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Seeing films by Brakhage for the first time


I find a kindred spirit in Marie Menken
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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Marie Menken, they were sort of a bit invisible, though they were very visible during any event, any screening, until '60. I knew them already in, you know, '54, '55, but the first show, one-woman show, Marie Menken, I gave her at the Charles Theatre in '61 or early '62 and that was quite, to me personally, again very revolutionary. I had not yet known that she had been working in single, you know, in the single frame activity. I was already sort of interested and working, but, and that is where this thing called influence comes in. You see influences is not that somebody influences you and you begin to imitate, but you are doing something and then you see that somebody else is doing something very similar and there is this community of friendship, this understanding, ah, you see so I'm not so crazy. This is all right, somebody else is trying the same so there is this sort of friendship, this, but it's not an influence, it sort of strengthens you in your own, what you're doing, knowing that somebody else is doing it and it's working. And that is what I got from Marie Menken. This like confirmation that ah, it really works. She is the proof that it really works.

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: Marie Menken

Duration: 2 minutes, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008