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Bufferin: a love story

British Film Institute
Publication Date
  • Tr Photography
  • Psychology


This book chapter builds on and develops my ongoing research on Andy Warhol, to produce a study of his film Bufferin (1966). The film has never been written about in any detail and is rarely screened, although it is vitally important in Warhol’s oeuvre. Bufferin is both revealing and frustrating for the viewer as Warhol and Gerard Malanga engage in a cinematic 'exchange' that includes a number of censoring 'buffers'. Each of the names mentioned by Malanga as he reads from his 'Secret Diaries' is replaced by the word 'bufferin'. The film also uses 'strobe cutting' as a censoring device. Both the censoring process, and what it conceals, can be studied to gain an understanding of how Warhol interacted emotionally with his close collaborators. I drew on my extensive knowledge of Warhol's relationships to study Bufferin in depth, unveilling for the first time the identity of the 'Bufferins'. With this insight I examined the role that Malanga had on Warhol's filming. This chapter is the first study of Warhol's psychological state during the shooting of a film and sheds new light on his filmmaking process and the complexities of his relationships with others. It demonstrates Warhol as an engaged and active filmmaker, contrary to the impression given by previous scholarship. I utilised primary research from my extensive interviews with Malanga in 2011 and the unique access I had to Malanga's 'Secret Diaries'. This was complemented by secondary research in the Pittsburgh Warhol film archives and the Whitney Museum of American Art, including a special research screening of Bufferin. My text aims to shed new light on Warhol's filmmaking process between 1966 and 1967. Revealing what underlies the censoring process that Warhol and Malanga devised enhances our understanding of the content and context of Bufferin.

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