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Fucking Christmas

Julián Álvarez


In 1988, for the production of El Ring, Alvarez attached two tiny cameras to the gloves of two dancing boxers. Months later, he expands this technique into the first “FishCam” (literally, a fishing camera), which he will try out in Lydia Lunch’s concert in Barcelona’s Sala Zeleste. This is how Fucking Christmas was made. Images of the high priestess of the aggressive New York scene of the Eighties, assisted live by the piano player Pepe Sarto and prerecorded sounds, captured by Alvarez’s distorted eye.

Lydia Lunch, passionate and insolent, like a preacher, incites the public to the music of Pepe Sarto. She is sinister in a childlike way, her reactions go from self-confidence to containment, to the obstinacy of her nervous strength, courage and erotic independence. The performance, recorded with the FishCam invented by Alvarez, takes place along rhythms, echoes, smoke and the abandonment of the live gig by the femme fatale of No Wave. It looks like a nightmare that responds to her movements on stage, exaggerating even more the sense of anguish of a shouted speech of nihilistic texts and face-offs with fear, pain and dissatisfaction, orgasm and a sweet death.

The FishCam  translates McLuhan’s notion of technology as an extension of the human being by applying to vision a mechanism made up of a microcamera attached to the end of a pole. The lighting on stage is caught on camera by radically breaking the image into white and black, with hardly any nuances. The image, distorted by the wide-angle lens, modifies Lunch and the space around her. The atypical characteristics of the camera mechanism emphasise the light contrasts, effecting a sort of anamorphosis of the space, with unusual points of view and camera movements. Because of its light weight and quality, which allows the operator to use his whole body as support, the FishCam is able to quickly capture images from any angle. The result is a voyeuristic and sensual narration, a kind of continuous observation which almost touches Lunch.

On screen is an almost coital relation climaxing in an audiovisual orgasm. It is a relation established via the camera device between the subject and the object of observation, deformed by the camera framings, angles and movements, and broken up by inserts of images of the Barcelona night during Christmas. These last low angle shots were taken with the FishCam from a moving car. Christmas lights turn into light trails, like bars of an illusory cell, the bars of another “fucking Christmas”.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Fucking Christmas
  • Direction: Julián Álvarez
  • Production: Julián Álvarez. 1990.
  • Team:

    Coordination & VTR: Glòria Basté
    Sound: Gat
    Off line edition: Julián Álvarez
    On line edition: Manel G. Frasquiel
    Singer-Performer: Lydia Lunch
    Piano: Pepe Sarto
    Texts Lydia Lunch: Great Ogro - Harry Crews - Full Metal - Oil Drum - It´S All Desert - Coleman Skronk - X-Xile
    Music: Kim Thirwell - Mark Cunningham - Lucy Hamilton

  • Duration: 00:13:50
  • Languages: English
  • Original format: Betacam SP
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright