City Gallery City Gallery Wellington

Past exhibition

Ira Cohen: The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda

23 July–16 October 2016

A poet and publisher, photographer and filmmaker, Ira Cohen (1935–2011) spent the early 1960s in Tangier, hanging out with William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, and Paul Bowles. After returning to New York in the mid 1960s, he made his ‘phantasmaglorical’ film The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda (31min, 1968)—a classic of counterculture cinema. This psychedelic romp includes sequences shot in a ‘Mylar chamber’—a room lined in the reflective material—generating drug-like distortions. As Cohen explained: ‘It’s like going on an ecstatic journey to another planet, full of magical beings, animals and plants.’