October 25, 2016

Hot! Preview Sam Bassett’s Storme at Webster Hall Art Soiree

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  1. Sorry to disagree folks, but regarding Sam Bassett’s “new” documentary, its not so much the film’s message that’s objectionable — its the messenger — and what Bassett conveniently omits from his story are the ways in which he’s very carelessly contributed to Storme Delarverie’s incarceration in a Brooklyn nursing home while he pretends to be an activist for her cause.

    It was Bassett who accompanied Storme to Court for a competency evaluation in 2009, and insisted upon becoming her legal guardian. This, of course, was prior to Bassett’s own eviction from the Hotel Chelsea. Rather than guardianship, Bassett was granted a degree of oversight and the court placed merely two stipulations on Storme which, once accomplished, would result in her stabilized monthly rent being paid by charitable organizations, and a return to normalcy.

    That pair of stipulations were:

    1) She was to clean up her living quarters to some degree and,
    2) She was to receive a basic medical checkup.

    Bassett volunteered — as a matter of record — to assist Storme with these tasks. But whether because he didn’t get the media attention he craves or for some other reason all his own, Bassett essentially abandoned the woman — and the court’s directives along with her. Bassett did precisely nothing to assist Storme in the coming six months while he fought for his own survival as a Hotel Chelsea tenant and moved on to his other “documentary” subjects. Bassett communicated with none of Storme’s neighbors working to assist her on a daily basis, nor those holding Ms. Delarverie’s power of attorney, and he left the court to assume that the relatively simple tasks it appointed to him were being accomplished.

    It was only when Storme fell ill from dehydration in March 2010 that the true impact of what Bassett had done — or rather, what he hadn’t bothered to do — became felt. And then Bassett himself was gone from the Hotel Chelsea, his signature affixed to an overdue rent stipulation and Storme shuffled off to a run-down facility whose only qualification for keeping her, according to her former caseworkers at SAGE, was that they had an open bed.

    So once more Sam Bassett wants to be a champion for Storme’s rights.

    Perhaps more accurately, Bassett is a champion for his half-finished film project, and he’s still searching for an ending. While Storme’s case is one that revolves around legal standing, Bassett shows his colors by soapboxing on behalf of his film instead of using the court-appointed oversight he lobbied for to engage lawyers and force this dispute back into a courtroom where it belongs.

    The truth is that if Sam Bassett had spent half the time helping Storme as he did snapping cameras in her face, she most certainly wouldn’t be where she is now. There are many others who share this perspective — folks who don’t have a stake in promoting themselves or their photography books and films. Only Storme’s well being.