MO Museum is about to open a new small exhibition, featuring Jonas Mekas, the legendary avant-garde filmmaker. The exhibition “Mekas Winks Better” will open this month, on 29 November.
Exhibition featuring freeze frames
“The idea of creating an exhibition dedicated to Jonas Mekas came up back in 2018 when nearly 100 frozen film frames of Mekas’ films became part of the MO collection. He was able to personally confirm the authorship of all these shots,” says Milda Ivanauskienė, Director at MO Museum.
“As if under a spell, Mekas was constantly improving the frames of his selected film shots, depicting New York’s art scene activists and the moments of reality of that time. The frozen film frames of Mekas’ films continue their further existence without Mekas himself as works of art and testimonies of cultural memory. The exhibition puts a new visual rhythm for these shots: the web of life events reminiscent of the snow-covered Soho streets will whirl like Christmas in memoriam for Mekas and his friends,” says Edmondas Kelmickas, the exhibition curator.
The avant-garde filmmaker himself found it interesting to pick out selected shots and exhibit them as independent pieces. Mekas began exhibiting such exhibitions of frozen film frames since 1983. These shots are interdisciplinary pieces that still belong to the field of cinema but are getting closer to photography.
Andy Warhol, John Lennon, Elvis Presley and others
“Mekas’ frozen film frames bespeak the intertwining relationships and influences of the avant-garde art and pop culture artists of the 1960s and 1970s. Mekas was attracted to interesting people, and he himself was an attractive person who contributed to the global art processes and events,” says Deima Žuklytė-Gasperaitienė, the exhibition curator.
Photographs displayed at MO Museum will give visitors the opportunity to see a number of prominent figures: Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Andy Warhol, Nam June Paik, Elvis Presley and Jurgis Mačiūnas. They are not purposefully captured in Mekas’ footage but are part of New York’s overall cultural context. Mekas influenced some of these artists or even contributed to their work in various ways. For example, Andy Warhol went to Mekas’ loft for several months and observed his work. Only then did Mekas find out that the person visiting him was actually the US pop art celebrity. Mekas encouraged Warhol to take the film camera and helped him shoot one of his first films, Empire (1964).
Why and compared to who does Mekas wink better?
An exhibition has an intriguing title that may pose the question: why and compared to who does Mekas wink better?
“Mekas himself describes winking as a way of communication that can take on many meanings: expressing approval or resentment, disgust or admiration,” says the exhibition curator Kelmickas.
Representatives of MO Museum are sharing some clues in advance: this is related to the films and happenings that not only Mekas took part in but also Salvador Dali.
Exhibition opening in rhythm of New York
The exhibition opens on 29 November at 7 p.m. That evening, the exhibition and its concept will be presented by the exhibition curators Edmondas Kelmickas, Deima Žuklytė-Gasperaitienė, exhibition designer Gytis Skudžinskas, photo artist Arūnas Kulikauskas and Eglė Lukšaitė, who had worked at Jonas Mekas Film Archive in New York.
During the evening, Dovydas Bliuvšteinas will bring all visitors to New York with its musical beats, as he is preparing the downtown New York playlist for the exhibition opening. It will feature punk rock, lighter avant-garde and jazz music from the legendary New York-based underground music club CBGB. The entrance is available with the Museum ticket.