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Filming The Brig


Filming memories
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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Journalists, writers come along to me or Ken Jacobs or somebody and says, okay, now tell us something about the '60s. So, you know, the remark, one of the remarks that I keep repeating was what Ken Jacobs said to one of those journalists,'The '60? Really, there were '60s? I did not know there were '60s'. Because we just lived and did our work. We did not know that all that will be, any of it will become history of any importance. So, I mean, I still, when I film, when I tape, I'm just doing it for myself, not for history. You know, we're talking about history now, you know, when everybody is asking, do you have footage on Nico or do you have this, I regret that I did not film; I just filmed like a minute or so. I filmed more of Warhol or some other people that I spent more time with. But you know... because we did not know that it will be history, it was our lives. No, history does not come into it. What comes in is my own memory of my own... and I would say that the most influential invisible memories that affect everything that I do, comes from my childhood. And I think that is the same, I believe, case with everybody. I think it's the first 10 years that determine what we are, what we do and how we do it, maybe even before 10. And it effects, why I film, that maybe there was a colour that I remember, that suddenly comes and I'm not aware of that, that somewhere or some... something else there, some detail that I film, that you have to be very sort of open and ready. And that's part of it.

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: Nico, Andy Warhol, Ken Jacobs

Duration: 2 minutes, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010