“Markopoulos/Beavers: Film as Film” presented by Mark Webber- 6 January h 19.15 and h 21.15

1.Lyssaraia84VillageChurch[1]“There is no language. There is no art. There is no knowledge. There is but film as film: the beginning and the eternal moment.” (The Intuition Space, 1973)

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Gregory J. Markopoulos (1928-92) was one of the most original filmmakers to emerge in post-war American cinema. His films, which often translated literary or mythological sources to a contemporary context, are celebrated for the sensuous use of colour and innovations in cinematic form. A contemporary of Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger and Jonas Mekas, Markopoulos was amongst those at the forefront of a generation that liberated cinema by developing new modes of expression. Having made his first 16mm film (Psyche) in 1947, he went on to produce several key works of the avant-garde such as Twice a Man (1963) and The Illiac Passion (1964-67).

At the end of the 1960s, he moved to Europe to pursue a very individual path, withdrawing his films from distribution and making them almost impossible to see. Firmly believing that a filmmaker should be responsible for all aspects of his work, he conceived Temenos, a monographic archive for the presentation, preservation and study of his films that would be located close to his ancestral home in Greece.

Screenings of early works by Markopoulos and his partner Robert Beavers were held at this remote site in the Peloponnese from 1980-86. Inspired by the experience, Markopoulos subsequently re-edited his entire oeuvre into Eniaios, an 80-hour long film to be shown only at this location. He died without seeing a single reel of this extraordinary achievement printed or projected, but this speculative project is now being realised by Robert Beavers and Temenos Archive. Every four years since 2004, an open-air screening event attended by hundreds of international spectators has presented premieres of the on-going preservation of this monumental works.

Markopoulos’ films encompass mythic themes, portraiture and studies of landscape and architecture. By employing complex editing techniques and spontaneous in-camera superimposition, he sought to unlock the mystery and energy contained within the single frame. This rare opportunity to experience the work of a true pioneer of independent filmmaking celebrates the publication of “Film as Film: The Collected Writings of Gregory J. Markopoulos”, and will be introduced by the book’s editor Mark Webber. The book gathers together almost 100 texts dating from 1950 to 1992. In these essays, Markopoulos chronicles the New American Cinema movement, responds to auteurs such as Dreyer, Bresson and Mitzoguchi, and writes in detail on his own filmmaking and the early work of his partner Robert Beavers. The most individualistic and poetic texts are devoted to his aspirations for the medium of film, the role of the spectator and his vision for Temenos. For more details see http://www.thevisiblepress.com

Gregory Markopoulos’ status as a leading figure of avant-garde cinema was affirmed by Twice a Man. This homoerotic adaptation of the myth of Hippolytus, set in 1960s New York, employs a radical editing style that integrates single-frame ‘though-images’ within its larger narrative. Five years later, Markopoulos and his partner Robert Beavers, left the US for Europe to pursue filmmaking in relative isolation. Beavers established a regular practice of filming in order to explore the potential of the 16mm camera. Early Monthly Segments is the result of this experimentation – an exhilarating process of discovery that also documents the daily lives of both filmmakers. By the 1980s, Markopoulos had begun to regard the Greek landscape as the ideal environment in which his work should be viewed. Daniël Singelenberg’s Temenos is a rare document of one of the annual presentations of ‘film as film’ at a remote site in the Arcadian countryside.

The film program at h 19.15, introduced by Mark Webber.

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Gregory J. Markopoulos, Twice a Man, USA, 1963, 16mm, colour, sound, 49 minutes
Twice A Man is a fragmented re-imagining of the Greek myth of Hippolytus, who was killed after rejecting the advances of his stepmother. Markopoulos’ vision transposes the legend to 1960s New York and has its main character abandon his mother for an elder man. Employing sumptuous colour, the film radicalised narrative construction with its mosaic of ‘thought images’ that shift tenses and compress time. One of the touchstones of independent filmmaking, Twice A Man was made in the same remarkable milieu as Scorpio Rising and Flaming Creatures by a filmmaker named ‘the American avant-garde cinema’s supreme erotic poet’ by its key critic P. Adams Sitney.

