Enigmatic cinema

This man, who has appeared on many of Jandek’s 35 album covers, may or may not be Jandek.

This man, who has appeared on many of Jandek’s 35 album covers, may or may not be Jandek.

“Jandek is not pretentious, but only pretentious people like Jandek,” Kurt Cobain told a reporter in 1993. For the uninitiated (and don’t feel bad—you have to work pretty hard to encounter his work), Jandek is a musician in Texas. He’s made 35 albums since 1978. He’s never given an interview. He’s never been professionally photographed. He’s never played a live show or made a single public appearance. His albums are released through a label called Corwood Industries, which only makes Jandek records. They’re available solely through the mail, by writing to a Houston P.O. box advertised in the back of music magazines. The ads have plain, black-and-white text and simply say, “Jandek on Corwood.”

That’s it. That’s all anyone knows about Jandek. You have been initiated.

Having read this, most of you will go on about your day thinking nothing of it. However, some of you will become obsessed by Jandek’s secrecy, by the lure of a real American mystery in our midst. Those hardest hit by the obsession end up camping out in the Houston post office, hoping to see Jandek collect his mail. To avoid such extremes, you might pacify your curiosity with a free screening of the new documentary Jandek on Corwood.

Be forewarned: Jandek does not appear in the film. He may not even be aware of it. You will see 24 music critics, DJs and the sort of people Cobain mentioned discussing Jandek’s unique anonymity in this era of image uber alles.

Jandek on Corwood plays once—at midnight on Friday. Tickets are free and can be obtained by e-mailing jandektickets@yahoo.com. The screening is hosted by the Tower Theatre, located at 2508 Land Park Drive. For more information, visit www.jandekoncorwood.com.