Stendhal Gallery, Chelsea, New York proudly presents From Fluxus to Media Art on view through May 24, 2008. This group exhibition critically explores the 1960’s Fluxus art movement as the foundation of contemporary media art with works by Jonas Mekas, George Maciunas, Andy Warhol, Fluxus, George Brecht, Shigeko Kubota, Nam June Paik, Marcel Duchamp, Hans Richter, Fernand Léger, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dali, Viking Eggeling, and Studio IMC.
Considered an artist, programmer, archivist, fundraiser, theoritician, and proselytizer for moving image work, Jonas Mekas continues to preserve the vast archive of cultural history he has recorded with his camera for nearly six decades on his website www.jonasmekas.com. His grand 365-film project incorporated classic footage shot with a 16mm Bolex with recent footage taken with a digital video camera, releasing a film each day in 2007. A special selection of these films is on view. And to commemorate the exhibition, eight of these films will be available for free download at his website. A steadfast commitment to his signature diarist cinema, this telling compilation reveals relationships with friends and collaborators George Maciunas, Andy Warhol, Nam June Paik, Shigeko Kubota, Ben Vautier, and Yoko Ono as well as momentous scenes from when The Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center opened in Vilnius, Lithuania late last year.
On view for the first time is Mekas’ new 9-monitor video installation Fluxus & Warhol (2008), part of an engaging series of works that reshape his film diaries for a different social space facilitating interaction among viewers. Measuring 40 inches, these monitors represent the latest innovation in Westinghouse digital technologies. Revealed in text presented intermittently between frames is Mekas’ “assessment of the similarities between Maciunas and Warhol… based on his personal empathy for both artists as well as his understanding of their work.”
The exhibition also marks the release of a new collection of 40 film stills entitled Warhol Series #1 by Jonas Mekas. Spanning a remarkable 609 x 80 cm. in its entirety, the collection presents a penetrating look into the life and career of artist Andy Warhol. Produced in edition of 10, these still images capture Warhol during the early days of his Factory with Baby Jane Holzer, vacationing at his estate in Montauk, Long Island with friends Lee Radziwill, and the 1971 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art when he covered the walls with his novelty cow wallpaper.
Lending to these works is Warhol’s groundbreaking experimental film Empire (1964). Mekas also worked the camera during filming in which New York City’s symbolic Empire State Building remains the sole subject for the film’s 8 hour and 5 minute duration. Shot at a speed of twenty-four frames per second, footage is projected at a slower speed of sixteen frames per second lengthening its running time. Observed in its unconventional nature, Empire remains one of experimental film’s most important works.
A focal part of the exhibition brings into light the historical importance of Film Culture no. 45 (1967). On view are hand-written notes, drawings, original photographs, and letters depicting the creation of the notable issue, which reads as a remarkable, enlightening record of the varying impulses happening in art during the time. Maciunas oversaw the design and production, which find inspiration from Warhol’s images of “Superstars” Baby Jane Holzer, Edie Sedgwick, The International Velvet, and others.
Also on view are George Brecht’s Event Scores from the 1960’s, Nam June Paik’s Majestic (1975, reset 1996), a special version of George Maciunas’ Fluxfilm Anthology from 1968, Andy Warhol’s Empire (1964), Shigeko Kubota’s Nam June Paik II (2007), IMC TV (2008) by Studio IMC, and a selection of early classic avant-garde films by Hans Richter (1921), Luis Buñuel (1929), Marcel Duchamp (1926), Fernand Leger (1924), and Viking Eggeling (1925).
Special thanks to The Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center, Vilnius for loan of George Maciunas’ Fluxus archives and materials related to Film Culture no. 45, the Andy Warhol Museum for loan of Empire, and Amy Taubin, Ken Friedman, Julia Robinson, and Robert Haller of Anthology Film Archives for their significant contributions in research and scholarship, and Westinghouse Digital Electronics.
The exhibition was organized by Harry Stendhal, Director and Curator of Stendhal Gallery, New York.