Close Up

27 October 2009: Histories of the Avant-Garde Part I


The Histories of the Avant-Garde is a new series presented by Close-Up and curated by The Dog Movement.

Hart of London by Jack Chambers was a huge inspiration to two of the most influential artists in Experimental film, Stan Brakhage and Nathaniel Dorksy. This screening offers a very rare opportunity to see what Brakhage called 'One of the true great films of cinema' alongside his own important ode to light The Riddle of Lumen and Dorsky's devotional song The Visitation.

Hart of London
Jack Chambers
1970 | 70 min | B/W | 16mm

"The Hart of London is constructed out of a variety of material; newsreel, found footage and film shot by Chambers himself. Visually and thematically it shares much common ground with the work of Stan Brakhage, whose influence, when watching the film, is hard to ignore; Chambers postulates the primacy of light using a number of techniques, and uses his material of a Spanish slaughter house and the birth of a child (amongst other things) to riff on the themes of life and death, all to stunning effect. The maintenance of the film's tension, and its complexity of scope, however, pushes Hart of London way beyond any reductive comparisons. Brakhage called it 'one of the few great films of cinema'." – William Fowler

The Visitation
Nathaniel Dorsky
2002 | 18 min | Colour | 16mm

"The Visitation is a gradual unfolding, an arrival so to speak. I felt the necessity to describe an occurrence, not one specifically of time and place, but one of revelation in one's own psyche. The place of articulation is not so much in the realm of images as information, but in the response of the heart to the poignancy of the cuts." – Nathaniel Dorsky

The Riddle of Lumen
Stan Brakhage
1972 | 14 min | Colour | 16mm

"The classical riddle was meant to be heard, of course. Its answers are contained within its questions, and on the smallest piece of itself this possibility depends upon sound "utterly", like they say… the pun its pivot. Therefore, my Riddle of Lumen depends on qualities of light. All films do of course. But with the Riddle of Lumen, "the hero" of the film is light itself. It is a film I'd long wanted to make – inspired by the sense, and specific formal possibilities, of the classical English riddle… only one appropriate to film and, thus, as distinct from language as I could make it." – Stan Brakhage