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My life on film


Publishing my dreams
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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I had a sound piece, 75-minute long sound piece, you know, sound with 55 pieces or so from like 50 years of my tapes, audio tapes. I have thousands of them, I have been always collecting audio same way as I collect footage and I selected like from 15 seconds to two minutes long segments and its like as in my diary symphony of sounds which again was very well received. It was also on radio, they played it. Then the second piece is... in 1979 and 1980 for 10 months I kept a record of my dreams, which is not very easy, but one can get into that habit and begin to remember as you begin to work with it every day. You begin to remem... work out a method of remembering dreams. So I was planning, I wrote them down and I was planning to publish the book, but that never happened, so I gave it to one of my artists friends August Varagikalis, who happens to be Lithuanian, but he's, I think he's very, very good. He made parallel drawings to go... not illustrations, but set of drawings that go parallel and go together. It's like two notes, you know, get all very separate, but when you play them together, you know, then something else happens. So this and that to, so... when they offered me a show, at Museum of Modern Art in the city of Paris, I thought, ah - I will exhibit my dreams. And they will be also for sale! So August prepared them on panels, when I typed with a typewriter and he may have put the combination of his drawings and I... that is was my, exhibition of my dreams. The audience were so, the viewer passes by was also... they were also invited to write down their latest dream, and there was a box, which I think I will publish later of those dreams that people left. It's closing this weekend as we are talking here, and its last weekend of September it went for the whole summer. So, those are two elements, and then  they published an artist's book which contains a collection, again... usually when we say artist's book what is when, means is that the artists are invited to do something and then the book is published of drawings or whatever, photos memories usually you know their childhood photographs etc, so since I don't consider myself an artist, I took the apostrophe out and I just made it into plural artists and I collected some maybe 70 or so postcards and memorabilia from last 30, 40 years and, mostly by my friends artists... artists, filmmakers, and that is the, the third element.

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: Museum of Modern Art, Paris, August Varkalis

Duration: 4 minutes, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008