Exhibition of the Week: Jonas Mekas, Serpentine Gallery, London W2
Zoe Pilger is an art critic for The Independent and winner of the 2011 Frieze International Writers Prize. Her first novel, Eat My Heart Out, will be published by Serpent's Tail in February 2014. She is also researching a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London, on the subject of romantic love and sadomasochism in the work of contemporary female artists. She has appeared on BBC's The Review Show and Sky News
Saturday 15 December 2012
Born in Lithuania in 1922, Jonas Mekas is a leading figure of the 20th-century avant-garde. A poet, film-maker and artist, he emigrated to Brooklyn in 1949 after five years in displaced persons camps.
His fragmentary though flowing style of film-making is an exercise in "how to be true with the camera." He is interested in people: "What's real, what's there." Coinciding with seasons of his films at the BFI and Centre Pompidou, this exhibition draws on Mekas' 60-year career.
His films and stills appear contemporary, as though made to be shared on social media; his subject matter is intimate, lyrical but heavy on the hipsterdom.
But is his story as an artist in exile that is most fascinating. Written in a displaced persons camp, Idylls of Semeniskiai (1946) are poems that recall his rural childhood.
They evoke an atmosphere of "shimmering heat," evident too in the later films, when the fields of home are replaced by Central Park.
(020 7402 6075; serpentinegallery.org) to 27 Jan
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