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Robert Beavers, Early Monthly Segments, USA, 1968-70/2002, 35mm, colour, silent, 33 minutes
“Early Monthly Segments, filmed when Beavers was 18 and 19 years old, now forms the opening to his film cycle, My Hand Outstretched to the Winged Distance and Sightless Measure. It is a highly stylized work of self-portraiture, depicting the filmmaker and his companion Gregory J. Markopoulos. The film functions as a diary, capturing aspects of home life with precise attention to detail, documenting the familiar with great love and transforming objects and ordinary personal effects into a highly charged work of homoeroticism.” (Susan Oxtoby, Toronto International Film Festival).

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Daniël Singelenberg, Temenos, Greece, 1982, 16mm, COL/BW, silent, 12 minutes
Dutch filmmaker and writer Daniël Singelenberg travelled to Greece for the early Temenos screenings. His personal documentary of the 1982 festival of Film as Film in Arcadia shows the preparation of the screening space and the idyllic landscape that surrounds it, and is one of the very few documents of Markopoulos and this unique event.

The film program at h 21.15, introduced by Mark Webber.

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Gregory J. Markopoulos, The Illiac Passion, 1964-67, USA, 16mm, colour, sound, 91 minutes
Throughout his life, Markopoulos remained closely connected to his heritage and made many works that connected with ancient Greek culture. The Illiac Passion, one of his most highly acclaimed films, is a visionary interpretation of ‘Prometheus Bound’ starring mythical beings from the 1960s underground. The cast includes Jack Smith, Taylor Mead, Beverly Grant, Gregory Battcock and Gerard Malanga, and Andy Warhol appears as Poseidon riding an exercycle, The extraordinary soundtrack of this re-imagining of the classical realm features a fractured reading of Henry Thoreau’s translation of the Aeschylus text and excerpts from Bartók’s Cantata Profana. Writing about this erotic odyssey, Markopoulos asserted that “the players become but the molecules of the nude protagonist, gyrating and struggling, all in love, bound and unbound, from situation to situation in the vast sea of emotion.”

The Illiac Passion: “Metamorphosis of the filmmaker. Passions of the filmmaker. Out of his breast the free flowing blood of the creation of a motion picture which depicts the passions of mankind and of everyman in general. The filmmaker selecting and offering to his actors the inheritance of themselves, transforming them through themselves, their own life’s scenario, onto the motion picture screen. A screen in which everything is both transfixed and changed. Not only the filmmaker undergoes changes, i.e. the creative endeavour, but his actors or non-actors, and everyone who associates himself with the very moments during which the filmmaker is working. In this case the greatest alteration taking place towards the film spectator. The new film spectator of the new cinema.” (Gregory J. Markopoulos, 1967)

Text by Mark Webber.

Extra texts by Daniël Singelenberg about the Film Festivals organized by Markopolous and Beavers in Greece and other topics (only in Dutch):
Extra texts by Daniël Singelenberg about the Film Festivals organized by Markopolous and Beavers in Greece and other topics (only in Dutch):

Krantenartikelen over Markopoulos

Volkskrant, 30-12-1983
NRC Handelsblad, 30-12-1985
Het Parool, 04-01-1985
1.Lyssaraia84VillageChurch[1]
2.LyssaraiaRoadToScreeningField[1]
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4.Temenos84AkiGutlebBeforeScreen[1]
5.Temenos84BeaversSingelenbergMarkopoulos(LeftToRight)[1]
6.Temenos84BeforeScreeningMarkopoulos[1]
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8.Temenos84BuffetBeforeScreening[1]9.Temenos84GraveFatherMarkopoulos[1]10.Temenos84MarkopoulosScreeningField[1]11.Temenos84WineBeforeScreening[1]

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