IN REMEMBRANCE: 5-18-2014

H. R. GIGER, AN ARTIST WHO GAVE LIFE TO ‘ALIEN’ CREATURE

H. R. Giger in Chur, Switzerland, in 2007 with his paintings, which, he said “crazy” people loved. Credit Arno Balzarini/KEYSTONE, via Associated Press

Sandra Mivelaz, administrator of the H. R. Giger Museum in Gruyères, Switzerland, said he died of injuries suffered in a fall.

Mr. Giger (pronounced GHEE-ger) was part of the team that won an Academy Award for visual effects in “Alien.” He personally designed the title character through all stages of its life, from egg to eight-foot-tall monster.

A thread running through Mr. Giger’s work was the uneasy meshing of machines and biology, in a highly idiosyncratic blend of science fiction and surrealism. From books to movies to record albums to magazine illustrations to a back-scratcher inspired by “Alien,” his designs challenged norms. He kept a notepad next to his bed so he could sketch the terrors that rocked his uneasy sleep — nightmarish forms that could as easily have lumbered from prehistory as arrived from Mars.

Emma Pryke, a sculptor, in London in 1993, looking into the jaws of part of the monster Mr. Giger designed. Credit Johnny Eggitt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Giger’s work disturbs us, spooks us, because of its enormous evolutionary time span,” Timothy Leary, the psychedelic drug guru and a friend of Mr. Giger’s, once said. “It shows us, all too clearly, where we come from and where we are going.”

Tattoo artists loved to copy his work, while detractors dismissed it as so much morbid kitsch. But the artist knew his audience.

“My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy,” Mr. Giger said in a 1979 interview with Starlog magazine.

“Alien,” directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt and John Hurt, established Mr. Giger’s reputation. In the movie the crew of a commercial spaceship finds alien eggs, one of which grows and metamorphoses into a hideous terror, at once reptilian and insectoid, and causes all manner of gruesome mayhem. It reproduces by implanting an egg in a human and bursting out of the host’s chest.

Mr. Giger also created a derelict spacecraft for the film.

The “Alien” creations were refinements of the surreal images that appeared in Mr. Giger’s first book, “Necronomicon” (1977). Mr. Scott hired Mr. Giger after seeing the book.

“I’d never been so certain about anything in all my life,” he later said.

Mr. Giger published around 20 books in all, and his works were exhibited in Paris, Prague and New York. He also created designs for “Alien 3” (1992), “Prometheus” (2012) and other movies. Two bars he designed in Switzerland have been compared to marooned alien spaceships.

Mr. Giger created many album covers as well, including one for the singer Debbie Harry’s 1981 album, “Koo Koo,” which pictures needles piercing her head and neck. In 1991 Rolling Stone magazine ranked it among the top 100 album covers. His vision of a human skull encased in a machine on the cover of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1973 album, “Brain Salad Surgery,” is widely considered a classic.

In the mid-1980s, Mr. Giger created a poster titled “Penis Landscape” for inclusion in an album by the punk band Dead Kennedys. After a 14-year-old girl bought the album for her 11-year-old brother, their parents filed an obscenity suit. It ended in a mistrial.

Hans Ruedi Giger was born on Feb. 5, 1940, in the southeastern Swiss town of Chur. Fascinated with things dark and strange, he regularly visited an Egyptian mummy and sarcophagus in a local museum.

“The places I liked most were the dark ones,” Mr. Giger told the Swiss Public Broadcasting Corporation. “As soon as I could dress myself I wore black.”

His father urged Hans, who called himself a “horrible student,” to follow him into the pharmacy business. Instead he studied industrial design at the School of Applied Arts in Zurich.

After working as an interior designer, he switched to art full time, starting with small ink drawings. He moved on to large airbrushed work on surrealistic themes inspired by Salvador Dalí, who became a friend.

Mr. Giger’s early exhibitions were controversial for their depictions of death and sex. Galleries had to wipe the spit of disgusted neighbors from their windows.

