August 21, 2013

The Cinema is Jonas Mekas

"In his “Anti-100 Years of Cinema” manifesto, Jonas Mekas declared his militant allegiance to independent and experimental film and filmmaking."
Writing in response to art institutions that were dismissive of the significance of underground film making to artistic authenticity, Mekas wrote his sweeping statement as a battle cry to kindred spirits against a cinema industry powered entirely by financial interests and commercial gains. In the final paragraph of the manifesto, he writes, “The real history of cinema is invisible history: history of friends getting together, doing the thing they love.” Although seemingly simple in its expression, this statement in fact holds dynamic significance for how society should understand contemporary art making. By highlighting the role of friendship in the construction of cinematic history, Mekas asserts the importance of interpersonal relations over economic interests for one’s creative spirit, which can only be born from the ecstatic realization of collectively produced social desires.

"Writing in response to art institutions that were dismissive of the significance of underground film.”

Following his bold proclamation, International House will conclude the program The Cinema is Jonas Mekas by bringing the director and his friends to the Ibrahim Theater for two days of talks, screenings, and Q&As. Such an event is particularly fitting considering the director’s emphasis on documenting his life and the lives of his friends. Many of his films act as extended portraits of artists and the time from which they came, cinematic ruins that provide a stunning compendium for reflection and historical archiving.