"A truly extraordinary artist...Lydia Lunch continues to write sentences so ballistically perfect, so lethally designed, that they always hit their targets — and with deadly effect." — Anthony Bourdain
In 2017, confrontational multi-media artist Lydia Lunch and filmmaker Beth B joined forces to create LYDIA LUNCH The War Is Never Over the first career-spanning documentary retrospective of Lunch’s confrontational, acerbic and always electric artistry. In this moment where the desire for powerfully independent and challenging female figures are in the spotlight, this is the ideal time to be acquainted with Lunch, the psycho-sexual transgressive who forged a vocabulary of rare emotional honesty, philosophy and humor.
In this time of endless attacks on women, of ceaseless war, the film is a story about anyone who has felt that their voice has not been heard, that they have a mouth that they cannot scream from. It is a rallying cry to acknowledge the only thing that is going to bring us together –
as the universal salve to all of our
Lydia Lunch hit late seventies New York City with the killer instincts of a born survivor. Having escaped a disrupted childhood, her refusal to submit to anyone’s will led her to forge her own reality on stage with the unprecedented brutality of Teenage Jesus And The Jerks — a central pillar of the No Wave scene and a legendary name to this day — laying waste to audiences and making her a lightning rod for the alienated spirits of the age. Having collaborated with a diverse collective of artists, writers and musicians including Alan Vega (Suicide), Hubert Selby Jr., and Nick Cave, Lunch inspired future luminaries such as Nicolas Jaar, L7, and Sonic Youth, who would embrace Lunch as the violent heartbeat of their art/music rebellion.
In 1984, she penned the subversive and prescient spoken word piece, "Daddy Dearest", defying the gag order and spoke out about the sexual abuse she suffered as a young girl at the hands of her father. Forty years ahead of her time, Lunch spoke out about breaking the cycle of violence against women and children who have been compelled to hide the truth for fear of being re-victimized for speaking out. With the current explosion of women stepping out of their silence regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, Lydia continues to expose the patriarchy, sexual abuse, the cycle of violence, and corporate greed with stubborn resistance.
Photo by Kathleen Fox
Photo by GODLIS
Photo by GODLIS
Photo by GODLIS
Photo by Kathleen Fox
“A drug fueled, no holds barred, blood soaked pornucopia of art terrorists documenting their personal descent into the bowels of an inferno in a city which felt like the lunatics had taken over the asylum.” — Lydia Lunch
The original femme fatale of the New York underground art scene, Lydia Lunch arrived in the bankrupted ruins of New York City barely 16 years old, escaping the ghettos of Rochester NY, with a penchant for juvenile delinquency and the instincts of a determined hustler. Lunch stole food, robbed one-night-stands of their cash, lived in the squats and did what it took to survive. Unlike most teenage runaways who sink into the less-salubrious urban economies, Lunch made herself an exception — and everyone who was anyone at that time noticed. When Brian Eno chose to produce the No New York compilation of 1978, a showcase for the wildest acts in NYC, Lunch was there as the shrieking voice and guitar fronting one of the most influential bands of the era:
Teenage Jesus And The Jerks.
Lunch refused to stand still or be pinned down to one artistic identity: like a shark, the path was always one of relentless forward motion through a dizzying array of collaborations and provocations ranging from 8 Eyed Spy with Jim Sclavunos (now of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds); to the three-day super-group The Immaculate Consumptive with Marc Almond, Nick Cave and JG Thirlwell; onto her captivating performance with Sonic Youth on the classic serial killer chic of ‘Death Valley 69’.
Onwards, across the eighties, nineties and 2000s, Lunch forged parallel careers in the underground film scene (more than 20 movies including works by Richard Kern, Beth B, James Nares and Asia Argento), spoken word (including releases with Exene Cervenka, Henry Rollins, Hubert Selby, Jr. and Michael Gira), as a lecturer and women’s empowerment coach, and as a writer (with ten books to her name including her 2012 cookbook The Need To Feed: A Hedonist’s Guide), Lunch has forged a lifetime devoted to self-expression and the utter right of any woman to indulge,
to seek pleasure, and to say
“fuck you!” as loud as any man.
Photo by Curt Hoppe
"We came to New York in the 70's as these lost misfits full of a lot of rage and alienation — and somehow saw in each other a way to communicate, not so much through words, but through creativity." — Beth B from the book SWANS: Sacrifice and Transcendence
Voicing the unheard and seeing the unseen are themes that have run through my films with an eye to creating dialogue, community, and a place for self-knowledge and acceptance. My documentary films are social, political and personal investigations; home movies focusing on people I know or have come to know. Lydia Lunch was 19 and I was 23 when we met in the late '70s New York music/film/art scene and brought our radical visions to the underground where we broke boundaries, simultaneously shocking and enticing our audiences with our uncensored music and films. Fast forward to 2017, as I watched the ever brash and luminous Lydia Lunch performing with her extraordinary band, RETROVIRUS, I realized that I needed to make the definitive documentary about Lydia Lunch.
LYDIA LUNCH The War is Never Over blends an audio bed of provocative stories with archival footage of 1970’s bands; photographs of the architectural landscape of New York City; interviews with Lydia Lunch and longtime Lunch collaborators; and contemporary on-stage performances by Lunch. The film is not only about Lunch, but about the scene that she helped spawn, continues to grow and influence, and the creative people who join her in creating a new vision of woman.
The style and fast pace of the film echoes the urgent, aggressive, non-apologetic attitude that Lunch inhabits and is also reflected in some of my other documentaries. Riveting low fi archival footage of Lunch’s spoken word performances create a historical foundation to drill deeply into her psyche as well as into our cultural stagnation regarding violence, sex and war. Interweaving raw personal vérité footage with classically composed interviews offers insights into the emotional and psychological disturbance that drives Lydia Lunch. She is a complex character – a controversial, willful and dramatic outsider artist.