Close Up

3 - 30 December 2022: The New American Cinema and After


The New American Cinema and After

Wien & Mozart
Jonas Mekas, 2001, 1 min
Stan VanDerBeek, 1963, 15 min
Larry Gottheim, 1971, 10 min
The Vision Machine
Peggy Ahwesh, 1997, 20 min
Lori Felker & Robert Todd, 2010, 15 min

“While currents of experimental film in the United States could be traced back to the early decades of the 20th century, a full blossoming of new film artists in the early 1960s arrived under the aegis of a collective called the New American Cinema Group. While this group was a result of the efforts of many, Jonas Mekas was the glue that held together this group of filmmakers, and his further initiatives to support film artists manifested into the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, his weekly column “Movie Journal” in The Village Voice and later the founding of Anthology Film Archives.

[This] programme contextualises Jonas Mekas’s own filmmaking through works by filmmakers who were his peers or who worked as a result of his influence and history. Stan VanDerBeek’s 1963 collage animation BreathDeath emerged from the centre of the Pop Art movement, bringing the characteristic signifiers of consumer culture and current events into a frenzied cacophony of motion. Larry Gottheim’s Harmonica is a conceptual film that foregrounds performance, personality and joy from the backseat of a speeding automobile. The Vision Machine is a layered, alcohol-soaked mash-up of documentary, fiction and theory emerging from Peggy Ahwesh’s past in the feminist punk scene in Pittsburgh. Finally, Lori Felker & Robert Todd’s Imperceptihole is a collaborative film made in correspondence: rolls of 16mm film were sent back and forth in the mail over the course of a year, resulting in a playful, almost Dadaist science non-fiction fairy tale that emerges from the space between borders, edges, planes and alternate worlds. These films are preceded by Mekas’s Wien & Mozart, a beautiful and brief slice of celluloid made as a trailer for the 2001 Vienna International Film Festival.” – Herb Shellenberger

Part of our retrospective celebrating Jonas Mekas' Centennial