Let Me Introduce Myself, the Miami debut of seminal artist, filmmaker, and poet Jonas Mekas at Gallery Diet.
Since the mid-1950s, the Lithuanian-born Mekas has remained at the forefront of the American avant-garde and alternative cinema, working alongside peers like Andy Warhol and Kenneth Anger to influence subsequent generations of filmmakers and artists. Internationally renowned, Mekas is a master of using a camera to capture life with the intimacy of a diary sketch.
Let Me Introduce Myself brings together three series of photographs from Mekas’ body of work and a four-channel video installation. All four pieces attest to Mekas’ lasting conversation with American culture and ideology.
A centerpiece of the show, the unnerving Destruction Quartet shows instances of violence that have achieved an iconic status— one pair drawn from contemporary art and the other from global events. On one screen, the Berlin Wall is dismantled while passers-by gather handfuls of concrete. On another, the devastation of September 11th is visible in the rise of smoke-clouds, as filmed from the roof of the artist’s SoHo apartment. Then the viewer’s eye moves to acts of destructive art-making—Nam June Paik destroying a piano, and a fire sculpture by Danius Kesminas. As they play on separate loops, an ode emerges, as the four videos harmonize the protean relationship between destruction and creation.
Flanking the video installation, three photo series document bygone American eras with a tinge of sadness. The photo-grid Elvis comprises forty pictures that depict the waning star at his last and only performances in New York City, which were held at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 1972. This Side of Paradise shows the Kennedy children in an intimate look at a vacation in Montauk; and To New York With Love presents a suite of 21 photographs that capture the ambience of Mekas’ adopted home city.
Seating for the installation will be designed by ArandaLasch, who present three prototypes from their new Railingseries. Using the same high-performance material found on household items like oven mitts or spatulas, the pieces are imagined as oversized handle grips that can be sat on. Like a fractal, they explore ideas of self-similarity and continuity—each piece is a single loop made up of many other modular arcs.
Planned concurrently with Let Me Introduce Myself, Obsolete Media Miami (O.M.M.) will welcome Jonas Mekas to the Miami Design District on Saturday, March 26th, for a reception and screening of the artist’s diary-film opusWalden, Parts I and II. This special evening marks the first public screening of Walden in Miami and will benefit O.M.M., an experimental art studio establishing a picture and moving image archive and resource for artists, designers, filmmakers, researchers, and writers. For tickets and more information, visit Eventbrite.
Jonas Mekas was born in Semeniskiai, Lithuania, in 1922. He lives and works in New York. After being imprisoned by the Nazis in a forced-labor camp, and a period in Belgian Displaced Person camps, Mekas studied philosophy at the University of Mainz, and immigrated to the United States in 1949. In 1964, he founded the Filmmakers Cinematheque, which grew into Anthology Film Archives, one of the world’s largest collections of avant-garde film. He has directed numerous works on film, and published more than 20 volumes of poetry, essays, interviews, and diaries.
He is a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2013, was awarded the medal of commandeur by the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France. He has shown at the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 (New York), the Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, D.C.), the Centre Pompidou and the Jeu de Paume (Paris), the Hermitage (St. Petersburg),and the Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Tokyo); his work has also been featured at the 51st Venice Biennale, and Documenta 11.
Gallery Diet is a contemporary art space in Miami, Florida. Since 2007, the gallery has produced exhibitions by emerging and established artists from around the world. The gallery works alongside artists to produce ambitious projects both within the gallery space and beyond.