David Belisle, Mike Figgis, Raha Raissnia, Lee Ranaldo, and Leah Singer will join Chuck Smith and Benn Northover to discuss “To Jonas with Love,” a multimedia exhibition honoring Jonas Mekas.
In this talk
To Jonas with Love (Ki Smith Gallery) is a multimedia exhibition honoring Jonas Mekas curated by Chuck Smith and Benn Northover. For over sixty years, from his earliest days living on Orchard Street in the 1950s until his passing in 2019, Lithuanian filmmaker, poet, and artist Jonas Mekas was a cultural icon of Downtown NYC and a passionate guardian of artistic freedom. As he wandered through- out the city with his ever-present camera, Jonas always sought glimpses of beauty and poetry amid the bustle of the streets.
Through his work and activism he stood as a guiding light for generations of artists and filmmakers. Along the way, he founded Film Culture magazine, the Filmmakers Co-op and Cinematheque, Anthology Film Archives, and the now-legendary Movie Journal col- umn in The Village Voice. This month, Jonas’s friends come together to celebrate the joy and inspiration that Jonas evoked and to remember his vibrant and undying poetic spirit. This exhibition features an eclectic mix of artists and filmmakers whose works either em- body or directly respond to Jonas’s tireless creativity and self-expression. To Jonas with Love will include a traditional gallery installation of photography, painting, drawing, and sculpture at the new Ki Smith Gallery East Village (197 East 4th Street) as well as a film and video installation with projections and monitors at the Gallery’s annex (181 Mott Street). (Read the full press release.)
David Belisle is a self-taught analog photographer who got his start capturing the 90’s music scene in his hometown, Seattle. Since then, he’s toured with & photographed bands such as R.E.M., Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sinead O’Connor, and Patti Smith. He met Jonas Mekas through some good friends shortly after moving to NYC 10 years ago. David is also the studio manager for Michael Stipe.
Mike Figgis has emerged as a visionary filmmaker who thrives on taking risks. Figgis has roots in experimental theater and music, which are just two primary influences that contribute to the creative vision evident in all of his feature films and documentaries. Although he has been at the helm of such quintessentially mainstream movies as Internal Affairs with Richard Gere, the British-born filmmaker has exhibited his more eclectic personal style in films such as Stormy Monday and Liebestraum.
Over the past decade, Raha Raissnia’s paintings, drawings, and films have unfolded within a permutational, self- reflexive structure. In her earlier work, the artist presented dense, architectonic black and white drawings and paintings that appeared to echo a certain postwar European abstraction. Rather than deferring to gesture, however, Raissnia orchestrated these scapes by steadily tracing a configuration of intersecting and overlapping vectors in space. In her self-titled exhibition at the gallery in 2009, a hybrid 16mm film and 35mm slide projection occupying one wall provided a glimpse into the expanded cinema practice that informs the artist’s two-dimensional work. The artist’s films, drawings, and paintings are closely imbricated: paintings are contrapuntal compositions catalyzed by film stills, transferred faintly onto the surface of the panel and elaborated upon with oil and gesso. Her films echo this archaeological process, constructed from fragments of earlier work and structured as overlapping pairs of 35mm slide and 16mm film projections. Raissnia’s drawings and collages, likewise comprised of image transfers, with Sumi ink and compressed charcoal, examine this relationship of mutual influence. All are guided by the materiality of their media.
Lee Ranaldo, musician, visual artist, and writer, co-founded Sonic Youth in 1981, and has been active on the New York and International music and art scenes for the past 40+ years as composer, performer and producer; also exhibiting visual art and publishing several books of journals, poetry and writings on music. His newest LP Names of North End Women was released in February 2020 on Mute Records.
Leah Singer is a multi-disciplinary artist working in film, video, photography, printmaking and small book publishing. As a journalist she centers her work on artist interviews most recently with the architect James Wines and the photographer Mitch Epstein. Since the early 90s she has collaborated with musician Lee Ranaldo on live film and music performances.
Mr. Smith is a filmmaker, TV producer, and writer who has produced documentaries and TV series for National Geographic, Discovery, CBS News, and many others. His films include “Barbara Rubin & the Exploding NY Underground” (2019) and “Forrest Bess: Key to the Riddle” (1999). The Bess film was turned into a book and published in 2013 by PowerHouse Books. Mr. Smith’s other independent films and interviews can be found on his YouTube Channel “ChuckSmithNYC” and on Vimeo.
Benn Northover is an Actor and Director. He was a close friend and collaborator with Jonas Mekas for over two decades, leading to several film and video projects and a number of international gallery exhibitions at institutions including the Centre Pompidou, BFI London and Agnès b.’s Galerie du Jour in Paris. In 2012 Northover co-curated the landmark exhibition of work by Mekas at the Serpentine Gallery in London alongside Hans-Ulrich Obrist.
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