Jonas Mekas: Godfather of Avant Garde “New American Cinema” to Represent Lithuania at the 51st Venice Biennale

Organized by Lithuanian Art Museum, Vilnius With Support of Maya Stendhal Gallery, New York, NY

NEW YORK, NY — (MARKET WIRE) — 05/26/2005 — The visionary work of Jonas Mekas and The New American Cinema has emerged as the guiding cultural force in the new millennium. The artist’s optimism can be seen in his films and videos, projecting faith in the power of the medium as an affirmation of human vitality as well as a vehicle of resistance to oppressive forces of history.

Who: Jonas Mekas

Jonas Mekas will represent his birthplace, Lithuania, in the 2005 Venice Biennale. Having left Lithuania shortly after Nazi occupation, the artist’s sense of exile and loss heavily informs his films. His intimate, diary-like style of filmmaking often looks to his homeland, his family, and the play of these uprooted childhood images in consistently vital contexts: “In this exhibition, as in my work in general, I am concerned with the discovery and celebration of small, insignificant, personal moments of our life, my life, life of my family, my close friends.” Mekas offers up his own personal experience in a unified domestic language that knits singular human identity through passing observation and into the diverse fabric of political and cultural life.
What: “Celebrations of the Small and Personal in the Times of Bigness,”
51st International Venice Biennale

To convey the artist’s expansive career, the exhibition will follow the development of Mekas’ work, already an important part of independent and avant-garde filmmaking history. These celebrated earlier films will include “Diaries, Notes, & Sketches a.k.a. Walden,” “Lost, Lost, Lost,” “He Stands in the Desert Counting the Seconds of his Life,” “Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania,” “As I Was Moving Ahead I saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty.” Among his more recent works, “Home Videos” (1987-2005) and “Letters From Greenpoint” will also be screened. Installed in a separate space, a first version of which was presented at his solo exhibition “Fragments of paradise” at Maya Stendhal Gallery, New York, includes “Travels” (travelogues from Italy, Sweden and Russia, 7 min, 1970), “Happy Birthday to John” (homage to John Lennon, 24 min, 1996), “Cassis” (sunset in southern France, 4 min, 1966), “Notes on the Circus” (12 min, 1966), “Film for Maya: Father and Daughter” (4.5 min, 2005), the double-film “Elvis” (1 min, 2005), and “Wien & Mozart” (1 min, 2001). The book “Conversations, Letters, Notes, Misc. Pieces etc” will accompany the exhibit with rare and earlier unpublished interviews, conversations, public appearances and essays by the artist.
Where: The 51st Venice Biennale, Italy
Lithuanian Pavilion, located in the Ludoteca
Santa Maria Ausiliatrice
Castello 450
30122 Venezia

The Lithuanian Pavilion is located in the Ludoteca venue at the end of the Via Garibaldi in Venice, Italy. There will be two spaces for video installations and two for non-stop film screenings.

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