Saturday, May 31st, 2008
Since the publication of his Autobiography of Howard Hughes in 1972, the life of writer Clifford Iriving has been nothing but adventure. That book was a “fake” and unauthorized biography of the eccentric aviator and film director Howard Hughes (1905-1976), an American tycoon billionaire who died in 1976 after being in reclusion the last years of his life. The so-called autobiography, a creative concoction of Clifford Irving and his conspirator Dick Suskind, caused a scandal when the reclusive Hughes declared it a hoax, ending in the imprisonment of the authors.
In an attempt to revisit the process and controversy of the book’s making, or say, the life of one its authors, Clifford Irving himself, Miramax produced the film The Hoax. Lying somewhere between dramatization and fictionalization, this film is loosely based on Clifford Irving’s story, narrated first and most accurately in a book by him with the same title. The film was released in 2007; the book published in 1981. Not surprisingly, the film is far from and adaptation of his book, and Clifford Irving claims it a hoax in itself.
Fakes. Hoaxes. Cons. Doubles. Re-makings. Multiple narratives. These are also the subjects of Orson Welle’s 1974 film F for Fake, wherein Clifford Irving plays himself—or not. Finally, we can get to know. This year, his autobiography, Phantom Rosebuds by Clifford Irving was published by Dexter Sinister and this along with the exhibition as event as book tour with the savvy title The Clifford Irving Show is produced by curator Raimundas Malasauskas. To date, it has been presented in California at New Langton Arts in San Francisco and at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in collaboration with Art 2102 in Los Angeles.
I had the luck of sitting next to Clifford Irving on an air-flight to China some weeks ago. It was a special flight, indeed, filled with coincidence and surprise. It was the perfect way to meet the man. Inspired by the writer’s lifetime and work, as well as by the self-designated Fake Market and shadow economies that I experienced while traveling in China, I interviewed Clifford Irving some days after we met on air. Click below to read this interview and to get more details on Phantom Rosebuds and The Clifford Irving Show.