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Jonas Mekas 100 news, News


Lithuanian Culture Institute

On 25-28 August, the South of France, much loved by Jonas Mekas, began to celebrate his centenary with an exhibition of Mekas’ photolithography and film screenings opened at Art-O-Rama, an art fair in Marseille. In September, a workshop on the translation of Mekas’ poetry into French was held at the Marseille International Poetry Centre, following which the audience was invited to readings of the translated poems at the Camargo Foundation in Marseille and Cassis. The latter also hosted the premiere of the work of the sound artist Arturas Bumšteinas dedicated to Jonas Mekas. The centennial programme in the South of France, under the title From My Window, was completed by screenings of Jonas Mekas’ films in partnership with the FIDMarseille documentary film festival and the Videodrome 2 cinema hall in Marseille.

The programme dedicated to the centenary of Jonas Mekas in the South of France was organised by the Lithuanian cultural attaché in France, the Lithuanian Culture Institute and partners in France.

Through Jonas Mekas’ window

“The lighthouse of the sea gate of the Mediterranean town of Cassis, steep cliffs and boats swinging at anchor have become an iconic image linking Jonas Mekas and the South of France, which often reoccurs in the artist’s films and which set the mood for the series of events titled From My Window. That was the view Jonas Mekas would see from his window in the 1960s and 1970s while visiting his friend filmmaker, artist and philanthropist Jerome Hill’s summer residence in Cassis, where he created and experimented with art and recorded images of everyday life, and where the Camargo Foundation is currently based,” said Asta Visminaitė, project manager of the Lithuanian Culture Institute of Culture, who coordinates the international programme celebrating the centenary of Jonas Mekas.

According to Austė Zdančiūtė, the Lithuanian cultural attaché in France, today Marseille is culturally one of the most interesting cities in France, standing out with its particularly vibrant culture and artists’ scene. “So it is simply wonderful that the Jonas Mekas centennial program brought special events to this city,” noted the cultural attaché.

According to Zdančiūtė, the programme of events in the South of France was put together step by step – and “almost magically”: “It all started last year when we organised Arturas Bumšteinas’ residency at the Camargo Foundation, during which the composer began to write the piece dedicated to Jonas Mekas. After word spread about the spirit of Jonas Mekas in Marseille, the director of the Poetry Centre happened to find a book signed by Mekas in his library, which was gifted to Jerome Hill, the founder of the Camargo Foundation. He became curious to find out the history of the book, and later the Poetry Centre expressed their wish to get involved in the experiment of Mekas’ poetry translation. Thus, we had music and poetry events in our programme; what we needed to add were film screenings. That is how the FIDMarseille festival and the Videodrome 2 cinema theatre got on board with us: these partners curated film programmes and presentations,” the cultural attaché shared the details on the programme’s coming together.

Films, poetry and music

The exhibition opened on 25 August as part of Art-O-Rama, titled To New York With Love, presented a series of 21 prints created by Jonas Mekas in 2009, which has the composition of the cine film. There was also a screening of Mekas’ film As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses Of Beauty. The exhibition at the Marseille art fair was presented by the Paris-based The Film Gallery.

The translation workshop of Jonas Mekas’ poetry, which was held on 12-18 September at the International Poetry Centre in Marseille, was attended by writer, poet, translator, screenwriter and film critic Stéphane Bouquet, poet and translator Jean-Baptiste Cabaud, poets and translators Roxana Hashemi and Anne Portugal, translator Ainis Selena, and writer, translator and journalist Marielle Vitureau. The workshop marked the start of the two-year Traduire Mekas (Translating Mekas) programme which is set to include more translation workshops.

On 18 September, Arturas Bumšteinas’ piece for chamber ensemble, electronics and Jonas Mekas’ voice recording, titled More Music for Jonas, was performed by the artist together with the C Barré ensemble at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis. According to the sound artist and interdisciplinary composer Bumšteinas, the core of the piece is the 1972’ Mekas’ voice recorded in the movie Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania.

The programme of films by Jonas Mekas at FIDMarseille started on 14 September with the film detailing the cinematic correspondence between José Luis Guerín and Jonas Mekas, Correspondence: Jonas Mekas – J.L. Guerín. On 15 September, the screens of Marseille hosted Mekas’ film Lost Lost Lost, which was presented by film historian Cécile Tourneur. On 16 September, the Videodrome 2 cinema hall welcomed the screening of Jonas Mekas’ short film programme, also with the participation of Tourneur. The events dedicated to Jonas Mekas in Marseille concluded on 17 September with the screening of his iconic work As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses Of Beauty.

The international project Jonas Mekas 100! is dedicated to celebrating the centenary of avant-garde filmmaker, film critic, and poet Jonas Mekas in 2022. The international programme, comprising over 50 various events, has been put together by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, the Lithuanian cultural attachés and the Estate of Jonas Mekas. Film screenings, exhibitions, video installations, concerts, poetry readings, discussion and thematic residency programmes, poetry translation workshops, publishing projects and other initiatives have been taking place in leading cultural institutions in many countries around the world. The programme is partially funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. The Jonas Mekas 100! programme is available on the website

The Lithuanian Culture Institute is a budgetary institution established by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, which is dedicated to consistently strengthening the role of Lithuanian culture in the world. The Institute purposefully presents Lithuanian culture and professional art abroad and enhances the opportunities on the international scene for cultural professionals and artists, as well as for specialists and organisations working in these fields.