Scheduled Exhibition

The 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Jonas Mekas
JONAS MEKAS + NAM JUNE PAIK : TO ALL MY DEAR FRIENDS
The 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Jonas Mekas [JONAS MEKAS + NAM JUNE PAIK : TO ALL MY DEAR FRIENDS]
  • ·Period

    2022.11.29 ~ 2023.02.28

  • ·Venue

    Gwangju Museum of Art 1, 2 Gallery

  • ·Admission Fee

    FREE

  • ·Sponsorship

    Gwangju Museum of Art

Number of Works

115

Design

Gwangju Museum of Art is pleased to present To All My Dear Friends , an exhibition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Jonas Mekas’ birth. The exhibition focuses on Jonas Mekas’ important films that have been created throughout his life as Mekas was a master of American avant-garde cinema and established a new horizon in the history of experimental film through the format of ‘diary film.’ The exhibition begins with the idea that the stories that many of his films present are indeed his letters with wishful greetings he wanted to deliver to his friends.


The exhibition also illuminates his friendship with Nam June Paik, whom he worked with for some time as an immigrant and exile in New York. Nam June Paik’s Sistine Chapel where images of Fluxus artists at the same time working with Jonas Mekas are projected is on display.

Contents

Jonas Mekas was a Lithuanian-born poet, film critic, magazine publisher, film programmer, and artistic director. He co-founded Film Culture, the first journal of American film criticism. At the same time, he was also a film critic for Village Voice. With twenty-two filmmakers and artists, including Andy Warhol and Shirley Clarke, Mekas also established the New American Cinema Group. He was an activist who rejected the conventional methods of cinema and visual art and supported new experimental films.

Mekas’ films are characterized by the new format of diary film through which he constantly recorded and edited short image fragments in single frames. Even in the chaotic post-war era of the 1960s, his films were accompanied by humor, poetry, singing, and dancing, attentively presenting the daily lives of himself and his friends. Even at the moment when the 16mm Bolex camera was being replaced by camcorders, he did not stop making records of his everyday life. For him, his diary films were the essence of cinema and his conviction. They represented his time with cinema throughout his life.

This exhibition introduces many of Mekas’ key films, including Destruction Quartet, Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol, Zefiro Torna or Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas, Travel Songs and Walden. In addition, the current exhibition highlights the many records of Mekas’ friendship with his beloved artist colleagues. The exhibition also illuminates his friendship with Nam June Paik, whom he worked with for some time as an immigrant and exile in New York. Nam June Paik’s Sistine Chapel where images of Fluxus artists at the same time working with Jonas Mekas are projected is on display.


  • Destruction Quartet
    • Title

      Destruction Quartet

    • Name

      JONAS MEKAS

    • Date

      2006

    • Scale

      6min

    • Material

      4-channel video installation, analog, color, sound

    • Description of work

      The Destruction Quartet was originally presented in the Lithuanian Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005. It features four films, each presented on a separate monitor, which bring together fragments of symbolic and real acts of destruction. Each film, of varying duration, is played on a continuous loop. The first documents a 1997 Nam June Paik performance in which he destroys a piano, the second observes the demolition of the Berlin Wall in 1990, the third is Mekas’ footage of Danius Kesminas’ fire sculpture, (New York) Consequence, presented in New York by agnès b in 1991, and the last graphically records the September 11 destruction of the World Trade Center. Mekas filmed 9/11 from the roof of his SoHo apartment building.

  • Farewell to Soho Quartet
    • Title

      Farewell to Soho Quartet

    • Name

      Jonas Mekas

    • Date

      1967~2004

    • Scale

      variable duration

    • Material

      4-channel video, 16mm, color, sound

    • Description of work

      Farewell to Soho consists of a quartet of videos which is my declaration of love to SoHo and also my Farewell to it. In 1967 I was the founding member of the first Soho co-operative building created by George Maciunas, the father of SoHo, on 80 Wooster Street. These four videos – they can be viewed individually or as an installation on four monitors – give glimpses of how SoHo looked in its early years and how it changed; how through the years it changed from the artists’ utopia into a business utopia. At the same time this video quartet is my elegy to Soho – its lofts, its streets, people, and to George himself who created this dream that radically transformed downtown New York, that lasted for a while, and then it was gone, I mean, it became just another part of the city called New York.

  • Farewell to Soho Quartet
    • Title

      Farewell to Soho Quartet

    • Name

      Jonas Mekas

    • Date

      1967~2004

    • Scale

      variable duration

    • Material

      4-channel video, 16mm, color, sound

    • Description of work

      Farewell to Soho consists of a quartet of videos which is my declaration of love to SoHo and also my Farewell to it. In 1967 I was the founding member of the first Soho co-operative building created by George Maciunas, the father of SoHo, on 80 Wooster Street. These four videos – they can be viewed individually or as an installation on four monitors – give glimpses of how SoHo looked in its early years and how it changed; how through the years it changed from the artists’ utopia into a business utopia. At the same time this video quartet is my elegy to Soho – its lofts, its streets, people, and to George himself who created this dream that radically transformed downtown New York, that lasted for a while, and then it was gone, I mean, it became just another part of the city called New York.

