Wheels of Perception

Psychedelism, Pop Art, sexy heroines and sensual motorcycles. Guy Peellaert, Anita Fontaine, André Pieyre de Mandiargues, and others.

Tinted with a strong dose of Surrealism (for the dreamy drift) and a large measure of Pop Art (for coloring and composing), Pravda la survireuse, created in 1967 by Guy Peellaert (in Hara-Kiri) operates the junction between the feminist outrageous revolt of Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! (1965) and the archetype of the motorcycle woman rider developed in the Girl on A Motorcycle (1968).

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Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Russ Meyer, 1965) Tura Satana as Varla
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La Motocyclette, The Girl on a Motorcycle (Jack Cardiff, 1968)
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The Girl on a Motorcycle, Marianne Faithfull

It’s the erotic-fantastic literature of André Pieyre de Mandiargues who introduced in Europe the character of a free and rebellious woman biker, mysterious, ready to fight and to experiment. La Motocyclette (The Motorcycle), published in 1963, will be the inspiration for The Girl On A Motorcycle (he adapted the screenplay himself).

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Across the Atlantic, the powerful longing for a different world, for a transcendental and ideal elsewhere, grabs the fantasized legacy of Hollywood Westerns movies and seasons it with Rock n’roll music, endless Highways and screaming bike engines.

Emancipation, transgression, individualism and the quest for absolute then determine the birth of a wild and modern heroine, who aptly blends the features of the French singer Françoise Hardy and the hyper sensual curves of Varla (Faster Pussycat). Pravda defies the boundaries between genres, resists to categorization. She is inspired by the Cinema, transcribes the contemporary mythologies into symbols saturated with primary colors. Each frame contains a full narrative, where text and image are often merging. The Panther-bike roars, skids, and forces the reader to tumble down the hallucinatory and psychedelic spiral of an overdosed world. Peellaert relinquished comics afterwards, to compose his masterpiece, Rock Dreams (1973), a serie of photorealistic portraits inspired by the music scene.

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In 2013, Christophe Blain pays a tribute to the work of Guy Peellaert with La Fille (The Girl), woman biker inspired by actress Ali MacGraw (Love Story, 1970). By locating the action in the wide  American Wild West, he suggests the coming back to one of the original references, as a strange mirror of Pravda. A slender Beauty riding an English motorcycle in the California desert against organic Women and bike sliding between the shapeless buildings of an even city.

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The strange Girl On A Motorcycle of Mandiargues and the psychedelic treatment of Peellaert meet again in Anita Fontaine’s experimental video, in a more modern and darker way. As a negative of the solar colors, she imposes the cold neons lights of a world filled with mysterious energies.

The psychedelic Sixties are nothing but a distant impression on the retina, a vague memory that we invoke when monotony sets in, a short colorful momentum that pops up unconsciously, as a reminiscence of childhood. In the often black and white world of custom motorcycles, a few colours-based extravaganza achieve to loosen the scene. El Solitario’s Honda 125 Black! Punk! and Rock! or Rick Fairless’ flowery Choppers (Strokers Dallas). To open our minds to new aesthetic dimensions.

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El Solitario, Honda 125 Black! Punk! Rock! (photo Kristina Fender)
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Rick Fairless (Strokers Dallas), Pam & Wilma
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