Jonas Mekas. Cinema Is Young!

Jonas Mekas, This Side of Paradise (Fragments of an Unfinished Biography), still from 16mm film, 1999


From 15 Aprile 2023 to 23 Luglio 2023


Place: Cineteca Milano - MIC Museo Interattivo del Cinema

Address: Via Fulvio Testi 121

Times: Tue. – Sun., 15:00 – 19:00

Responsibles: Francesco Urbano Ragazzi

Ticket price: Intero: € 9 Ridotto: (Cinetessera*, studenti universitari, under 14) € 7,00 Family: € 5,00 (valido per un nucleo familiare composto da minimo 3 persone tra cui un under 14) Solo i martedì ridotto con Carta Fidaty € 6,00 L’ Abbonamento Musei Lombardia dà diritto all’ingresso gratuito fino alle ore 19.00 (eventi speciali fuori da questi orari non rientrano nella gratuità dell’Abbonamento) *Cinetessera 2023 (valida fino a Dicembre 2023). Modalità di accesso alle proiezioni Rassegna "Cinema is Young

Telefono per informazioni: +39 02.87242114

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Cineteca di Milano is proud to announce the opening of Cinema Is Young!, the exhibition curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi that in Italy concludes Jonas Mekas 100!, the international program of initiatives promoted by the Lithuanian Culture Institute to celebrate the centennial of the birth of Jonas Mekas, filmmaker and founder of the New American Cinema Group.
The show is the culmination of a journey that has crossed the peninsula from Rome to Naples, passing through Bologna, Pesaro and Venice to celebrate one of the most important figures in avant-garde cinema. It is also, in the words of the curators, the final chapter of a trilogy dedicated to the artist: «If the exhibition at the Mattatoio di Roma had a retrospective scope and the one at Le Corbusier's Pavillon de l'Esprit Nouveau in Bologna focused on the symbol of the tree, the project we have conceived for Cineteca di Milano aims to highlight Mekas' place in the history of Western cinema.»
A selection of films, videos, photo series and documents exemplifying the filmmaker's 70- year oeuvre are displayed within the vast collection of the Museo Interattivo del Cinema. Mekas' work is thus presented as a focal point in the trajectory that goes from the origins of cinematography to the digital age.
Mekas' cinema is personal. In the artist's films the camera becomes a diary in which the author records, day after day, the fragments of intensity in his own existence. Each moment is rendered in a montage that escapes linear narrative to get closer to the language of poetry. However, this tireless filming does not have an intimist aim. It is rather an exercise in self-meditation that achieves political significance. Mekas uses his Bolex camera to ground himself in a city where he lives as an exile. In fact, he arrived in New York as a displaced person in 1949, along with his brother Adolfas, after experiencing the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, imprisonment in a Nazi labor camp, and a four-year stay in refugee camps.
Living by filming becomes for Mekas a way of being in the world. The new sense of belonging that the artist finds in cinema drives him not only to make about a hundred films, but also to found some of the institutions that have enabled the circulation and preservation of independent cinema: the Film Culture journal, the Film-makers Cooperative and Film-makers’ Cinematheque, the Anthology Film Archives. It is also through this double role as artist and organizer that Mekas becomes the link between the postwar avant-gardes in the States: from Andy Warhol's Factory to the Fluxus movement, from the poetry of the Beat Generation to the Living Theatre, the music of the Velvet Underground.
Cinema Is Young! inscribes this remarkable parable within a broad historical framework. On the one hand, the exhibition chronicles the frenzy of the 1960s and 1970s in which the New American Cinema Group, the American nouvelle vague, was born for opposing Hollywood and its industry. On the other hand, it pursues the artist in his more recent production, which embraces the advent of the digital, foreshadowing its developments. This is the case, for example, in the twelve-channel installation Dedication to Fernand Léger, presented for the first time in Italy, which combines the origins of avant-garde cinema and video technology in the dream of making a twenty-four-hour-long movie. Cinema Is Young! celebrates the eternal vitality of Jonas Mekas' cinema. A cinema that is produced at the pace of life and that anticipated this age in which everyone has a camera in their pocket. A cinema that, as Mekas says in his Anti-100 Years of Cinema Manifesto, is always beginning with every new buzz of the projector, with every new buzz of our cameras. BIOS Jonas Mekas (Biržai, 1922 - New York, 2019) was a Lithuanian filmmaker, poet and artist whose films are considered worldwide to be milestones of independent cinema.
Growing up in the small village of Semeniškiai, in 1944 Jonas escapes the Soviet occupa- tion of Lithuania together with his brother Adolfas. On their way to Switzerland, however, the two are captured by the Nazis and deported to the Elmshorn labor camp. In 1949, after four years spent in the refugee camps of Wiesbaden and Kassel, they both arrive in New York through a program of the International Refugee Organization.
In 1949, two months after his arrival in the United States, Jonas Mekas purchases his first Bolex camera. In 1954 he founds Film Culture journal, which quickly becomes the most important publication of film criticism in North America. In 1958 he begins the Movie Jour- nal column in The Village Voice. In late 1960 Mekas signs the New American Cinema Manifesto, which brings together an entire generation of independent filmmakers: Stan Brakhage, Jack Smith, Storm De Hirsch, Kenneth Anger, Andy Warhol, Shirley Clarke, Michael Snow and others. Developing the ideas expressed in the manifesto, in 1962 the artist founds the Film-Makers' Cooperative and, in 1964, the Film-Makers' Cinematheque, which in 1970 would becomè the Anthology Film Archives, one of the most extensive archives of avant-garde cinema in the world.

