TateShots

Jonas Mekas: Always Beginning

A Lithuanian American filmmaker, poet and artist who has often been called "the godfather of American avant-garde cinema”

In this episode we visit pioneer of avant-garde cinema Jonas Mekas. On moving to New York City in the late 1940s he founded Film Culture magazine with his brother Adolfas which published criticism and analysis of all aspects of experimental and mainstream Hollywood film.

He also co-founded the Film-Makers’ Cooperative which eventually grew into the Anthology Film Archives – the world’s largest and most important repositories of avant-garde film.

Jonas Mekas is best known for his ‘film diaries’ and ongoing series of snapshots of his life filmed throughout his career.

Diaries, Notes & Sketches a.k.a. Walden, in Tate's collection, is compiled from material shot on 16mm film between 1964 and 1968 and stands as one of the most epic portraits of the 60s New York art scene. Over the course three hours, Mekas invites the viewer into a circle of friends and colleagues including John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick, as well as contemporary experimental filmmakers Tony and Beverly Conrad, Michael Snow and Jack Smith. Featuring quick-paced in-camera edits and a collage of recorded sounds, Mekas’s seminal film unfolds as a cinematic poem that effortlessly condenses years into hours.

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