All these images, these sounds… These are the opening words of the first personal exhibition of Jonas Mekas (Biržai, 1922) at APALAZZOGALLERY.
These words of the Lithuanian poet and movie-maker prepare us for the waterfall of frames that fill the nineteenth-century halls of the gallery. Those words refer to all the images and sounds gathered by Jonas Mekas, after the invitation of the curatorial duo Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, for The Internet Saga Project presented at the Biennale di Venezia 2015. So, this new exhibition is both its translation and a poetic development.
All the pieces exposed this year in Venice, come to a new life in Brescia, where the gallery is based. A new life that can be seen in ‘In an Instant it All Can Back to Me’, 768 original slides, 768 frames from the films realized between the ‘60s and the ‘90s, that for the first time in the artist’s career are impressed on 32 monumental glass plates. There are also the three original editings of the ‘Online Diary’, a videodiary updated by the artist almost on a daily basis since 2006. An then, To Petrarca an audio piece composed of 51 tracks that record the life of the artist between little moments of daily joy to important historical moments. And also Birth of a Nation a film that, on four monitors, distributes 160 portraits of the authors who made the history of experimental cinema - from Peter Kubelka to Michael Snow – accompanied by a photographic series of 40 elements never shown in Italy. Describing who is Jonas Mekas is not easy. Founding father of New American Cinema, the Film-Makers Cooperative and Anthology Film Archives – maybe the biggest archive in the world dedicated to audiovisual experimentation - is a key figure not only in the history of cinema, but also of art and literature. His story has its beginnings in a small village in Lithuania and then a temporal and geographical range so wide that it touches upon the Fluxus movement, the Beat Generation, Andy Warhol’s Factory until finally anticipating and foreseeing the post-Internet age.
After being sent to a labour camp in Elmshorn during World War II, Mekas arrived in New York in 1949. There he became the connector of a community of artists which, to name a few of the encounters that Mekas’ camera records in its incessant activity, included: George Maciunas, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Carolee Schneemann, Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, John Cassavetes, Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Velvet Underground. In addition to these great cultural and societal icons, however, routine moments from daily life are filmed and captured with the same intensity: a flower, a street, thunder during rainfall.
As such, Mekas’ visual diaries compose a great tale that celebrates the course of existence between banality and lyricism. Until his arrival on the web in 2006, to take cinema beyond its limits. With all these images and these sounds, the exhibition celebrates Jonas Mekas, jonasmekas.com and the first ten years of the Internet life of a prophetic artist. Ten years that talk about a personal and historical transition from the independence of the cinema avant-gardes to the autonomy of the online fruibility, from the birth of the glorious Nation of the Independent Cinema, to the origins of the Internet people.
‘All these images, these sounds’ talks about many flowerings. A sequence of seasons and episodes that avoid the rigidity of the series and that take us in the neverending show of reality, in rhythm with the pace of life. From the improvised choir at the Serpentine Gallery to the projection of Andy Warhol’s Empire, passing through the Forest of Karlshrue and a Paul Sharits exhibition, a dinner with Agnes Varda in Paris, a lunch with his family, to the first day of the year for the classic speech at the Saint Mark’s Church. And also flowers, animals, snow, lunar eclipses, wind and brief glimpses of beauty.
To keep it altogether there is the existence of the artist and of everything that passes through his lens. An intermittent circle that, from natural cycles to machines, goes through all he shots and ends up in correspondence to reality. The diary becomes cinema, Internet, building, gallery, life. On to a new season.