William Burroughs and Brion Gysin in the Beat Hotel

Friday, January 30, 2009
8:00 PM at

Co-sponsored by the Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library at Emory University

Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Naked Lunch, this one-night exhibition includes rare books, films, and recordings of Beat literature icon William S. Burroughs

The Dreamachine in action at the Beat Hotel, from Towers Open Fire

Paris, 1959. William Burroughs was staying in a rundown hotel at 9 rue Git-le-Coeur, on the Left Bank. His artist friend Brion Gysin had recently moved into Allen Ginsberg’s former room at the hotel. By year’s end, Burroughs would assemble and publish the final version of Naked Lunch, the landmark novel which turned its author into an icon of Beat literature.

During their time on the rue Git-le-Coeur, Burroughs and Gysin developed a
radical system of artistic expression, and applied their ideas across media: writing, painting, sound art, and filmmaking. Central to these pursuits was Gysin’s accidental discovery of the “cut-up” – a method of writing in which texts are literally cut up and rearranged, revealing hidden meanings and subverting the foundations of language. With such collaborators as Ginsberg and Gregory Corso adding to the experimentation and aura, 9 rue Git-le-Coeur became legendary as the “Beat Hotel.”

"Minutes to Go," a one-night exhibition and screening, celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Naked Lunch by exploring the surprisingly wide range of artistic experiments undertaken by Burroughs and Gysin during their Paris stay. Rare books and other items from the Danowski Collection at Emory University’s Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Library will be on view. Also featured are the short films The Cut-Ups and Towers Open Fire, two collaborations between Burroughs, Gysin, and filmmaker Antony Balch which encapsulate on film the cut-up technique and its powerful, hallucinatory effects.

William S. Burroughs in Towers Open Fire (1963)

Please note: some of the films and works in this event utilize flicker effects and stroboscopic light. Persons susceptible to flicker-induced seizure should use caution.


Towers Open Fire (film directed by Antony Balch, featuring William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, 1963, 10 minutes) screened in 16mm
The Cut-Ups (film directed by Antony Balch, featuring William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, completed 1963, 18 minutes) © The William S. Burroughs Trust, screened with the permission of the Wylie Agency LLC

additional short films TBA

Display of rare books, photos and Beat Hotel-related items from the Brion Gysin archive and Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory

program subject to change

290 Martin Luther King Jr Dr Suite 8, Atlanta, GA, 30312

MINUTES TO GO is a Film Love event, programmed and hosted by Andy Ditzler for Frequent Small Meals. Film Love exists to provide access to great but rarely-screened films, and to promote awareness of the rich history of experimental and avant-garde film. Film Love was voted Best Film Series in Atlanta by the critics of Creative Loafing in 2006.

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