Jonas Mekas, autumn 1973. Photo courtesy of Maironis Lithuanian Literature Museum
At the start of the year that marks Jonas Mekas’ centenary, the Lithuanian Culture Institute, which coordinates the international programme of centenary celebrations titled Jonas Mekas 100!, and its partners, present the online calendar of events jonasmekas100.com. The diary-style website which is constantly being updated lists all the international events dedicated to the Mekas’ centenary in one place allowing to find out how the artist’s life and work will be celebrated in Denmark, Italy, Israel, the USA, the United Kingdom, Poland, Russia, South Korea, France, Finland, Sweden, Ukraine, Germany and other parts of the world.
The programme of more than 50 events, which is continuously expanding, has been put together in cooperation with the Lithuanian Culture Institute, the Lithuanian Cultural Attachés and Estate of Jonas Mekas, established by Mekas’ son Sebastian Mekas and the artist’s close friends: director, film curator, film distributor Pip Chodorov and director Julius Ziz (Žižliauskas).
DIARY OF CENTENARY EVENTS
“As we were putting the programme together with our partners, we realised that the geography of Jonas Mekas’ centenary events will span the whole world. When creating the calendar of events, we were considering how to present to those interested in the events dedicated to this artist what is being planned in their neighbouring countries and further. The diary-like structure of the website was proposed to us by the design agency Acid, and it is both close to Jonas Mekas’ style and user-friendly. Visitors who enter the website immediately find themselves on the page of the current month’s calendar, while also being able to see what events have already taken place and what are still ahead, and filter the events according to their interest. This page is also an archive where we store the calendar of events that is constantly being expanded and record the importance of Jonas Mekas’ ideas in different cultural contexts,” says Asta Visminaitė, project coordinator and project manager at the Lithuanian Culture Institute.
The visual solution of the online calendar is based on the logo of the international centennial programme created by the artist’s family, friends and designer Anastasia Zizliauskas. The logo is composed of Mekas’ authentic signature, which resembles his hat, and the caption Jonas Mekas 100! typed on his typewriter. There is an interesting story behind this caption: Jonas Mekas had added Lithuanian letters to his Olympia Deluxe typewriter that he purchased in Chicago in 1955, so there was no space left for the exclamation mark. When it was needed, the artist used to write it by hand. When creating the logo, the exclamation mark was added by his son Sebastian Mekas.
The events diary also presents an opportunity to discover the creative biography of this avant-garde filmmaker, film critic, writer and poet, as well as the idea behind the anniversary programme, and find out about the organisations that contributed to the programme. The events programme is presented by a video created by Lina Lužytė and Urtė Oettinger.
THE KALEIDOSCOPE OF EVENTS
The centennial programme will include film screenings, exhibitions, video installations, concerts, poetry readings, discussion and thematic residency programmes, creative poetry translation workshops, publishing projects and other initiatives.
A programme of ten Jonas Mekas’ films is currently being shown at the Close-Up Film Centre in London (until 30 January).
Early this year, the South Korean publishing house Jiazazhi will publish a translation of Mekas’ book, Conversation with Film-Makers: Movie Journal Columns from 1961 to 1975. Meanwhile, Israeli poetry magazine HO! will publish Mekas’ poems in Sivan Beskin’s translation and an introductory article by the poet Aušra Kaziliūnaitė.
In Spring, the exhibition titled Jonas Mekas: The Camera Was Always Running will open at the Jewish Museum in New York. It will also include a monograph of the same title by Kelly Taxter, Inesa Brašiškė and Lukas Brašiškis, which was published at the beginning of November 2021 by Yale University Press, together with the Jewish Museum and the Lithuanian National Museum of Art.
Various events and initiatives will continue throughout 2022 and beyond.
The partners of the Jonas Mekas 100! include such esteemed and world-renowned cultural institutions as the Jewish Museum and Lincoln Cinema Center in New York, the Monira Foundation in Jersey City (USA), the Palace of Exhibitions (Italy), Tel Aviv’s Felicja Blumental Music Center and Library (Israel), HOME – centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film in Manchester (UK) Dusseldorf Film Museum (Germany), the Camargo Foundation (France), Wroclaw’s New Horizons Film Festival (Poland), Tampere Film Festival (Finland), publishing house Spector Books (Germany), Busan Film Festival (South Korea) and other. Extensive film programmes are planned at film institutes in France and Denmark and Tel Aviv and Jerusalem cinematheques.
The programme’s special partner in Lithuania is the Lithuanian Film Centre.
The Jonas Mekas 100! programme is coordinated by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, Estate of Jonas Mekas, the Lithuanian Cultural Attachés, and is partially funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.
The Lithuanian Culture Institute is a budgetary institution established by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, which consistently strengthens the role of Lithuanian culture in the world. The Institute purposefully presents Lithuanian culture and professional art abroad and increases the opportunities for cultural operators, artists, specialists and organisations working in these fields on the international scene.