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Discovering the work of Stan Brakhage


Meeting Maya Deren
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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My first meeting with Maya Deren was like in '53 when I was looking for her book anagram on, an anagram, I know the exact title, an anagram, It's got cinema in it, right. It has got cinema, it has got cinema, and I could not find it anywhere, so I called collected you know, my strength, and I called her and she said, 'I will lend you one, I have one, if you want to read'. So, there I come, I'm walking on Morton Street, walking up and there up, there on the 4th floor somewhere stands Maya Deren. And I walk up and look and look and she's looking at me in a very, very strange way. So, I look at her because it was strange. Then she said,'Forgive me, it's very strange, I'm almost shocked because I thought it was not you, it was Sasha'. And Sasha, she meant Sasha Alexander... Hammond, her husband that, they were not living, they were already divorced. And because, then she said, 'You are exactly where I met Sasha for the first time, you looked the exact same way', that, so, in the end, that's how I met Maya.

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: Maya Deren, Alexander Drummond

Duration: 1 minute, 42 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008