Nick Zedd  

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"We who have violated the laws, commands and duties of the avant-garde; i.e. to bore, tranquilize and obfuscate through a fluke process dictated by practical convenience stand guilty as charged."--"Cinema of Transgression Manifesto" (1985) by Nick Zedd

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Nick Zedd (1958 – 2022) was an American filmmaker and author. 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.

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 (1995).


Early life

Zedd was born in Baltimore, Maryland on May 8, 1958.


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 Rev. Jen Miller, he was a co-creator of the public access series Electra Elf (2004-08), featuring Miller, Faceboy, Andrew J. Lederer, and a whole "who's who" of New York downtown artists and performers. He served as director of photography on another TV series called Chop Chop (2007), produced by Nate Hill.

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), Troma Films' Terror Firmer (1999), and Thus Spake Zarathustra (2001). He also appeared in the documentaries Llik Your Idols (2007) and Blank City (2010).

Zedd is the author of two autobiographical books, Bleed (1992, Hanuman Books) and Totem of the Depraved (1996, 2.13.61Publications), as well as the self-published novel From Entropy to Ecstasy (1996). Additional writing by Zedd was featured in Up Is Up But So Is Down (NYU Press) as well as in Captured (7 Stories Press) and Low Rent (Grove Press). In the 1980s Zedd published 10 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).

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" single on Rubric Records in 2000.

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 when it was in Bushwick, Brooklyn before he moved to Mexico in March of 2011.

In 2012, he attended a retrospective of his films at the eighth Berlin International Directors Lounge and exhibited work at the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in the same city.

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, along with two more issues as part of the Fanzinoteka exhibition. At a screening at the New Museum in New York City, 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".

In 2014, Zedd exhibited three motion pictures at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as part of a retrospective of films by Christoph Schlingensief, who, prior to his death, had cited Zedd as a major influence on his work. 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 with a borrowed Russian camera for inclusion in a feature-length compilation with contributions from underground filmmakers from many countries. Zedd's movie documents the contents of his apartment and his family in Condesa during an eviction proceeding that resulted in the complete destruction of the building's architectural integrity along with the forced exile of all of the tenants.

Personal life and death

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. He was survived by his partner of 15 years, Monica Casanova, as well as a son and a step-daughter.


  • They Eat Scum (1979)
  • The Bogus Man (1980)
  • Geek Maggot Bingo (1983)
  • 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)

Linking in as of 2022

1989 Toronto International Film Festival, 1996 in film, 60x60, Alan W. Moore, Alt porn, Andres Serrano, Annie Sprinkle, Breuk Iversen, Cinema of Transgression, Clayton Patterson, Collective for Living Cinema, Cult film, CyberPsychos AOD, Dark Forces (2020 film), Death of Michael Stewart, Death rock, Deathtripping, Dennis Nyback, Directors Lounge, Excess Flesh, EXIT (magazine), Faceboy, Forced Exposure, Geek Maggot Bingo, George Petros, Gordon Kurtti, Ground Zero Gallery, Hanuman Books, In Bad Taste, Independent film, Jack Sargeant (writer), Jen Miller, Joe's Apartment, John Zacherle, Kim's Video and Music, Lausanne Underground Film and Music Festival, Lisa Crystal Carver, List of directors associated with art film, List of punk filmmakers, Lloyd Floyd, Lung Leg, Lydia Lunch, Madge Weinstein, Manuel DeLanda, Marguerite Van Cook, Microscope Gallery, Mondo Film & Video Guide, New York Film Festival Downtown, No wave cinema, No wave, Richard Hell, Richard Kern, Scumbag (film), Sensitive Skin (magazine), Suckdog, Takoma Park, Maryland, Taylor Mead, Tessa Hughes-Freeland, The Allston Mall, Timeline of art, Toby Mott, Transgressive art, Underground film, What About Me (film)

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