Jonas Mekas

Jonas Mekas

Lithuanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

May 21, 2005

Jonas Mekas
Celebration of the Small and Personal in the Time of Bigness

12 June - 6 November 2005
Opening: 9 June 2005, 3 pm

Ludoteca
Santa Maria Ausiliatrice
Castello 450
30122 Venezia

Liutauras Psibilskis, commissioner
Lolita Jablonskiene, co-commissioner

Funded by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture and the Lithuanian Fund for Culture and Sports. Organised by the Lithuanian Art Museum. With support of Maya Stendhal Gallery, New York

Filmmaker, writer, critic and curator Jonas Mekas, a driving force behind American independent cinema and the founder and artistic director of Anthology Film Archives, will represent Lithuania at this years Venice Biennale.

Jonas Mekass work will be presented in an extensive exhibition consisting of video installations, screenings of his films and of his collaborations with other filmmakers. The exhibition will take us through the development of Mekass work, which is already part of the history of independent filmmaking, and will also showcase his most recent projects, including the premiere of Home Videos (19872005). The book Conversations, Letters, Notes, Msc. Pieces etc, which focuses on interviews and conversations with Jonas Mekas throughout the years, will be presented. It contains rare and earlier unpublished material and is edited by Jonas Mekas and Liutauras Psibilskis. The book includes texts by Jonas Mekas, P. Adams Sitney, Genevieve Yue, interviews and documentation of public appearances by Jonas Mekas from over four decades.

The exhibition and the book will reflect Jonas Mekass philosophy, with particular focus on his ideas of subjectivity. The image of his home country Lithuania, closely linked with his experiences of childhood and early youth, is a strong presence in his work. Jonas Mekas writes about his idea behind Celebrations of Small and Personal in the Times of Bigness: In this exhibition, as in my work in general, I am concerned with the discovery and celebration of small, insignificant, personal moments of our life, my life, life of my family, my close friends; joys, celebrations, being together, small daily events, feelings, emotions, friendships.

This year the Lithuanian Pavilion is strategically located in the Ludoteca (playroom in Italian) at the end of Via Garibaldi. There will be two spaces for video installations and two for non-stop film screenings.

The screenings of Jonas Mekass films will consist of 6 programmes, including the celebrated earlier films Diaries, Notes & Sketches a.k.a. Walden, Lost, Lost, Lost, He Stands in a Desert Counting the Seconds of his Life, Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania, As I Was Moving Ahead I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty, Biographical Quartet and the recent film A Letter From Greenpoint.
Home Videos (19872005), a new eight monitor video installation shows images of Jonas Mekass family and friends. In no particular order the monitors roll personal material shot after he switched from Bolex to using a video camera. Visitors will be invited to move from one monitor to another and make their own movie.

The other installation, a first version of which was presented at Maya Stendhal Gallery, New York in February 2005, includes: Travels (five short travelogues from Italy, Russia, and Sweden, 7 min, 1970), Happy Birthday to John (a homage to John Lennon, 24 min, 1996), Cassis (condensing an idyllic three hour sunset into four minutes of film, 4 min, 1966), Notes on the Circus (12 min, 1966), Film For Maya: Father and Daughter (4.5 min, 2005) and the double-film Elvis (incorporating footage from Elvis Presleys last concert, 1 min, 2001) and Wien & Mozart (1 min, 2001).

The exhibition in the Lithuanian Pavilion will show important new developments in Jonas Mekass work together with older pieces that are already classics of independent filmmaking.

In the spring of 2006 this exhibition will also be presented at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius.

For more information please contact the Lithuanian Art Museum, Boksto 5, LT-01126, Vilnius, Lithuania; tel 370 5 2122997; fax 370 5 2122888 and the commissioners: liutauras@thing.net; lolita@ldm.lt

Jonas Mekas was born in Semeniskiai, Lithuania, in 1922. He lives and works in New York. After being imprisoned by the Nazis in a forced-labour camp and a period in Belgian Displaced Person camps, Mekas studied philosophy at the University of Mainz 19461948. He then emigrated with his brother Adolfas to the United States, settling in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Mekas discovered avant-garde film at venues such as Amos Vogels Cinema 16, and began to screen his own films in 1953. In 1954 he became Editor-in-Chief of Film Culture magazine, and in 1958 he began his groundbreaking Movie Journal column in The Village Voice. In 1962 Mekas founded the Film-Makers Cooperative (FMC) and in 1964 the Filmmakers Cinematheque. The latter eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives, one of the worlds largest repositories of avant-garde film, which Mekas continues to direct.

Mekass film output includes narrative (Guns of the Trees, 1961), documentary (The Brig, 1963) and diaries (Walden, 1969; Lost, Lost, Lost, 1975; Reminiscences of a Voyage to Lithuania, 1972; Zefiro Torna, 1992, and As I Was Moving Ahead, Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty, 2001).

In addition to his prolific output in film, Jonas Mekas has published 24 volumes of poetry, essays, interviews, and diaries, and has been the subject of 12 book-length studies. His films have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, including Jeu de Paume in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo, Documenta 11, the Venice Biennale, and many others.

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Lithuanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
May 21, 2005

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