by Chris MaGee
Okay, that headline is taking a certain amount of liberty. Yes, Pop artist Andy Warhol's was famously quoted as having said that "Everyone is famous for 15-minutes," but the 500 "screen test" portraits that he shot between 1964 and 1966 weren't 15-minute's long. They were only 2.5-minutes long. but they felt longer, if not for the viewer then for their subjects. The object was dead simple - a person sat in front of a camera set up on a tripod for 2.5-minutes. That's it, but it's the people that Warhol had sit for these "screen tests" that makes them fascinating, and one person in particular that merits their mention here on the Pow-Wow blog.
In amongst the Factory regulars like party girl Edie Sedgwick, drag queen Ondine, and poet John Giorno, as well as celebrities like Dennis Hopper and Allen Ginsberg Japanese film fans can glimpse none other than late actress Kyoko Kishida. In September of 1964 Kishida was in New York City for the U.S. premiere of Hiroshi Teshigahara's "Woman in the Dunes" and it was then that she visited Warhol's Factory for her screen test. At that point Kishida's performance (and nudity) in Teshigahara's screen adaptation of Kobo Abe's novel had made the then 34-year-old actress an international art house sensation. Fame and sensation being like a honey to a bee for Warhol it makes sense that Kishida became a subject of his unblinking camera.
Sadly we couldn't track down Kishida's "screen test" online, so you'll have to take the above image as our word for it. Thanks to our friend Astral Vibrations on Facebook for this intriguing piece of film history.