Mr. Giger’s relationship with the Swiss actress Li Tobler ended with her suicide in 1975. His subsequent marriage, to Mia Bonzanigo, ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Carmen Scheifele-Giger.

Mr. Giger opened the Gruyères museum in 1998 in a 400-year-old building. It includes works by Dalí and other Surrealists and an adults-only room bathed in red light.

Some but not all of his movie work is on display. In 2005 Gruyères ordered him to remove a model of the “Alien” monster from outside the museum, saying it was not good for the town’s image.

SOURCE

I am the proud owner of one of H. R. Giger’s necronomicon book series, most notably the following:

Product Details

H. R. Giger’s Necronomicon II by H. R. Giger (Jan 15, 1993)

(9)

 

       

The merging of the physical, the sensual, the sexual, and the mechanical is seen in the fascinating images he created, which led to the now well-known mythos of the Alien saga.

I would not say that his admirers were crazy. Merely avant-garde and with minds of their own in how they see art.

Hans Ruedi Giger.

Surrealist.

Artiste extraordinaire.

Capable of plucking nightmares from the mind, but, also able to give flight to imagination of the biomechanics of the mind and body.

Giger — a man who took us all to the edge of fear, terror, revulsion, and admiration.

Rest in peace, Hans Rudi Giger.

Rest in peace.

*******************************************************

WILLIAM WORTHY, A REPORTER DRAWN TO FORBIDDEN DATELINES

His death, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, was announced on the website of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. Mr. Worthy was a Nieman Foundation fellow in the 1956-57 academic year.

A correspondent for The Afro-American of Baltimore, a weekly newspaper, from 1953 to 1980, Mr. Worthy also contributed freelance reports to CBS News, The New York Post and other publications. He became an international cause célèbre in the early 1960s when, returning from Cuba, he was found guilty of violating United States immigration law.

The son of a distinguished obstetrician, William Worthy Jr. was born in Boston on July 7, 1921.

William Worthy, who worked for The Afro-American of Baltimore for 27 years, with Premier Zhou Enlai in Beijing in 1957. Credit Boston Globe Staff

“Despite the respect and certain privileges derived from membership in a professional ‘black bourgeoisie’ family, my sisters and I were clearly aware, as children, of our ‘inferior’ minority group status,” Mr. Worthy wrote in a 1968 article for The Boston Globe. “ ‘The problem’ was discussed at the dinner table. More importantly, it was all around us.”

After graduating from the Boston Latin School, Mr. Worthy earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Bates College in Lewiston, Me., in 1942. In World War II, though an ulcer would have let him be classified 4-F, he chose to become a conscientious objector.

Mr. Worthy began his career as a press aide for the civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph. During his years at The Afro-American, he kept one foot in the realm of direct advocacy, joining Freedom Riders on their pilgrimages through the South and later becoming a close ally of Malcolm X.

As a journalist, Mr. Worthy quickly earned a reputation for venturing into forbidden places to report on the effects of war, revolution and colonialism. In 1955, he spent six weeks in Moscow, interviewing ordinary citizens and the future Soviet premier Nikita S. Khrushchev, who at the time was first secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

Toward the end of 1956, during his Nieman fellowship, Mr. Worthy, who had spent years petitioning the Chinese government for a visa, learned he had been granted one.

Defying a United States travel ban, he crossed into mainland China from Hong Kong. He was one of the first American journalists admitted there after the United States broke off relations after the 1949 Communist takeover.

He spent 41 days traveling the country, interviewing the premier, Zhou Enlai, as well as people in schools, factories and hospitals.

He also visited the Shanghai prison, where he interviewed American P.O.W.s captured during the Korean War. The United States knew the men were being held somewhere in China, but in several cases Mr. Worthy’s reports were the first to pinpoint their location.

After returning to the United States in 1957, Mr. Worthy tried to renew his passport. The State Department refused.

In a statement, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles said, “It is evident from Mr. Worthy’s testimony that should his passport be renewed he would not feel obligated, under present world conditions, to restrict his travel abroad in any way.”

