Film-maker, artist and poet Jonas Mekas (b.1922, Lithuania) is a leading figure in modern avant-garde and independent cinema. The Serpentine Gallery
presents an exhibition of the artists film, video and photographic works from throughout his remarkable and prolific sixty-year career. Coinciding with the Serpentine exhibition, BFI Southbank, London, and Centre Pompidou, Paris, are presenting a season of film and video work celebrating Mekass contribution to cinema.
This exhibition surveys Mekass work with moving images, poetry and sound, presenting a selection of film and video dating from the 1950s through to the present day. The show includes the world premiere of Mekass new feature-length film, presented as an immersive installation. Stills, film portraits of friends and family and ephemera also punctuate the Serpentines spaces, offering a fascinating insight into Mekass life and work.
On his arrival in New York in 1949, Mekas bought his first Bolex camera and began to record brief moments of the world around him. He quickly became a central figure in the burgeoning arts community, alongside friends and collaborators such as Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg and film-makers Kenneth Anger and Maya Deren. A tireless champion of the new independent and avant-garde film movements, he wrote the Movie Journal column in Village Voice, set up and edited Film Culture magazine with this brother Adolfas, and founded the Film-Makers Cooperative and Anthology Film Archives, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2011. Hero to successive generations of film-makers, from Martin Scorcese and Jim Jarmusch, for whom he is his leader and mentor to Mike Figgis and Harmony Korine who cites him as a true hero of the underground, Mekas continues to exert a powerful influence on the film world and beyond.
Mekas brings a poets sensibility to the diary film style that permeates his work. His vision is unique in its ability to capture personal moments of beauty, celebration and joy. Developing his diaristic film style in the 1960s, he has become best known for his film diaries in which he records, with great sensitivity, his day-to-day activities as well as those of his peers from the film and arts community in New York.
Mekass films and archive material have been exhibited extensively throughout the world, including at Documenta 11; the Venice Biennale 2005; the Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMA PS1, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Baltic Art Center, Sweden; and the Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo.