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Early filming with my brother


Utopia means different things to different people
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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I've also had, you know, a show in Venice Biennale, I participate... and that's again, you see, Venice Biennale, the part in which I participated was the Utopia Station, and which there was some 20 other artists curated by... [Molly] Nesbit and then, and Hans Ulrich Obrist. So there I had a three monitors. One monitor I myself goes up talking on the subject of Utopia and, of course, I don't believe in Utopia, I took a stand against Utopia, I have lived in some of those Utopia and know what how they, what they are. And then another monitor showed Soho, the artists' Utopia, and what became of that Utopia and became a business Utopia, and then the third monitor is Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Art... which begins several parts, one as Immigrants Utopia, I filmed a lot in the world in 1950, 1951 and then as, an artist Utopia on verge becoming again business Utopia. So that's that.

So, I don't know, I'm not sure why I'm doing that, doing that, but when, when people ask me to like, like when Ulrich asked me to participate on this project I found it challenging and interesting to talk on the topic of Utopia in the context of Venice Biennale, so why not? So I did it. But again something that nobody here is interested in that aspect of my work and it's totally unknown. So, that's why... is developing and growing, that aspect is developing and growing.

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: Venice Biennale, Soho, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Molly Nesbith, Hans Ulrich Obrist

Duration: 2 minutes, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008