Jess McCabe // 13 August 2008
The Coppolas are a talented, powerful bunch. Admittedly I’ve not exactly been keeping close track, but in all the fuss about the film-making family, I don’t remember hearing a word about Eleanor Coppola, married to Francis Ford.
The Independent ran an interesting extract from her diary this weekend:
In Roman’s nursery-school car pool, I discovered another mother was artist Lynn Hershman. She thought my ideas were interesting. We had intoxicating conversations and created several conceptual art events together. One of our more infamous was held in 1975 in our 22-room Victorian house in San Francisco. Fifty board members from the Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Museums of Modern Art came.
When they arrived, Lynn and I were out of sight, downstairs in the screening-room with a closed-circuit television connection to the living-room. We spoke to our visitors over a large monitor. They could converse with us but only interact with our electronic images.
We invited them to take a self-guided tour of rooms in the house where we had placed exhibits. I knew the audience wasn’t as interested in our art as they were in coming to Francis Ford Coppola’s house, where it was known he kept his five Oscars. In those days when a man won an Oscar, a miniature Oscar was given to his wife to wear on a chain around her neck. I had a jeweller file off the little loop for the chain at the top of the head of my five tiny Oscars, then removed Francis’s from the lighted glass case where they were always kept and displayed my miniature gold statues in their place. In the kitchen the guests were directed to peel a potato and then read a quote from the artist Joseph Beuys, which said, “Peeling a potato can be a work of art if it is a conscious act.”
There were two large cooking pots labelled “Art” and “Not Art”. Each guest had to decide whether his or her peeled potato was art or not and drop it in the appropriate pot. Francis was out of town when Lynn and I staged this event.
From what he heard about it, he saw neither the art in it nor the humour. His feelings were hurt. He thought I was making fun of him, his Oscars, our house. He worked long and hard on his films, and thought conceptual art was too easy. “So some guy shoots himself in the arm [Chris Burden] or pisses off a ladder in a gallery [Tom Marioni] and that’s a big deal?” The only thing Francis finds OK about that period is a Joseph Beuys sculpture I bought him that he didn’t like at the time but is now worth 30 times what I paid. I was not a good wife, by his definition or mine.