In a Word: Carter

An up-and-coming visual artist finds a collaborator in actor James Franco, making a name for himself and getting his strange new film a screening at MoMA.



"I knew James liked art and had bought a painting of mine," Carter says. "So I sent him a long-winded, insane e-mail, outlining my idea to have him revisit every movie he's ever been in."

Franco said yes to Carter's film, and he allowed the artist to cast his leg in rubber for a series of sculptures. The pieces are a riff on gay artist Robert Gober's most iconic work, a man's wax leg dressed in pants, a sock, and a shoe jutting out from the wall along the floor. For the premiere of Erased at Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris last fall, Franco exhibited the sculptures of Franco's leg wearing the actor's own clothing. Carter's sculptures, which are totems of manliness and, quite literally, pieces of a movie star, were quickly snatched up by collectors.

"Carter is part of a tradition that links back to Dada and Duchamp -- of artists interested in destruction as much as creation, of making something new out of taking things apart," says Josh Siegel, associate curator of film at MoMA, who invited Carter to show Erased at the museum.

For Carter, that means taking apart Franco's career, dicing it up into bits of dialogue and gestures. Erased is a cinematic portrait of celebrity deconstruction, which explains why watching the film can feel like watching Franco have a nervous breakdown.

"That, for me, is one of the most interesting parts of the project," Siegel says. "What it shows and says about acting is fascinating. James is raw material, so to speak, for Carter. But he's also the inspiration for the piece. That Franco, a relatively young actor at the beginning of his career, was willing to try something like this is very brave."

Exactly how brave will become clear in the years to come. According to Carter, the two are already working on another film.

Tags: film