Fluxus East

Fluxus Networks in Central Eastern Europe

Jonas Mekas

1922, born in Semeniskiai, Lithuania
Lives in New York

During the Second World War, Mekas was held in a German forced labour camp for eight months in 1944. After the war, initially he studied philosophy at the University of Mainz (1946–48) before emigrating to the USA in 1949. There, he came into contact with avant-garde cinema and began to make and show his own films in 1953. In 1954, he became editor and director of Film Culture. Since 1958, Mekas has written film criticism in his column Movie Journal for New York’s city magazine Village Voice. In 1962, together with Emile de Antonio, Mekas founded the independent Film-Makers’ Cooperative (FMC) and in 1964 the Film-Makers’ Cinematheque. Later, this was to develop into the Anthology Film Archives, one of the most comprehensive and important collections of avant-garde film in the world. Mekas’ creative work includes feature films such as Guns of the Trees (1961), documentary films like The Brig (1963), and “diaries” such as Walden (1969), Lost, Lost, Lost (1975), Reminiscences of a Voyage to Lithuania, (1972), Zefiro Torna, (1992) and As I Was Moving Ahead, Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2001).

Mekas had special connections to Fluxus through his long friendship with George Maciunas, which also culminated in joint projects. For example, Maciunas worked as a designer for Film Culture and designed the rooms for the Anthology Film Archives in one of the houses belonging to the Flux House Cooperative. In turn, Mekas took part in Fluxus events and Flux Feasts. With Zefiro Torna (1992), Mekas created a moving and very personal homage to his friend, who died of cancer in 1978.

In 2007, the city council of Vilnius made a decision to found the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center; Mekas’ extensive Fluxus collection has been acquired and will be made accessible to the public – augmented by a Fluxus research centre.

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