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Nick Zedd

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Nick Zedd
Zedd at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival
James Franklyn Harding III

(1956-01-25)January 25, 1956
DiedFebruary 27, 2022(2022-02-27) (aged 63)
Mexico City, Mexico
  • Director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
  • author
Years active1979–2015

Nick Zedd ( James Franklyn Harding III; January 25, 1956 – February 27, 2022)[1] was an American filmmaker, author, and painter based in Mexico City. He coined the term Cinema of Transgression in 1985 to describe a loose-knit group of like-minded filmmakers and artists using shock value and black humor in their work. These filmmakers and artistic collaborators included Richard Kern, Tessa Hughes Freeland, Lung Leg, Kembra Pfahler, and Lydia Lunch. Under numerous pen names, Zedd edited and wrote the Underground Film Bulletin (1984–1990) which publicized the work of these filmmakers. The Cinema of Transgression was explored in Jack Sargeant's book Deathtripping.[2]

Early life[edit]

Zedd was born in Takoma Park, Maryland, on January 25, 1956. Zedd moved to New York in 1976 to study at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts.[2]


Zedd directed several super-low-budget feature-length movies, including They Eat Scum, Geek Maggot Bingo, War Is Menstrual Envy and numerous short films. With Jen Miller, he was a co-creator of the public access series Electra Elf (2004-08), featuring New York artists and performers including Miller, Faceboy and Andrew J. Lederer. He served as director of photography on another TV series called Chop Chop (2007), produced by Nate Hill.[2]

Additionally, Zedd acted in such low-budget movies as the Super 8 film The Manhattan Love Suicides (1985), What About Me (1993), Bubblegum (1995), Jonas in the Desert (1997), Terror Firmer (1999), and Thus Spake Zarathustra (2001). He also appeared in the documentaries Llik Your Idols (2007) and Blank City (2010).[2]

Zedd is the author of two autobiographical books, Bleed: Part One (1992)[3] and Totem of the Depraved (1997),[4] as well as the self-published novel From Entropy to Ecstasy (1996).[5] He also contributed to the anthologies Up Is Up But So Is Down,[6] Captured[7] and Low Rent.[8] In the 1980s Zedd published ten issues of the Underground Film Bulletin, a zine intended to promote the Cinema of Transgression. Issue 4 contained the Cinema of Transgression Manifesto, which was also published in The Theory of Xenomorphosis (1998).[9]

In the early 1990s, Zedd toured with Lisa Crystal Carver's Suckdog Circus, exhibiting his films. Performing with experimental noise music band Zyklon Beatles, Zedd released the "Consume and Die" 7-inch single on Rubric Records in 2000.[9]

After exhibiting oil paintings in 2010 at the ADA and Pendu galleries, Zedd presented a major retrospective of films, videos, and paintings at the Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn.[10][11][12]

In 2012, he attended a retrospective of his films at the eighth Berlin International Directors Lounge and exhibited work at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in the same city.[13][14]

In 2013, Zedd published The Extremist Manifesto, an essay denouncing contemporary art and the class structure that promotes it while announcing the emergence of the Extremist Art movement in Mexico City, which sought to subvert the edicts of established art institutions and curatorial ideologues. This manifesto, first released online, then in a self-published Hatred of Capitalism magazine issued in Mexico City (in English and Spanish) was reprinted a year later by the Museo Universitario del Chopo,[15] along with two more issues as part of the Fanzinoteka exhibition. At a screening at the New Museum in New York, Zedd was presented with the Acker Award for Lifetime Achievement, a tribute given to "members of the avant garde arts community who have made outstanding contributions in their discipline in defiance of convention, or else served their fellow writers and artists in outstanding ways".[16]

In 2014, Zedd exhibited three motion pictures at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of a posthumous retrospective of films by Christoph Schlingensief, who had cited Zedd as a major influence on his work.[17] Later in 2014, Zedd presented his first public exhibition of paintings in Mexico City, in a group show curated by Aldo Flores at Salon des Aztecas Gallery in Coyoacán. In 2015, Zedd presented his first one-man show of paintings at the V&S Gallery in Mexico City. Zedd also shot an 8mm short entitled Paradise Lost.[citation needed]

Personal life and death[edit]

Zedd died from complications from cirrhosis of the liver, cancer, and hepatitis C, in Mexico City, on February 27, 2022, at the age of 63.[18] He was survived by his partner of 15 years, Monica Casanova, as well as two sons and a step-daughter.[2]


