us, but he looks deeper. Life is his mood board, and the characters he portrays reflect what he sees in the real world, describing everyday life as a “great sci-fi fishbowl experiment.” By investigating the so-called ‘fishbowl’, Korine mixes the romanticization of his observations with his representation of reality in what he compares to ‘chemical experiments’. “The idea that you can put different elements in a bottle and shake them and document an explosion,” he says. “That’s interesting to me.”

Korine’s work catalog has an unparalleled ability to reflect the contemporary zeitgeist. Similarly, he can see Julia Fox, who starred in a Supreme campaign he photographed, as someone “you can imagine would have worked at the time. [in the ‘90s].” While his work often proved a bit too taboo for the mainstream film industry, it provided inspiration for Gucci campaigns, art direction, Supreme T-shirts and movies. “That always drives me crazy, I must say. A lot of the early stuff was rejected at the time, at least by certain mainstream critics. It felt like a provocation to many people. It was easy to dismiss.” But while his silver screen inventory may not be as extensive as his peers, few can match his enviable amount of influence on culture: Korine wrote the rule book on what it means to capture the mood of an era.

Speaking to Hypebeast from his home in Miami – whose back alleys and beaches are a constant inspiration – Korine touched on things in life that have made him the person and artist he is today. “I don’t know if I have an obsession,” he says. “I think there are certain themes that are always repeating. The things I enjoy now… laughter is pretty good. Images of the ocean. guns. Laughter. marginalized characters. Things that look good.” It may not be an obsession in Korine’s eyes, but it seems he has a tendency to return to finding joy in life’s monotonous cycle while somehow changing society’s gritty underbelly in cult films, campaigns and even countless exhibitions. value of paintings.

“There is an ultimate truth in films and art, but something deeper hovers above it. Something closer to strange poetry.

Conversations with Korine drift from specific discussions about his iconic films to existential scenarios about life and what it all really means. But where does his inspiration begin? “It starts with an image. I could see a woman walking down the street with curlers in her hair and boxing gloves and no shoes on, and it just sparked something,” he explains. “I wonder where she lives, how she lives, how she got there? I come up with backstories; I have a deep inner dialogue with myself about conjuring up stories based on images.” As he spends his days pondering the minutiae of existence as his source of inspiration, Korine shapes his storylines from everyday life,”[I’m] looking at people and things that are usually ignored. Pathos can be found in certain hidden places and in the eyes of people.”

While his references are very real, the end result is far from documentary. “There is an ultimate truth in films and art, but something deeper hovers above it. Something closer to strange poetry. With this in mind and at the core of his output, Korine’s films are shocking reflections of youth culture, turning the lives of young people into R-rated video games, orchestrated by nihilistic tendencies and fueled by a desire to fulfill their boredom. While humiliating and eerily uncomfortable, they are also compelling stories about Central American society.

These days, Korine finds it hard to watch new movies: “The culture is really up for grabs — there’s no longer any space between actors, their lives, and the characters they play,” he says. Thanks to the internet, we know every detail of every celebrity’s life, something he’s quick to call “sell-out culture.” Being real is important to Korine: “In some ways everything is a representation and people are branded. They’re hardly human.”

This is not to say that he does not find today’s people inspiring. Korine just thinks that creative practices like art and music “went through some sort of algorithm.” The effect of this is a world that is no longer fair or raw – two factors that have long been fundamental to his work and vision. “We live in science fiction,” he says. “I’m not saying it’s less interesting now, it’s just a completely different reality. People live on screen unlike people who have lived life and were not self conscious… People are being shamed into a uniform look and feel.

“Everything is so swirling that it’s hard to really discover what the core of the soul is in all of this.”

In stark contrast to pop culture’s current addiction to the algorithm, Korine’s ability to choose the right actor for the role is by chance and refreshingly spontaneous. “My relationship with actors is strange, a lot of it is just kind of atmosphere,” he explains. Korine has always managed to build a cast that perfectly evokes the spirit of the film in question, something that is a result of working with ‘non-actors’, as he puts it, or by the reputation of undermine the actors. it would be interesting to see this person play this type of character.

“A lot of characters to be the zeitgeist – many of them came to life,” he says of his own films. In Spring breakers (2012), he took budding starlets and their squeaky clean Disney reputations and turned them into college party girls with criminal records – reminiscent of the fall from grace of high-profile celebrities of the 2000s. “I listened to pop music and electronic music and thought about the culture , the kids at the time who made it, the internet and the mixing of high and low culture and the idea of ​​pop poetry,” explains Korine. “It felt like a really interesting casting because they were of the culture, but also separate, elevated in a way. I thought it would be interesting to see them get dingy.”

Korine thinks we have reached a cultural pinnacle today – he, like many of us, cannot name the time we are currently in. “I can’t even say what the ‘now’ is. It’s a little bit of this time, a little bit of that. Same for streetwear: where can you go from here?” he asks. And he’s right, many – including us – have wondered what’s next for the industries around which our lives revolve. “People need to identify with a brand and have a personal relationship with it.”

Mainstream media continues to evolve and give everyone their 30 seconds of fame on TikTok – “The way people consume things is different than [the ‘90s]the way people watch a movie, listen to music and dance on TikTok [simulatenously]” notes Korine, buoyed by the fact that collaborations between TikTok and Cannes International Film Festival have generated 8.1 billion hits.

So instead he’s moving toward traditions through advertising: “You’re showing characters, locations, and clothes. What I like about advertising is that it’s fast and it’s a language. It is released in a popular format. It’s a different kind of joy than making a movie, but it’s still a joy. When you see an image that is beautiful, it is exciting.” Working on a new project – not really a movie, but something – Korine “feels that there is a new art form. It is a synthesis of music, animation, live-action and gaming. We’ll see where it takes us. But I do not know.”

When authenticity is your driving force, it becomes difficult to distinguish the things we are given from the people we really are inside. Or so Korine feels: “everything is so swirling that it is difficult to really discover what the core of the soul is in all this.”

So how do you create work based on the nuances of everyday life, when everyday life is no longer inspiring to you? For Korine, it is necessary to inspire others to help his own creativity. “There’s still room for people to make great things. We’re living closer to science fiction than ever before,” he adds. “I want to move people, I wanted to ruin things. I’ve always felt that if it wasn’t fun for me to make, it wouldn’t be fun to watch.”

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