  • Zefiro Torna or Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas
    • Title

      Zefiro Torna or Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas

    • Name

      Jonas Mekas

    • Date

      1992

    • Scale

      34min

    • Material

      1992, 16mm, color, sound

    • Description of work

      Footage of George Maciunas taken between 1952 and 1978. George Maciounas was the founding member of Fluxus movement, a close friend of Jonas Mekas and exiled Lithuanian artist. Jonas. The film includes footage of his parents, footage of many Fluxus events and scenes from Maciunas’ private life and friends. Such as Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Andy Warhol, Joe Jones, Almus Salcius, and many others. Soundtrack: A madrigal by Monteverdi (Zefiro Torna); Jonas Mekas reading from the diaries kept during the last year of Maciunas’ life. The footage does not depicts Maciounas' illness or pain, even in the moment he suffered from his last year's illness. Makiounas on the hospital bed is always smiling in his footage.

  • Award Presentation to Andy Warhol
    • Title

      Award Presentation to Andy Warhol

    • Name

      Jonas Mekas

    • Date

      1964

    • Scale

      12min

    • Material

      16mm, b&w, sound

    • Description of work

      In 1964 Film Culture magazine chose Andy Warhol for its annual Independent Film award. The plan was to show some of Andy s films and have Andy come on stage and hand him the award. Andy said, no, he doesn’t want a public presentation. So I decide to hand the award at the Factory, film the occasion, and show the film at the Award Presentation show at the New Yorker Theater. Andy thought it was a good idea. He got some of the superstars together, for the occasion. As a tribute to Andy, I slowed down the film in printing and added Supremes music which was the daily background at the factory during those days. _ Jonas Mekas

  • Travel Songs
    • Title

      Travel Songs

    • Name

      Jonas Mekas

    • Date

      1967~2003

    • Scale

      variable each

    • Material

      4-channel video, digital, color, silent, duration

    • Description of work

      Five different ‘songs’ or segments: footage from Avila, Stockholm, Moscow, Assisi, Italy. Brief images, a lot of single frame activity. The Song of Assisi, 1967, 2 min & The Song of Avila, 1967, 4 min The Song of Moscow, 1971, 3 min The Song of Stockholm, 1980, 4 min The Song of Italy, 1967, 15 min

  • Travel Songs
    • Title

      Travel Songs

    • Name

      Jonas Mekas

    • Date

      1967~2003

    • Scale

      variable each

    • Material

      4-channel video, digital, color, silent, duration

    • Description of work

      Five different ‘songs’ or segments: footage from Avila, Stockholm, Moscow, Assisi, Italy. Brief images, a lot of single frame activity. The Song of Assisi, 1967, 2 min & The Song of Avila, 1967, 4 min The Song of Moscow, 1971, 3 min The Song of Stockholm, 1980, 4 min The Song of Italy, 1967, 15 min

  • Walden
    • Title

      Walden

    • Name

      Jonas Mekas

    • Date

      1968~69

    • Scale

      180min

    • Material

      3-channel video, 16mm, sound

    • Description of work

      Walden was Mekas’ first diary film, and it was edited as a collection of images gathered between 1964 and 1969. This film is organised into six reels, it plays in chronological order along the seasons of the year. In the first two reels, it shows Mekas' friends, trips and activities on the Film makers cooperative and cinematheque he founded during his New York life.The next two reels of the film includes scenes of winter. It starts with protest scene "Women for peace".In the final two reels of the film, Mekas includes more footage about underground filmmaking with his brother Adolfas Mekas in the spring and autumn.

  • Sistine Chapel
    • Title

      Sistine Chapel

    • Name

      Nam June Paik

    • Date

      1993

    • Scale

      variable size

    • Material

      video installation, 4-channel video, color, sound

    • Description of work

      Sistine Chapel is immersive 4-channel video installation work from Nam June Paik. Inspired by the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, the essence of Renaissance art, Sistine Chapel is the piece that won Nam June Paik the Gold Lion Award when he exhibited at the German pavilion of the 1993 Venice Biennale. The primary video channel shows fragments of Nam June Paik’s collaborative works with his contemporaries. Nam June Paik and Fluxus shared an understanding of the era in which images were increasingly used in everyday life. He was greatly influenced by composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage and a founder of Fluxus movement and lithuanian artist George Maciunas. Sistine Chapel shows the essence of Paik’s experimentalism and the influence of other artists in his creative method. With this Sistine Chapel work, we can survey the records of their activities of american avant-garde and fluxus movement and where Jonas Mekas and Nam June Paik were active in the 1960s.