Indeed, Mr. Worthy felt no such obligation. In 1961, without a passport, he went to Cuba, debarking in Havana from a ship bound from the United States for Mexico. He interviewed Fidel Castro and filed articles about the country under Communism, with particular attention to race relations, which he judged far better than those in the United States.

Returning, he was arrested in Florida and indicted on a charge of entering the country illegally — that is, without a passport. (He had shown immigration officers his birth certificate as proof of citizenship.)

In 1962, in a nonjury trial in federal court in Miami — Mr. Worthy’s lawyers included William M. Kunstler — he was found guilty and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment plus nine months’ probation.

The case became a sensation. Rallies on Mr. Worthy’s behalf were held in cities around the world. The British philosopher Bertrand Russell petitioned the United States attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy, in support of him.

Mr. Ochs wrote “The Ballad of William Worthy,” which includes these lines:

William Worthy isn’t worthy to enter our door.

Went down to Cuba, he’s not American anymore.

But somehow it is strange to hear the State Department say,

You are living in the free world, in the free world you must stay.

In 1964, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned Mr. Worthy’s conviction, ruling that the lack of a passport was insufficient ground to bar a citizen from re-entering the country. Concurring in the opinion was Judge Griffin B. Bell, a future United States attorney general under President Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Worthy was not granted a new passport until 1968. Over the years, his other travels — with a passport or without — took him to North Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Algeria.

In 1981, Mr. Worthy and two colleagues traveled to Iran to examine the effects of the Islamic revolution there. He bought a multivolume set of books said to be reprints of intelligence documents taken from the United States Embassy in Tehran after revolutionary militants seized it in 1979.

Though the books were readily available in Iran and were already circulating in Europe, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, deeming them classified, seized them on the journalists’ return to the United States.

Mr. Worthy was able to furnish a duplicate set to The Washington Post. In 1982, after authenticating them, The Post published a series, based partly on their contents, about United States intelligence operations in Iran.

The federal government agreed that year to pay $16,000 to settle a suit by Mr. Worthy and his colleagues over the seizure.

In later years, Mr. Worthy taught journalism at Boston University; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Howard University; and elsewhere. In 2008, he received the Nieman Foundation’s Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.

His survivors include a sister, Ruth Worthy.

Mr. Worthy was the author of a book, “The Rape of Our Neighborhoods,” published in 1976.

In 1982, The Associated Press asked Mr. Worthy why he had brought the Iranian volumes into the United States. His response could well describe what propelled his entire career.

“Americans,” Mr. Worthy said, “have a right to know what’s going on in the world in their name.”

Correction: May 18, 2014
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the position held by Nikita S. Khrushchev when Mr. Worthy interviewed him in Moscow in 1955. He was the first secretary of the Soviet Communist Party; he had not yet become premier.SOURCE********************************************************

DAVID BALDING, A PRODUCER WHO ADOPTED AN ELEPHANT

David Balding with Flora, the African elephant he bought and more or less adopted in 1984. Credit Raffe Photography Inc.

His wife, Laura, said that he had severe arthritis and other ailments and that he died of a head injury after falling in their home.

Mr. Balding was the central human character — though he was not the star — of the 2011 documentary film “One Lucky Elephant,” about his relationship with Flora, the orphaned baby African elephant he bought and more or less adopted in 1984.

Mr. Balding, a natural impresario who had started his own theater company in his 20s and put on plays directed by Mike Nichols and Harold Pinter, had long wanted to build his own circus, and he placed Flora at the center of that dream, training her to perform and to collaborate with acrobats.

He and a handful of partners created Circus Flora, a family-friendly one-ring affair whose acts — one was a big-little equine comedy team featuring a Clydesdale and a miniature horse — were loosely stitched into a narrative and combined circus and theater techniques. Mr. Balding was the ringmaster.

Circus Flora made its debut at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., in 1986 and toured the United States until making a permanent home in 1988 in St. Louis.

Flora was part of the circus until 2000, when Mr. Balding, who had looked after her as if she were a member of his family, recognized that, as an adult elephant, she needed to live among her kind. The documentary, directed by Lisa Leeman, tells of his search for an appropriate home for her and their subsequent lives apart. In 2004, Flora moved to the Elephant Sanctuary, a natural-habitat refuge in Hohenwald, Tenn.

