Jonas Mekas’s first ‘diary film’ is projected in the Starr Cinema as part of the Uniqlo Tate Late evening centred on Wolfgang Tillmans. Compiled from material shot on 16mm film between 1964 and 1968, Diaries, Notes & Sketches a.k.a. Walden 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.
Tate Film Display
Jonas Mekas: Diaries, Notes & Sketches a.k.a. Walden 1964–9, 16mm transferred to digital, colour, sound, 180 min
T12420, purchased for the Tate Collection 2007
Visitors are free to enter the cinema at any point during the screening.
About Jonas Mekas
Jonas Mekas (b. 1922, Lithuania) is a filmmaker, poet, critic and artist, as well as one of the most influential figures of American avant-garde cinema. In 1944, he and his brother Adolfas were taken by the Nazis to a forced labor camp in Elmshorn, Germany. After the war he studied philosophy at the University of Mainz. At the end of 1949, the UN Refugee Organization brought both brothers to New York City, where Mekas settled. Two months after his arrival in New York, he borrowed money to buy his first Bolex camera and began to record brief moments of his life. In 1954, together with his brother, he started Film Culture magazine, and in 1958 Mekas began writing his legendary ‘Movie Journal’ column in the Village Voice. In 1962 he founded the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, and in 1964 the Film-Makers’ Cinematheque, which eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives. Mekas has published more than twenty books of prose and poetry, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. He has also been active as an academic, teaching at the New School for Social Research, the International Center for Photography, Cooper Union, New York University and MIT. Since 2000, Mekas has expanded his work into the area of film installations, exhibiting at the Serpentine Gallery, the Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), PS1 Contemporary Art Center MoMA, Documenta of Kassel, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Venice Biennale.