Beyond The Duplex Planet
In 1979, David Greenberger turned talking to seniors into an art form. He's at it still...even as he himself approaches "seniority."
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Wed, April 3 2019 2:30 AM UTC +00:00.
I want to tell you about my friend, artist David Greenberger.
Some of you already know him as the creator of the ‘zine The Duplex Planet, a legendary, perhaps cult-y compendium of interviews, poems, graphics and record reviews that began in 1979 when David - fresh out of art school - took a job as the activities director at the Duplex Nursing Home in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
Through conversations with David, senior citizen residents at this facility offered up their insights on a regular basis. David then edited these thoughts into bite-sized glimpses of their interior world. To David's surprise, the publication became rather “viral” back in the day before the Intertubes made “viral” a thing.
Fans began to spring up all over the world and included people like comedian George Carlin, magicians Penn and Teller, actors Lili Taylor and Martin Mull, artist Ed Ruscha and cartoonist Lynda Barry. Soon collaborators like musicians REM's Michael Stipe, Louie Perez and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Dave Alvin, the men of Three Leg Torso and many others came on board to assist in David’s varied art projects around the elders he’d encountered. The Duplex Planet began to take new forms including books, comics, recordings and spoken word performances with live music.
Forty years since the genesis of this project, David is still creating work that gently celebrates the art of conversation and explores the world of growing old.
By the way, it's not lost on David that the age gap between him and his senior subjects is closing at a surprisingly fast clip. The world of the elderly has been his life's work -- and here he is on the threshold himself.
Our film Beyond The Duplex Planet is the story of David's personal and artistic journey. It’s also the story of how open dialogue enhances our understanding of the world and each other.
WHY THIS CAMPAIGN?
I've slowly been chipping away at this film over the last year, pulling together some of my money when I could to travel to interview David and document his work. My crew and I have had some successful trips to David's home in New York State, to Southern California to follow David on an arts residency, and to Chattanooga, Tennessee to document a recording session with him and the band Prime Lens.
Ultimately, my hope is to be able to make a demo that will assist in raising grant money to continue our work and finish the film. But right now, the project is out of money.
Which is problematic because David and Prime Lens will be doing a live performance of their most recent recording, "It Happened to Me" in Santa Ana, California on April 27. This is a unique event and it's really our one chance to film it and capture audience reaction to it. In the lead up to the show, we'll spend the better part of a week filming David and his colleagues as they rehearse. We 'll film him visiting with seniors he'd interviewed during a residency at the Grand Central Arts Center in 2017 (people whose conversations were the basis for the recording and the show). And we'll talk to David about a great piece of news - his impending role as a grandfather!
We also hope to interview Louie Perez and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos who have worked with David on the audio piece "Growing Old in East LA" and are engaged with the Santa Ana community. A bonus would be if we could also film artist Ed Ruscha while we're in Southern California. Ed is not only an influence on David and a booster of his work, but he also created the album cover for the new "It Happened to Me" recording.
If we do better than our stated goal, we'll continue to document David's fans and supporters and follow David as he expands his artistic practice to new communities.
Getting this material - in combination with what we've already shot - will allow us to make the demo we need to send to granting organizations to be able to complete Beyond The Duplex Planet.
THE BIG THEMES
The isolation of senior citizens is pretty well-recognized and lamented these days. At the same time, one could certainly argue that technology is moving us all, both old and young, into silos of passivity and loneliness, even as we're inundated with posts, tweets, emails and texts from vast numbers of flesh and blood human beings we mostly don’t see. Though much of David’s work predates today's virtual world, it seems to have forecasted a need that our technological environment helped create.
His work models the simple yet arguably unfamiliar skill of active listening. The Duplex Planet ethos invites us to reach outside of ourselves and engage in the most basic act of conversation with another human being.
We hope that Beyond The Duplex Planet can share and nurture this fundamental concept with a wider audience.
PLEASE SUPPORT BEYOND THE DUPLEX PLANET
We hope you might be able to help us out with a tax-deductible donation to our Beyond The Duplex Planet Kickstarter campaign. But even if that's not possible, we hope you'll consider passing this along to anyone you think might be interested. David's fans are everywhere and there are many people who'd love to see this film happen.
Risks and challenges
The main challenge of this piece is a a classic one of observational-style documentary - it's very open-endedness. How will we craft a compelling narrative out of the material we film? Structuring this film will inevitably require no small amount of brain power - and editing brilliance - to ensure a strong narrative arc. I trust that a structure is there and can be teased out. But I readily acknowledge that I will need to be patient and persistent as things unfold. Fortunately, I do feel that after close to forty years of documentary filmmaking I’m up to the task.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter