This summer, 12 leading non-profit and alternative art spaces in New York co-host a city-wide exhibition of the work of pioneering artist John Giorno, curated by Ugo Rondinone. As part of the festival, High Line Art presents a video portrait in the style of Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests by Michael Stipe and Dominic DeJoseph and starring John Giorno.
In 2011, Michael Stipe and Dominic DeJoseph directed two video pieces for this song, one with Kirsten Dunst and another with Giorno. Upon their release, these stark, simple portraits became the final visual representation for the band R.E.M.
Stipe explains the creation of the videos: “I first met John Giorno in the mid-1990s at a small party in Kansas for his great friend William Burroughs. He was easily one of the most charismatic and physically stunning men I had ever had the pleasure to meet. Many years later, in New York, I went to the opening of Andy Warhol: Screen Tests at the Museum of Modern Art. I saw John standing alone, quietly, in the middle of a crowded room. I approached him, we spoke, he hugged me, and that was that. In 2011, my band R.E.M. was writing the last three songs we would ever record—I was struggling to finish the lyrics—and I woke up one night in the middle of a dream. In the dream I had approached John and my neighbor, the actress Kirsten Dunst, and asked them each if they would participate in a video piece to accompany the song. Without hesitation they both said yes. In We All Go Back To Where We Belong, John, I asked John to sit quietly for the length of the song. I hit ‘record’ on the video camera, and surprised him by singing the song a cappella as we filmed. His reaction is just what I had hoped for—surprise, delight, embarrassment, a calm amusement—exactly like my dream. The song has been performed three times—once for John, once for Kirsten and once at Carnegie Hall.”
Image: Michael Stipe & Dominic DeJoseph, We All Go Back To Where We Belong, John, 2011 (still). Courtesy of the artists.