Jonas Mekas… up close and far away…

In 2022 we celebrate the centenary of Jonas Mekas, and it is only fair to call this period the age of Mekas. He not just recorded the most important historical events like the life in a displaced persons camp, the origins of avant-garde cinema in post-war New York, Lithuania's path to freedom and the collapse of the Soviet Union, but he also designed a unique point of view. To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, Mekas is the Message. Not a piece of information, but a subjective, personally experienced reality, a peculiar way of telling stories. Mekas spoke in the diary form in verse and by means of cinema camera, and this particular style influenced his fellow filmmakers and other artists. But what was Mekas like behind the camera? How did his colleagues and students see him?

Jonas Mekas was captured in various circumstances on video and photo cameras in the diaries of friends and other curious people. The audiovisual installation „Jonas Mekas, more closely and from further away" consists of different extremely personal fragments of video and photo diaries of Arūnas Kulikauskas, Chihiro Ito, and Saulius Paukštys, where the main character is Mekas, a poet, a filmmaker and an artist of life. Arūnas Kulikauskas recorded Jonas Mekas in 1998 on the roof of his house in New York, reading his then unpublished poetry. The New York-based artist Chihiro Ito visited Mekas in 2018 and interviewed him about his work, life, and FLUXUS. Photographer Saulius Paukštys captured the meeting with Jonas Mekas in one of New York bars in 2007.

In 2017, Jonas Mekas participated in the 14th Documenta exhibition in Kassel, where he was "caught" by the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center. They also documented the performance of Mekas at the Edit Film Culture festival Silent Green in Berlin. An exclusive (and probably the last) video film in which we see and hear Jonas Mekas is his address to the students of the Vilnius Academy of Arts, dated November 30, 2018. On that day, Jonas Mekas was declared an honorary doctorate of the academy. Although Mekas could not travel to Vilnius to receive the honorary doctoral regalia, he addressed the audience online and dedicated his thoughts to the students of the academy. The vivid speech of Jonas Mekas became the important focus of this audiovisual installation.

Curator Gintaras Sodeika

Sponsor: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania
The project partner is Jonas Mekos Visual Arts Center, Vilnius.
Friends of the project: Lithuanian Post, Wallpen.lt


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