Grace Jones. Holy moly. I was only maybe 13 years old or so in 1982, but at that time, former model turned “singer” Grace Jones saw the release of her music video collection “A One Man Show” (aka “State of Grace”). I put “singer” in quotes because she actually talk-sings while maintaining a sort of aloof, masculine character — think Annie Lennox in the field of cows, but with jet black skin. I’d never thought much of Grace Jones’ singing. But a couple days ago I received a DVD of her music videos and I was blown away by her talent, and I now realize her songs are just part of her performance art.
If I were only listening to the music, and not seeing the videos, I’d never have realized what an artist Grace Jones truly is. She appears to me to be the sort of person who realizes that she, her entire body, is a mask. And she plays that concept up in her videos more than a few times – from the show opening up on a man in a monkey suit, to an army of Grace Jones marching by the camera later on. She appears to be a person who incarnated here and was like “woah, people think this surface is what I am… and it is even affecting who I think I am!” (perhaps followed by “How can I draw attention to the fact that we’re responding to surfaces?”)
I am stunned that anyone in 1982 was making artistic works that would surpass much of the video art of today. These are conceptual music videos, or perhaps more accurately described as a closed-set rendition of her stage show. Reminded me a bit of Talking Heads Stop Making Sense which came years later. Maybe she stepped through a time warp or something. I don’t know…
This blog is kind of pointless since you can’t see the video. No one can. Grace Jones is retired, the record company doesn’t care about putting out these videos, they aren’t for sale on DVD or even VHS at this point. The record company hasn’t released it on DVD. I only got it because someone who appreciated it converted it from VHS to DVD on his own. I did my part to send some roaylties her way today by picking up the 2-CD Grace Jones: Private Life (The Compass Point Sessions), which collects her main body of work. As I said, the songs by themselves aren’t particularly good, but at least the backing musicians evoke a sort of Roxy Music vibe which is nice.