As the illustrator/film maker/animator Lew Keilar, the producer and filmer of the vid, said:
Music video for Jeff Duff’s thoughtful and dynamic composition Logical Questions to God.
Experimental, immersion-style music clip using rollerblades as the main tracking platform. [...] Shot with a SONY Handycam [...] located in Sydney, Melbourne and rural New South Wales and Victoria.
Duff recently commented on his facebook that he didn’t regard himself as a celebrity – as well as offing his banana again. Both of these themes were taken up in a Sydney Morning Herald article on Jeff Duff, 25 Sept 2004. Richard Jinman was the journalist. Thanks to Justin Pearson for the material.
From the bashing that greeted him back in Oz, after a decade of “losing touch with my genitals,” the article almost assures us that, when not packing fruit, Jeff Duff doesn’t suffer from, say, “Fame, that makes things hollow.” Or “Fame, fame, fame,” in general. Or is it like Tiberius, wasn’t it, who didn’t want to return to power to win a war if it stopped him from growing cabbages? A Tiberius Complex? But one that still makes Duff the hardest working artist in Australia, there to F your mind over and over and over again.
Visual artists have espied a lot about the Duff, in their visuo-intelligent ways. Like that portrait greeting goers-down to The Basement, once bled for delight and goodwill, to see him in silken blouse, against a warm cabaret drop, coolly fitted against a soporific wall of blue – now here before it in striking creams, with a watch about his otherwise nubile left-wrist, his right-arm in frozen salute to rest his countenance upon; and a winking eye where once eye-fulls of reflection did floweth. All as he art-masters the situation. But who these artists?
Yes, the Walk on the Wildside faces of Duff by Richard Sharah, soon after he crafted Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes face. Yes, award-winning music-vids by Lew Keilar of Duff songs. But as for still artists …
Justin Pearson – painter-most-prized of Australian opera – gives Duff in angelic mode – brushing him down on wood in oil with wings – about the time (1994) of Duff’s Angels and Rascals album. Is this not the most transliminal of Pearson’s subjects? By setting Duff against a wood grain, Pearson accentuates Duff’s über-naturalness – whorls-n-whirls well setting off the Duff without containing his wonderousness. Maybe this painting recoups but surpasses a theme of that Wim Wenders movie “Wings of Desire” (Himmel über Berlin, 1987); that amongst us, there are angels with human biographies, in our very own necks of the wood. Yep, proving the point, here’s a pic of Duff like a Wenders angel, but smiling over human traffic, and smiling back to any kid rising over it. The painter, Justin Pearson, has kindly informed us of the following inspiral thoughts, with more pix from the Duff-Pearson Experience:
"In 1994, Surry Hills, I meet Jeff at an art exhibition in Sydney. At that time i was looking for a good subject to portray at the Archibald. He said yes and i was thrilled to paint such a great singer and charismatic figure. I did two portraits of him in oils. One small one on wood (i thought the grain of the wood was a bit psychedelic and so matched him). He asked me if I could put Angel wings on him (angels were the thing at that time, like vampires are now) so wings it was. The other painting oil’s on canvas was very big, so big I had to do it in two parts (not a good thing to do for an art comp), one on top of the other, portrait size.
"He and I spent a lot of fun time painting the portraits, Me splatting colour on canvas and him singing and posing. Sorry to say the large painting did not get in the Archibald. I understand now, it’s not the way you paint and the techniques of painting but also the way you present the painting. Some might say it’s the subject matter or who you know, but I think Jeff is an Icon and a great benefit to the music world and Australia." – Justin Pearson
Justin Pearson’s Duffodyssey
Catherine Hourihan’s New Wave Ghost
Art-photographer Catherine Hourihan shows Duff amid a series of Phantastical Portraits that featured in many of Duff’s 2013 publicities. The collection was exhibited recently at m2 gallery in Surry Hills. Ms Hourihan kindly writes the following for us Duffophiles …
"I conceived and directed the shoot, it was shot in the tunnel at Museum Station and it was a lot of work liaising with the Downing centre and organising the lights etc. I thought of Jeff because I met him briefly in the early 90s when my friend Mark Chochrane made that amazing video for Jeff’s version of walk on the wild side. Not long after that I went to NY for over a decade but I guess I never forgot him; I loved the clip and his singing. When I returned to Sydney I began a serious photographic practice and I thought of Jeff.
"The portraits are about combining the mythical and other worldly with mundane reality, how there is a magical element to existence just beneath the surface of everyday life.
I called the portrait of Jeff ‘New Wave Ghost’. I think he embodies an era but also he has a whimsical, other worldly quality. My direction to him was imagine you are from the past and you found yourself here and that you can see the future. He just went with it and we got a beautiful evocative image.
"I'm very excited that Jeff is using the pictures on his next album "Walking on Eggshells." I can't wait to hear it."
Hourihan's photos remind of Bowie on the escalators of "Ricochet," to the tune of doubt and dog-howled "Heroes"; and the "hours ..." shoots, as below. But as opposed to Bowie's exhaustion, and invitation, Duff's stance is, in part, puppet-like, inspiring by bald curiosity as he goes into a Frankenstein walk, still wanting back his brain; a frozen-momented street-mime; a rabbit at the end of a shot-gun, caught out for being curious; a neo-über mainman in a late Space Odyssey.
Penelope Beveridge's photos for Duff's Fragile Spaceman give off, momentarily, a gasp; and then a reverie, and then a storm. Babes just think of the morbid; those who've walked some miles are mystiqued, walk its wharf, fall off its plank, and enter its world; dance not with death but tear off their skirts to excite Querelle, the man who kills the thing he loves, lost at the precipice of human touch, in love with Duff songs, submitted to heavenly ends. Da-ti-dah, l'art de Duff. Beveridge's Duff could be the antithesis of Fassbinder's Querelle, but strip away lust and loss, and we end up with similar eyes upon the seas, meditating over the waves of the world in blind wonder.
From quizzical starts, we now end the same: to a donkey-doll called Jeff. Is this our Duffo? Here's how the artist, Grace Garton, describes the doll:
"Jeff is a most entertaining donkey, singing and dancing to 20's vaudeville and 80's music! Jeff would make a lovely addition for collectors of vintage dolls and toys. Jeff a wears a red and white polka-dot pair of britches detailed with vintage cloth covered buttons. He also sports a racy little red checked scarf and a little rusty pin and bell. ... His eyes are made from two vintage chocolate brown buttons. Jeff has been distressed using coffee to give him a vintage look [but he has] a warm layer of varnish to protect him from the elements. He measures 9 inches high and 6 inches wide from ear to ear." – Grace Garton
This doll was a featured work in the Spring 2013 edition of Stampington and Company's Prims magazine, a deluxe publication of contemporary doll-art rivalling painting itself, and older than photography. Still, if this is Duff, it is a non-representational, impressionistic, take on the artist; us 'philes don't remember Duffo ever appearing in polka-dot pants. (We understand that the artist might be working on a more associative representation of the Duff, in a doll; let's keep our buttons peeled.)
Meanwhile, let's look over, again, how an artist of the moving (and still) image, Lew Keilar, has captured The Mighty Duff:
“Congratulations on the JDS site. It really is amazing, comprehensive and accurate … and very well written. Your research is sublime … Thank you for all the hard work [2011/07/07] … You continue to impress me with your handsomely constructed and informative insights into ‘Duffoworld’ [2012/05/17]” — J. Duff