July 2018, arsenal cinema

Edit Film Culture!


From 5.-22.7., the Edit Film Culture! festival and exhibition is taking place at silent green Kulturquartier and Arsenal. It incorporates different event formats involving international experts and artists to raise questions about the conditions of film cultures today and their relevance for society. The magazine Film Culture, which was started by Jonas and Adolfas Mekas in New York in 1955, was regarded as a platform for dialogue between filmmakers and their audiences, between theory and practice, between film and art. 79 issues were published through 1996. The magazine contained interviews, historical texts, manifestos, film analyses, artists’ texts, poetry, photographic essays, and reports on the creation of independent structures for film production, distribution, and projection. The film program places a focus on the reciprocal relationships between New York and Berlin. One person heavily involved in these was Arsenal staff member Alf Bold, who died in 1993 from the consequences of AIDS. In the early 70s, he recognized that special action needed to be taken to convey the importance of experimental film and boost its profile. In 1978, Arsenal dedicated a program to the Anthology Film Archives, saying it was “the first film museum exclusively dedicated to film as art”. In one of the cinema’s siderooms, Alf Bold set up a small 16mm projection space, where he presented the “Avantgarde at Arsenal 2” series every Monday. Each program told its own story about cinematic forms, the developments in the medium, and the world itself. In 1982, he headed the Collective for Living Cinema program in New York for one year. There he intensified his connections to the avant-garde and underground scene, while also expanding the Arsenal film collection around this focus. Following his death, he bequeathed an experimental film fund to Arsenal so that this work could be continued. The program includes remakes of his programs as well as additional films from the collection. Most of the selected filmmakers wrote for Film Culture themselves or had their films reviewed there.

We open the series on 8.7. in the presence of Jonas Mekas with REMINISCENCES OF A JOURNEY TO LITHUANIA (1971). In 1971, Jonas and Adolfas Mekas shot a film about a journey into their past. It starts in New York and traces the course of their escape from Lithuania to the USA by way of reunions with various people. The remake series begins with a found footage program curated by Alf Bold that will be presented in an open-air screening at silent green by filmmaker Matthias Müller: “It was Alf Bold who brought the idea of found footage to Germany […] I still recall his passionate, committed way of presenting these artists.” (9.7.) Further remake programs:

18.11.1989: MONGOLOID (Bruce Conner, 1984), which was made for New Wave band Devo’s first single, will be shown together with 1/2 MENSCH by Ishii Sōgo (1985), which is about one of Einstürzenden Neubauten’s Japanese tours. Ishii Sōgo had previously met Blixa Bargeld at Arsenal 2 at the screening of his previous film. (10.7.)

3.7.1978: The program combines films by avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren with Ingemo Engström’s DARK SPRING (1970) about utopias of female love. (12.7.)

28.7.1980: Alf Bold combined Thom Andersen’s EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE, ZOOPRAXOGRAPHER (1975) with the sociological educational film MICROCULTURAL INCIDENTS IN TEN ZOOS (1971). The print was a present from Amos Vogel to Arsenal, who, like Mekas, had fled to New York from the Nazis and founded Cinema 16 there, combining experimental films with political films, newsreels or educational films. (13.7.)

30.10.1978: Picture Films:LICHTSPIEL SCHWARZ WEISS GRAU by László Moholy-Nagy […] attempts to create color values […] in a black and white film. [This leads to] the flicker films by Tony and Beverly Conrad. […] James Benning shows static images in each of which a story could take place.” (A.B.) (14.7.)

13.11.1989:Alf Bold remembered New York underground icon Jack Smith (1932–1989), who had recently died, with FLAMING CREATURES (1963) and films by Ron Rice and Ken Jacobs. 20 years later, the Super-8 films by Jack Smith were able to be digitized by Arsenal with the help of the Alf Bold fund. (16.7.)

11.1.1979:“One program places perhaps the most advanced German, if not European filmmaker Heinz Emigholz alongside American Larry Gottheim, who makes sort of narrative, structuralist films, and Japanese director Nakai, whose film ALCHEMY 1972 received the first prize at the experimental film festival in Knokke.” (A. B.) (17.7.) Further films: Hall of Mirrors: a sort of hall of mirrors, made of film by Bute, Breer, Richter, Burckhard, Sonbert, Anger, and Noll Brinckmann, whose DRESS REHEARSAL UND KAROLA 2 (1981) was shot as a tribute to underground star Kenneth Anger. Alf Bold asked to her to oversee the experimental film fund after his death. (13.7.)

Cantrills Filmnotes was the title of a film magazine produced at the same time in Australia: Arthur and Corinne Cantrill were responsible for the editing and layout themselves and put on regular film screenings. Since 1960, they have shot films that explore the relationship between cinematic form and landscape. (12.7.)

Marie Menken left one of the biggest marks on the New York avant-garde scene alongside Jonas Mekas. Filmmaker Ute Aurand has played a major role in making her work known and presents it here personally. (14.7.)

Experimental Comedy:In A & B in Ontario (1966/84) by Joyce Wieland and Hollis Frampton, the two of them hunt one another with a Bolex. HALLELUJA THE HILLS by Adolfas Mekas (1963) “is a slapstick poem, a gloriously fresh experiment and experience in the cinema of the absurd, the first cubistic comedy” (Time Magazine). (16.7.)

Stan Brakhage:SCENES FROM UNDER CHILDHOOD (1970) left a lasting impression on Alf Bold: “Suddenly I realized that the inaudible and the invisible, which comes from the deepest interior of the world of experience, cannot be depicted via conventional cinematic means.” (17.7.)

Fluxus:The Arsenal collection also contains the anthology of films of the Fluxus movement (18.7.)
Nan Goldin: In 1986, Alf Bold invited Nan Goldin to come to Berlin for the first time with her new film THE BALLAD OF SEXUAL DEPENDENCY. The two of them developed a close relationship and she was with him on his death bed. He can thus also be seen in her generational portrait ILL BE YOUR MIRROR (1995). (20.7.)

All My Life: Alf Bold saw a particularly innovative power in films by women, which can be seen in the large number of films by female filmmakers which he programmed. Alongside films by Lye, Schneeman, Gehr, Keller, Baillie, we are also showing NEAR THE BIG CHAKRA by Ann Severson (1971), one of the most radical feminist films of the era. (20.7.)

Portraits (1): PORTRAIT OF JASON (Shirley Clarke, USA 1967) has attained cult status, a portrait of black, gay, self-declared hustler Jason Holiday. Accompanied by PUCE MOMENT (Kenneth Anger, 1949), the fragment of an uncompleted film project. (22.7.)

Wavelength:For its 46th issue in 1967, Film Culture commended WAVELENGTH by Michael Snow for its special contribution to cinema. We are showing it with films by Bette Gordon and Joyce Wieland (1968). (21.7.)

Portraits (2): The film program celebrates protagonists from the experimental and underground scene in the US and Germany. (22.7.)

Edit Film Culture! is an event by silent green Film Feld Forschung in collaboration with Jonas Mekas, Anthology Film Archives, Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, SAVVY Contemporary, the Harun Farocki Institute, Spector Books, and the Lithuanian Culture Institute. Curated by: Christian Hiller, Daniela Kinateder, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Marc Siegel, Bettina Ellerkamp, and Jörg Heitmann. Funded via the Federal Capital Culture Fund. (stss)