Faust/Faustus In Deptford
Faust/Faustus in Deptford, a 15-minute digital video directed by Leon Johnson, imagines Christopher Marlowe’s 16thC Faustus and Goethe’s 19thC Faust in the last few minutes of their lives as nomadic allies. This travelogue interweaves documentation of live performance and psycho-geographical drift, triangulating the unmapped distances between the Faustus legend, Christopher Marlowe's death in Deptford near the river Thames and Oscar Wilde's vandalized tomb in Paris.
The travelogue begins with an image of Faustus' Helen of Troy, a flaming relic cursing history, mocking fame, taunting Marlowe's Faustus in his last hour as he tries to recall the pleasures of his decadent contracts and begins to perceive his own double and double-Helen from Goethe's Faust. Faustus and Faust meet to wander points of location and of loss. First emerging from the Woolwich Arsenal Tunnel, Faust and Faustus ascend from under the river to the light of this "new world" drifting from the river to nearby Maryon Park, the exact site where Michaelangelo Antonioni filmed (in 1966) the scene of the crime at the center of Blow- Up, a scene and site in sympathetic riddle to the journey Faust and Faustus are making. The primary directional shift of the travelogue is from the documentation of an "intervention" at the site of Oscar Wilde's tomb in Pere LaChaise cemetery in Paris, a determined pilgrimage to repair for a silver moment a 1919 act of dismemberment against the Sphinx that hovers atop Wilde's tomb. In this duty of reMembering, Faust and Faustus pay their last respects, honoring the generative sympathy resistant to scandal and ruin. From Paris, the two are able to make their final trip to Deptford, to visit the site of Marlowe's murder and burial ground, another riddled loss of a poet both decadent and brave, another prophet of this new world. And from the graveyard they find their way along a blighted urban path in Deptford to the polluted banks of the river Thames, where, in fading light, the travelogue documents a final drift of chance discovery – a rusted message, a final memory of unmappable love, and the appearance in blue twilight of a miserable guide to the next or the last destination.