“There’s no denying the ‘aww’ appeal of a man and an elephant walking down a street, hand in trunk,” Manohla Dargis wrote in reviewing the film for The New York Times. She described it as the story of “a circus man and the wild animal he foolishly bought, helped to train, loved like a (captive) daughter and finally, tearfully, tried to do right by, mostly by letting her go.”

Ivor David Balding came from an animal-loving family. He was born on March 3, 1939, in Manhattan, a son of Ivor G. Balding and the former Frances Godwin. His father was one of three English brothers who had come to fame playing polo in the United States, mostly on Long Island. The elder Balding later became the stable, farm and racing manager for C. V. Whitney, a scion of the Whitney and Vanderbilt families and a breeder of thoroughbreds.

Young David grew up in the Whitney orbit, in Old Westbury, on Long Island, and in Lexington, Ky., where he helped care for the Whitney horses and Angus cattle. He attended the Green Vale School in Old Brookville on Long Island and the Brooks School in North Andover, Mass. Before attending Harvard, he was a summer assistant to the actress Eva Le Gallienne at the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut and briefly worked for a circus in Paris.

Mr. Balding never graduated from Harvard, embarking instead on a career in theater. By 1963, he was in New York, having founded the Establishment Theater Company — his partners included Joseph E. Levine and Peter Cook — which produced, among other shows, “The Ginger Man,” an adaptation of J. P. Donleavy’s novel starring Patrick O’Neal, and “Scuba Duba,” Bruce Jay Friedman’s comedy about a cuckolded American in the South of France.

On Broadway, Mr. Balding was a producer of “The Man in the Glass Booth,” Robert Shaw’s drama, directed by Harold Pinter, about a man who may or may not be a concentration camp survivor. It ran for more than 250 performances in 1968 and 1969.

Among his first shows was “The Knack,” an Off Broadway comedy by Ann Jellicoe about young men on the make, directed by a fresh new face, Mike Nichols, who had just had his first Broadway hit, “Barefoot in the Park.”

Mr. Nichols would later have occasion, when Flora was in New York to perform at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in a show conceived by Martha Clarke, to house her on the grounds of his Connecticut home.

“She was a lovely elephant; we all loved her,” Mr. Nichols recalled in an interview on Tuesday. “I liked to show her to visitors and to feed her peanuts, of course — all the things you do when you have an elephant.”

In the 1970s, Mr. Balding returned to Europe, where, working for CBS, he created and was a co-producer of the Circus World Championships, an Olympic-style competition for circus performers. He later worked as a producer for the Big Apple Circus in New York and eventually moved to a farm in South Carolina that his father had bought. There he hatched plans for his circus, which he started with three partners.

In the meantime, Flora, who was born in Zimbabwe in 1982 and whose parents were killed in a culling, was sold to an elephant trainer and broker in California. Mr. Balding bought her and added her to a menagerie that included Jack, the Clydesdale. After a South Carolina neighbor who was on the board of the Spoleto festival introduced Mr. Balding to the festival’s director, the composer Gian Carlo Menotti, Circus Flora had its first booking. Nigel Redden, the current general director of the festival and then the general manager, recalled in an interview that during the festival’s opening ceremony, the mayor of Charleston rode through the city’s downtown area on Flora’s back.

In addition to his wife, the former Laura Carpenter, whom he married in 1994, Mr. Balding is survived by three sisters, Bettina Blackford, Pamela Jencks and Linda Shearer — and, of course, by Flora, who is still in Tennessee.

At the start of the documentary, Mr. Balding offers a simple explanation for the acquisition that ended up defining him.

“I wanted an elephant,” he says. “I wanted an elephant all my life.”

Correction: May 16, 2014
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the given name of one of Mr. Balding’s partners in the Establishment Theater Company. He was Joseph E. Levine, not David. The earlier version also misstated his mother’s maiden name. She was Frances Goodwin, not Godwin.
SOURCE

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s