GME is proud to announce the release of cinematic portraits of Marie Menken and Peter Kubelka, now available for institutional sales in North America. Both films were created by noted documentary filmmaker Martina Kudláček.
Marie Menken and Peter Kubelka are two towering figures in the history of avant-garde cinema. Both fiercely independent individuals, they have each created singular and distinct bodies of work. Menken’s films, shot between 1945 and 1967, are noted for her poetic studies of both nature and urban settings, all shot with her handheld Bolex camera and edited in a rapid montage style. Kubleka’s moving image works are constructed in a precisely-calibrated fashion, aligned more with structuralist film concerns. Beginning with his first film made in 1955 (MOSAIK IM VERTRAUEN (MOSAIC IN CONFIDENCE)], Kubelka continues today to produce work in celluloid film formats.
Documentary filmmaker Martina Kudláček has developed a unique cinematic legacy by creating discursive, biographical documentaries on experimental cinema personalities. Over the course of her career, she has developed portraits of Alexander Hammid (AIMLESS WALK, 1997). Maya Deren (IN THE MIRROR OF MAYA DEREN, 2002), Marie Menken (NOTES ON MARIE MENKEN, 2006), and Peter Kubelka (FRAGMENTS OF KUBELKA, 2012). Her two most recent films are now available for study in high quality digital editions published by the Austrian Filmmuseum in conjunction with the Edition Filmmuseum series (FRAGMENTS OF KUBELKA) and through the INDEX DVD series from Sixpack Films, Vienna (NOTES ON MARIE MENKEN).
“Kudláček's fascinating, filmic diary NOTES ON MARIE MENKEN follows the reminiscences of her friends and colleagues, among them Gerard Malanga (poet, photographer, and filmmaker) and Jonas Mekas (fellow Lithuanian, artist, and public champion of the avant-garde). Various interviewees recount how the public, marital theatrics of Menken and her husband, filmmaker Willard Maas, became the inspiration for the perennial battling older couple in Edward Albee's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
Beginning with the excavation of Marie's rusty film cans, old photographs, and papers housed in a storage locker, Kudláček brings Menken vividly back to life. She contrasts her own crisp black-and-white digital cinematography with lush color excerpts from Menken's 16 mm celluloid films. In the film's most compelling sequence, fellow artist Gerard Malanga winds through a rare clip of Marie Menken and Andy Warhol on a New York City rooftop. They seemed to be engaged in an artistic duel, each shooting with their respective 16 mm Bolex cameras. The moviola, through which the film runs, sheds light on an intricately choreographed dance that shines through flickering images of deteriorating film."
- Jon Gartenberg on NOTES ON MARIE MENKEN, Tribeca Film Festival 2006
The bonus feature on this DVD edition comprises four of the poetic, experimental films that Menken created between 1945 and 1966, and which are referenced in Kudláček’s documentary: VISUAL VARIATIONS ON NOGUCHI (1945), GLIMPSE OF THE GARDEN (1957), ARABESQUE FOR KENNETH ANGER (1958-61), and LIGHTS (1964-1966).
Several years in the making, Kudláček's latest film production runs four times the length of artist Peter Kubelka’s entire cinematic output.
"Kubelka's films play and work with the flow of time, compressing the continuous now and presence. His films digest the manifold things of the universe: the elemental energies of light and dark; movement and stillness; the life of animals and patterns of landscape; gesture and dance. With another mode of time Kudláček shared with us Kubelka's patient pace of conversation and listening, exploring things that mean so much to the artist: memories, souvenirs, his past and childhood, his home. All these things entered into Kubelka's films, but here they are brought to light and made part of his legacy as teacher and as artist. In perhaps the most sensual sequence, Kudláček shows Kubelka as he prepares, cooks and then eats Wiener Schnitzel. Following rather than compressing the flow of time, we watch as ingredients embrace each other: egg, flour, meat and butter. We see the browning and transformation of these things exposed to fire, listen to their ecstatic metamorphosis. As Kubelka says, food is a metaphor that can be eaten, a meal is a work of art that can be consumed and digested. To digest, Kubelka tells us, is to embrace the universe. FRAGMENTS OF KUBELKA allows us to savor, swallow and digest these lessons."
– Tom Gunning
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