Jonas Mekas is widely recognized among the pioneers of the film-diary genre. His filmog- raphy includes such masterpieces as Walden (1969), Reminiscences of a Journey to Li- thuania (1972), Lost Lost Lost (1975), As I was Moving Ahead I saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000), Sleepless Nights Stories (2011) and Out-takes from the Life of a Happy Man (2012). His second feature film, The Brig, received the Grand Prix Leone di San Mar- co at the Venice Film Festival in 1963. Mekas' cinema cannot be reduced to 16mm film: it evolved as technology evolved. In 2006, the filmmaker took his diary to the website, where in 2007 he made one of his most ambitious projects: namely the 365 Day Project, a monumental work through which he films, edits and broadcasts a video for each day of that year. Since the early 1990s, Mekas also began making video installations and works designed for museum space. He participates in major contempo- rary art events: from Documenta XI (2002) and XIV (2017) to the Venice Biennale (2003 and 2005). In the last fifteen years, retrospective exhibitions have been dedicated to the artist in the most important museums in the world, including Museum Ludwig (Cologne 2008), Serpentine Gallery (London 2012), Centre Pompidou (Paris 2012), MUAC (Mexico City 2013), Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg 2013), MMCA (Seoul 2017), Jewish Muse- um (New York 2021), National Gallery of Art (Vilnius 2021).

Francesco Urbano Ragazzi is a curatorial duo founded in Paris in 2008. Through The Internet Saga platform, the duo has invented exhibition formats mixing art and reality by working closely with pioneers such as Jonas Mekas, Jennifer West, Kenneth Goldsmith, Miltos Manetas, and Cheryl Donegan, to name a few. Commissioned projects include collaborations with MMCA (Seoul), Kunstnernes Hus (Oslo), CERN (Geneva), Bucharest Biennale, Maraya Art Centre (Sharjah), Centro Ricerca Castello di Rivoli (Turin), ISCP (New York), Centre d’Art Contemporain Gèneve, La Loge (Brussels), La Casa Encendida (Madrid), Futura (Prague), Ruya Foundation (Baghdad), Emirates Foundation (Abu Dhabi). Since 2017, the team has directed the archives of the feminist artist Chiara Fumai. In 2021, with Carlo Antonelli, they published FUORI!!! 1971-1974 (Nero Editions), an anthology dedicated to the homosexual liberation movement in Italy. In 2022, Francesco Urbano Ragazzi directed the 17th LIAF Biennial in Norway. In the same year, they curated Jonas Mekas 100! in Italy, celebrating the centennial of the artist's birth with the largest retrospective of his work in Europe.