Alexandra Fairweather directed and produced 'HEAARTBEAT,' an independent documentary that focuses on the art and life of the world renowned sculptor, the late John Chamberlain. By documenting Chamberlain's artistic process and intentions, the film reveals his desire to go out into the world and create art that makes your heart beat.
The movie looks at Chamberlain's body of work, which spans over 50 years and includes various mediums, including works made from metal, foam, aluminum foil, paper, and plexiglass. Various interpretations of Chamberlain's work are explored including Corinna Thierolf's comparison of Chamberlain's work to Bernini's St. Teresa, Professor David Getsy's assertion that Chamberlain's focus on volume and color stems from Chamberlain's experiences as a hairdresser and makeup artist following WWII, and Chamberlain's lifelong friend, Nathan Joseph, who says his work is very sexual and sensual. While Chamberlain acknowledges that there are many hidden meanings in his work, he refuses to talk about what his art means. Rather he asserts that art is the last place, where people can have 'an experience of self-discovery.'
‘HEAARTBEAT’ captures the man that the public has not seen before: Chamberlain as a father, a husband, and a friend. The documentary looks at Chamberlain's interest in parenting and his desire in the early 1990's to 'adopt some kids' that could 'play on his sculptures.' Shortly thereafter, Chamberlain meets and begins to date Prudence Fairweather, who has a 2 year old daughter, Alexandra, and is pregnant with her second daughter, Phoebe. Subsequently, Chamberlain got the family he was looking for.
As he battles health issues, Chamberlain fervently works to complete sculptures that will leave his mark on the world. Following Chamberlain's death in December 2011, Alexandra finds solace in the fact that Chamberlain's art will live on. In conclusion, the movie asserts that art's true value comes from the presentation of 'unprecedented information' and 'the experience of self discovery.'
Waking up to a house filled with leading artists of the 20th and 21st century strangely became my norm. I would listen intently as my stepfather, the late John Chamberlain, and his fellow artists described a new movement, emerging artist or trend. When I was 14 years old, I got a video camera and started to shoot Chamberlain as we traveled around the world to different exhibitions of his work. Now 7 years later, I have hundreds or hours of footage of Chamberlain, showing not only Chamberlain's art, but also his life as a father, a husband, and a friend. I wanted to create a film that showed Chamberlain's artistic process and intent as well as Chamberlain as a person -- a side that few people get to see. The film in many respects represents my own journey of losing a parent. The process allowed me to realize that at the end of the day even though Chamberlain is no longer alive, I get to see his art all around me wherever I go in the world.
"How wonderful to have this moving, sometimes funny, often surprising record of Chamberlain talking, Chamberlain working, Chamberlain being (unfailingly) himself, in a documentary produced over 7 years. An in-depth portrait of his highly productive late years, the film includes commentaries by friends and associates. All the while, a sensitive, inquisitive camera roams the studios and gives us abundant time to study the sculptures, in different lighting conditions and from many angles, from near and far."
- Betsy Baker, Former Editor of Art In America
"Alexandra Fairweather's HEAARTBEAT doesn't make you "FEEL" that you were there. It virtually PUTS YOU IN THAT ROOM, the room where the subject and the film maker were, for a moment in time, TOGETHER. Alexandra's grace and restraint with camera and editing is uncommon among new directors. She wants you to know and feel what she felt and knew about her subject JOHN CHAMBERLAIN and does a damned good job of catching the unique lightning of his world view and personality in her very personal "BOTTLE" and she does so, admirably."
- James Signorelli, DGA, Film Producer/Director
"Everyone in the room can feel him, in mind and heart, thanks to you. You kept him real, bearish, mocking, funny, and in instants so tender, so loving, so immediately vividly himself, he was undoubtedly right there. You have given us all a great gift through your loving, honest, clear un-saccharine record of John Chamberlain."
- Penelope Creeley, widow of poet Robert Creeley