  • They Eat Scum (1979)[19]
  • The Bogus Man (1980)
  • Geek Maggot Bingo (1983)[20][21]
  • The Wild World of Lydia Lunch (1983)
  • Thrust in Me (1984)
  • School of Shame (1984)
  • Kiss Me Goodbye (1986)
  • Go to Hell (1986)
  • Police State (1987)
  • Whoregasm (1988)
  • War Is Menstrual Envy (1992)
  • Smiling Faces Tell Lies (1995)
  • Why Do You Exist (1998)
  • Tom Thumb in the Land of the Giants (1999)
  • Ecstasy in Entropy (1999)
  • I of K9 (2001)
  • Elf Panties: The Movie (2001)
  • Lord of the Cockrings (2001)
  • Thus Spake Zarathustra (2001)
  • I Was a Quality of Life Violation (2002)
  • Electra Elf: Dance With the Devil (2003)
  • Electra Elf: Maggot on a Hot Tin Roof (2003)
  • Electra Elf: Old Man & the Sea Monkey (2003)
  • Electra Elf: Great Shrunken Expectations (2004)
  • Electra Elf: Roof Party (2004)
  • Electra Elf: I, Nauseous (2004)
  • Electra Elf: Hellbound Heiresses (2004)
  • Electra Elf: Deadly Little Trees (2005)
  • Electra Elf: Triumph of the Ill (2005)
  • Electra Elf: Of Lice and Men (2005)
  • Electra Elf: The Beginning Parts One & Two (2005)
  • Electra Elf: Don't Worry Bee Happy (2006)
  • Electra Elf: Vile Buddies (2006)
  • Electra Elf: Battle of the Bands (2006)
  • Electra Elf: No Plague Like Home (2007)
  • Filthy Rich (2007)
  • Electra Elf: We All Scream for Ice Cream (2007)
  • Electra Elf: Behind the Scenes (2007)
  • Mistakes Hapen (2007)
  • Electra Elf: Hollow Be Thy Name (2007)
  • Electra Elf: Goin to the Chapel (2007)
  • Electra Elf: Gone with the Mind (2008)
  • NYC/MEXICO (2011)
  • The Birth of Zerak (2011)
  • Paintings 2009-11 (2011)
  • Frustration/Dr. Shinto (2011)
  • Cockfight (2012)
  • El Manifiesto Extremista (2013)
  • Demonic Sweaters: Love Always Love (2014)
  • Paradise Lost (2015)
  • The Death of Muffinhead (2016)
  • Attack of the Particle Disruptors (2016)
  • Demonica (2017)
  • Eclipse of the Ectoparasite (2017)
  • The Reckoning (2019)


  1. ^ John Franklyn Harding III, birth announcement. Kearney Daily Hub, January 25, 1956. Kearney, Nebraska.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Nick Zedd (1958–2022)". Artforum. February 28, 2022.
  3. ^ Zedd, Nick (1992). Cohen, Ira (ed.). Bleed: Part One. Hanuman Books. ISBN 978-0937815465.
  4. ^ Zedd, Nick (March 1, 1997). Totem of the Depraved. Two Thirteen Sixty One Publications. ISBN 978-1880985359.
  5. ^ Zedd, Nick (January 1, 1996). From Entropy to Ecstasy. ASIN B001D4XRGQ.
  6. ^ Stosuy, Brandon; Cooper, Dennis; Myles, Eileen, eds. (October 15, 2006). Up Is Up, But So Is Down: Documenting New York's Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992. New York University Press. ISBN 978-0814740118.
  7. ^ Patterson, Clayton (May 3, 2005). Captured: A Film/Video History of the Lower East Side. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 9781583226742.
  8. ^ Hollander, Kurt (September 20, 1994). Low Rent: A Decade of Prose and Photographs from the Portable Lower East Side. Grove Press. ISBN 978-0802134080.
  9. ^ a b "Films of Nick Zedd". The New Museum. July 19, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  10. ^ "Nick Zedd | WOG | October 1 - 30, 2010". ADA Gallery. Archived from the original on March 25, 2012.
  11. ^ "11-05-10 / PENDV GALLERY featuring the art of NICK ZEDD". Pendv Org Arts & Actions. November 9, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  12. ^ "Nick Zedd | Eye Transgress | January 8 – February 7, 2011 | Opening January 8, 7-10pm". Microscope Gallery. Archived from the original on May 2, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  13. ^ "in attendance of Nick Zedd". Directors Lounge. January 19, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  14. ^ "YOU KILLED ME FIRST | 19. 2.– 8. 4. 12". KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014.
  15. ^ "El zine invisible | Nick Zedd". Museo Universitario Del Chopo (in Spanish). Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  16. ^ Herman, Jan (June 2, 2013). "For Nonconforming Artists, the Envelope Please". Arts Journal. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  17. ^ "Short Films by Nick Zedd and Christoph Schlingensief". Museum of Modern Art. May 26, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  18. ^ "NICK ZEDD (1958–2022)". Artforum. February 28, 2022. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  19. ^ Anderson, Lincoln (March 22, 2022). "Nick Zedd, East Village transgressive filmmaker, dies at 63". The Village Sun.
  20. ^ "New York Film and Video: No Wave–Transgressive". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  21. ^ Davis, Avi (July 1, 2014). "Why Cinema of Transgression Director Nick Zedd Stayed Underground". Vice. Retrieved August 26, 2020.

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