Over the course of several decades, Jon Gartenberg and his company (GME) have worked extensively on the archiving (as well as the distribution and programming) of artists’ films. He has authored an article entitled "The Fragile Emulsion" that summarizes his conceptual framework and methodology for approaching the restoration of experimental moving image works. This keystone article has been published in the Association of Moving Image Archivist’s journal The Moving Image, as well as in the International Federation of Film Archives’ Journal of Film Preservation.
GME Signature Projects:
"l still recall in vivid fashion the day when we retrieved Warhol's films from a remote storage facility in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Innumerable boxes of film elements, comprising thousands of reels of film, were subsequently deposited in MOMA’s film storage vaults. As I later came to realize, Warhol, acting as a film producer, had treated the legacy of his film works in similar fashion to more mainstream, commercial film production companies. Once the immediate economic life of these properties had been exploited, the physical materials were boxed, and ferreted away to remote storage, where they remained untended for years. Therefore, our primary challenge in preserving Warhol’s films was to transform this collection of disparate material into an archiving system which would enable orderly access. We brought the original camera footage from dead warehouse storage together with prints previously generated in the 1960s (many of which were housed at the Factory), and then assembled a detailed technical inspection record for every reel of film that had been produced."
– Jon Gartenberg, “Excavating Andy Warhol’s Film Legacy”, in A Diamond Jubilee for Andy!/A Tribute to Andy Warhol on His 75th Birthday
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Following Warren Sonbert’s untimely death in 1995, Jon Gartenberg has served as the exclusive representative for the filmmaker’s estate in all matters concerning his creative career. He has devised and executed a comprehensive plan for furthering this artist’s legacy. All of Sonbert’s films are preserved at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Harvard University has acquired a complete set of master prints of Sonbert’s films, in addition to his 16mm work reels and papers.
Articles related to Warren Sonbert:
- Friendly Witnesses: The Worlds of Warren Sonbert (Guggenheim exhibition, 1999)
- FILM; A Film and a Filmmaker, Each as Fragile as Life (NY Times review of Guggenheim exhibition)
For more information about GME’s work in furthering Warren Sonbert’s legacy through retrospective exhibitions and other initiatives, see:
Warren Sonbert Retrospective
Jon Gartenberg developed a film preservation program under the auspices of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS. Multi-talented visual artist Jack Waters was the first living filmmaker whose work was preserved by the project, comprising three of his key works: BERLIN/NY, THE MALE GAYZE, and DIOTIMA. The originals and preservation materials for these films were then archived in the Fales Library at New York University.
Articles related to Jack Waters:
Also under the rubric of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, Gartenberg devised a plan to preserve selected films of artist David Wojnarowicz that were stored at the Fales Library. Key films were selected, focusing primarily on films that had not been seen previously in public exhibitions of Wojnarowicz’s artwork, including FIRE IN MY BELLY, HEROIN, HOWDIE DOODY, and THE DEATH OF PETER HUJAR. WHERE EVIL DWELLS (co-made with Tommy Turner) was fully restored from the camera original material.
"Beryl Sokoloff (1918-2006), a permanent fixture of the New York art world, was a creative artist who worked in many different art forms: as a painter, a photographer, a photojournalist, a musician and a filmmaker. His cinematic oeuvre spanned half a century, beginning in the 1950s when he made films in 8mm, and later, 16mm. Sokoloff's filmmaking style lies on the dividing line between documentary and avant-garde film. His films can be viewed in the experimental filmmaking tradition with links in technique to Bruce Conner, Stan Vanderbeek, Francis Thompson and numerous other artists, but distinct from them in terms of Sokoloff’s particular cinematic style and strategy. He completed more than 75 films, yet virtually nothing is known about his cinematic output. The purpose of this exhibition of two programs is to bring attention to the creative vision of this overlooked experimental filmmaker, and to begin a dialogue about the importance of archiving, restoring and distributing his films."
– Jon Gartenberg, program note from Discovering Beryl Sokoloff, Anthology Film Archives (2008)
"In Beryl Sokolof’s FIRE (US, 1963), a conflagration on a Chelsea pier along the Hudson River becomes a metaphor for the tension between creative and destructive forces of nature. The filmmaker’s cinematography exhibits a flair for vividly capturing the tactile feel of objects, whether man-made constructions or waves crashing upon the shore. A dynamic montage style involves radical spatial and temporal displacements. Dispensing with establishing shots, Sokoloff juxtaposes long shots in one locale with extreme close-ups in another to create a disorientation in the spatial continuum. Sokoloff forgoes the temporal continuity (progressing from sunrise to sunset) traditionally used in the city symphony film; instead, he interlaces shots from different times of day into a poetic contrast of shining light and texture."
– Jon Gartenberg, "NY, NY: A Century of City Symphony Films, Framework: The Journal of Cinema & Media (Fall, 2014)
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