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Andy Warhol's joke


Stan Brakhage
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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I met Stan Brakhage, I have to check somewhere the records. I met Stan Brakhage, I think, in '55, that was '55, at the Living Theatre during his first presentation, first screening of his, I think, five first films. The Living Theatre was a very experimental avant-garde theatre and that... in the... those days and it was on Broadway and 100th Street. They had just finished running Strindberg's Dreams, I remember, so the screening was organised by Marie Menkin, Hans Richter and Willard Mass. So I met him there and I was... I was very, very, very much taken with what I saw. I thought here is the new cinema, here is the avant-garde of today, here is what I'm interested in. He... there was so much energy, it was so different from everything that I had seen. Of course, then we met, you know, many times, we... we remained... we had some arguments during some periods of our lives, but we remained friends to the very end, but Stan always needed some enemies, some... he had to have some, like... somebody to argue with. So he... and later he changed, he agreed, you know, for the opposite party, you know, like, one example would be when he decided that Michael Snow is really practically an enemy of the avant-garde film as every film-maker who is working in the sort of structural or form of cinema, structural cinema.

There's sort of defined my P Adams Sitney and film, you know, the issues of film culture, that that kind of cinema is... really is destroying the avant-garde film and he had some very... we had some very, almost wild, confrontations and he denounced Michael Snow and did not talk to Michael Snow until, like, 10 years... for about 10 years when decided again, looked at the film at The Central Region at Wavelength and decided that he was wrong. So he, you know, he... again they were friends. So he... he needed that type of... he always needed something to oppose... that kept him going and helped him sort of to concentrate on... on what he was himself all about. But, I mean, he, of course... he's a figure that has changed drastically the American avant-garde. With him I consider begins the post Maya Deren, the new... the new American avant-garde same as with abstract expressionists or action painters start, we have the new painting.

Jonas Mekas (1922-2019), Lithuanian-born poet, philosopher and film-maker, set up film collectives, the Anthology Film Archive, published filmzines and made hundreds of films, all contributing to his title as 'the godfather of American avant-garde cinema'. He emigrated to America after escaping from a forced labour camp in Germany in 1945.

Listeners: Amy Taubin

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor for "Film Comment" magazine and "Sight and Sound" magazine. Her book, "Taxi Driver", was published in 2000 in the British Film Institute's Film Classics series. Her chapter on "America: The Modern Era" is part of "The Critics Choice" published by Billboard Press, 2001, and her critical essays are included in many anthologies, mostly recently in "Frank Films: The Film and Video Work of Robert Frank" published by Scalo.

She wrote for "The Village Voice" weekly from 1987 into 2001 both as a film and a television critic. She also wrote a column for the "Village Voice" titled "Art and Industry" which covered American independent filmmaking. Her first weekly film criticism job was at the "SoHo Weekly News". Her writing has also appeared in "Art Forum", the "New York Times", the "New York Daily News", the "LA Weekly", "Millennium Film Journal", "US Harpers Bazaar" and many other magazines. She is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Online.

She started her professional life as an actress, appearing most notably on Broadway in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", and in avant-garde films, among them Michael Snow's "Wavelength", Andy Warhol's "Couch", and Jonas Mekas' "Diaries, Notebooks and Sketches".

Her own avant-garde film, "In the Bag" (1981) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Friends of Young Cinema Archives in Berlin.

She was the video and film curator of "The Kitchen" from 1983-1987.

She has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from N.Y.U. in cinema studies. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in both the undergraduate and the MFA graduate programs, and lectures frequently at museums, media centers, and academic institutions. In 2003, she received the School of Visual Arts' art historian teaching award.

Tags: Dreams, The Central Region at Wavelength, Stan Brakhage, Marie Menkin, Hans Richter, Willard Mass, P Adams Sitney, Maya Deren

Duration: 3 minutes, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010