Jonas Mekas: Creating Opportunities for Collaboration

Date and time
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jonas Mekas: Creating Opportunities for Collaboration

Sometimes opportunities come to you wrapped up in a lovely bow and Jonas Mekas: In Praise of the Ordinary, curated by Anna Kerekes was one of those opportunities. I met Anna in the études et pratiques des arts doctoral program at UQÀM. Quickly, I remarked her effervescent spirit, and little did I know that we would collaborate on a project just over two years later.

This exhibition is in fact the culmination of a constellation-like collaboration between DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art, the recently founded Phi Centre, the Festival Nouveau Cinéma, the Lithuanian Canadian Foundation, the Montreal Lithuanian Credit Union (LITAS) and the Galerie du jour Agnès B.

What was overwhelmingly clear throughout the process of bringing these institutions together was the excitement that everyone had about Jonas Mekas. When he speaks of his contribution to cinema, he describes himself of being part of continuity as well as a community. 365 Day Project, First 40, and Sleepless Night Stories featured at Phi, are a testament to that continuity, as new works that take up the diffusion capabilities of the internet, that pay homage to the astounding circle of friends he has accumulated over the years and also speak to the beauty that exists in the everyday. The notion of time also takes on intense significance, with the flux of images and sounds emanating from the surrounding series of monitors. What must it be like to see and share an entire year of one’s life in such a way?

The opening of the exhibition was another clear reflection of the impact of Mekas’ work and life. Thanks to the initiatives of Arunas Staskevicius, Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Montreal, there was an incredible turnout of members from Montreal’s Lithuanian community, which made the event all the more meaningful for us all, connecting art with life once again.

My many thanks to Jonas Mekas and Anna Kerekes, to our partners, Nicolas Girard Deltruc, Claude Chamberlain, Élodie Cazes, Arunas Staskevicius and his wife Silvija, as well as to James Prior, Jon Knowles and the commitment of DHC/ART’s staff and technicians for their amazing work. I also want to thank Sebastian Mekas for his lovely presence, ensuring that Jonas would be able to join us in Montreal.  Projects such as these show us that the process can be just as amazing as the final outcome. I leave you with Mekas’ words, a haiku that Anna selected to set the tone of the exhibition.

I let
everything go.
I’ll keep only
love as pure
as the
blue sky

– Jonas Mekas, January 5, 2007

Cheryl Sim
Curator, DHC/ART

Photos: Stacy Lundeen

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