This exhibition focuses on Jonas Mekas’ 365 Day Project, a succession of films and videos in calendar form. Every day as of January 1st, 2007 and for an entire year, as indicated in the title, a large public (the artist's friends, as well as unknowns) were invited to view a diary of short films of various lengths (from one to twenty minutes) on the Internet. A movie was posted each day, adding to the previously posted pieces, resulting altogether approximately thirty-eight hours of moving images.
At 2B Gallery, the 12-screen-installation will follow the linearity of the film material. Displayed on the walls, each monitor corresponds to a moment in Mekas’ life, while the screens together, construct an overall chronicle of the life of the artist. It is the spectators’ gaze which reconstructs the logic of the artists’ memory, the logic of time (chronology), and the (his)story of Jonas Mekas.
We complete the installation with the projection of First 40 (2006) and Sleepless Nights Stories (2011) in the dark room of the gallery.
Parallel to the exhibition, we organized a sound performance with Jonas Mekas & the Positive Noise Orchestra (Ivan Buharov, Vasile Croat, Royal Ferenc Kovács, Áron Porteleki, Ahad Zsolt Sőrés) June 11 and film projections of Letter from Greenpoint (June 18) and of Scenes from Allen’s Last Three Days on Earth as a Spirit (June 25).
This project was initiated by Anna Kerekes, a young independent curator (born and grow up in Budapest, currently lives in Montreal). She has a particular interest in the presentation of everyday practices as ‘living art’, and the context of hypermedia, a relatively new situation for the artist.
Who is Jonas Mekas ?
Jonas Mekas was born in 1922 in the farming village of Semeniškiai, Lithuania. He currently lives and works in New York City. In 1944, he and his brother Adolfas were taken by the Nazis to a forced labor camp in Elmshorn, Germany. After the War he studied philosophy at the University of Mainz. At the end of 1949 the UN Refugee Organization brought both brothers to New York City, where they settled down in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Two weeks after his arrival in New York he borrowed money to buy his first Bolex camera and began to record brief moments of his life. He soon got deeply involved in the American Avant-Garde film movement. In 1954, together with his brother, he started Film Culture magazine, which soon became the most important film publication in the US. In 1958 he began his legendary Movie Journal column in the Village Voice. In 1962 he founded the Film-Makers' Cooperative, and in 1964 the Film-Makers' Cinematheque, which eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives, one of the world's largest and most important repositories of avante-garde cinema, and a screening venue.
During all this time he continued writing poetry and making films. To this date he has published more than 20 books of prose and poetry, which have been translated into over 12 languages. His Lithuanian poetry is now part of Lithuanian classic literature and his films can be found in leading museums around the world. He is largely credited for developing the diaristic forms of cinema. Mekas has also been active as an academic, teaching at the New School for Social Research, the International Center for Photography, Cooper Union, New York University, and MIT.
Mekas' film The Brig was awarded the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1963. Other films include Walden (1969), Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1972), Lost Lost Lost (1975), Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol (1990), Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas (1992), and As I was Moving Ahead I saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000). More recently, in 2007, he completed a series of 365 short films released on the internet, one film every day.
Since 2000, Mekas has expanded his work into the area of film installations, exhibiting at the Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), PS1 Contemporary Art Center MoMA, Documenta of Kassel, the Museum Ludwig in Coulogne, and the Venice Biennale. In 2007, the Jonas Mekas Center for the Visual Arts opened in Vilnius, Lithuania.