Keith Mayerson


Hamlet 1999, 1997


This is a picture of Lawrence Olivier, actually as Henry V from his famous film. I repurposed the character, as I love Olivier but also Hamlet, and at this time was making images to fit a sci-fi fantasy take off of Hamlet—Hamlet 1999. At the time (and still!) I have a thwarted view of power, skeptical to a fault of "absolute power corrupting absolutely". Of course the adolescent Hamlet is much the same, and defies his power whilst at the same time confronting patriarchal power—his evil monarchy of his time. Olivier was also gay, or at least "Hollywood Bisexual", and like Montgomery Clift, brought a new sensitivity to his portrayals of maleness—even his Henry V is both feminine but powerful, lovingly loquacious in his dandy-ish manner. Olivier was also one of the greatest, most influential, and powerful actor—and director—he created this film (and his Hamlet), and his foppish take on Henry was so moving that Churchill used it as propaganda to motivate his masses in WWII. A great artist in a great film by the master Shakespeare, I'm hoping my take can hold a candle and still resonate with deeper meanings. Another image from the same series was in my infamous Jay Gurney NYC solo debut, where I freaked out the art-going public, weaving emotion and abstraction through appropriated imagery in a way that was then misunderstood but now hopefully ahead of its time.