From: Brett Kashmere (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Nov 03 2007 - 10:17:30 PDT
ABOUT TIME >>
Curated by Brett Kashmere
Nov. 27 & 29, 2007: Musée
d'art moderne et contemporain de Strasbourg,
Nov. 30: École d’art
Gérard Jacot / Presented by Espace multimedia Gantner / Belfort
Dec. 4: École nationale
supérieure des beaux-arts / Presented in collaboration with Light Cone / Paris
Dec. 4: Cinema L'action
Christine / Presented by Light Cone / Paris
international attention through an Oscar nomination at the age of 25, the legendary National Film Board artist Arthur Lipsett remains an anomaly within avant-garde film histories.
Uneasily oscillating between a personal, artisanal tradition and the NFB’s institutional mandate “to interpret Canada for Canadians,” he was a popular experimental filmmaker whose eccentric, satirical collage films were renowned around the world. The NFB's former “boy
genius” was admired by such diverse film patriarchs as Stanley Kubrick,
Stan Brakhage, and George Lucas and has been compared favourably to William
Blake, J.D. Salinger, Glenn Gould, Dziga Vertov, and Bruce Conner.
While apprenticing with Norman McLaren in the
NFB’s animation department, Lipsett developed an original method
of audio-visual counterpoint. According to Lucas, “No one
understood the power of image and sound better than Lipsett.” Lipsett
crafted his films from documentary outtakes, stock footage and sound extracted
from cutting room trim-bins, which he combined with his own moving and
still images. Humorous and darkly ironic by turns, his films encompassed
many genres, blending experimental form and structure with insightful
The exhibition Arthur Lipsett: About Time presents the first European retrospective of Lipsett’s concise but
influential career, re-assembling his dazzling collage work alongside correlative Canadian media artists from the past half-century. Always rhythmically “in time,” Lipsett’s filmmaking
opened new directions and possibilities for his and subsequent generations. Seen in this context, Lipsett’s experiments, with time, assume ever richer, more abundant meanings.
Arthur Lipsett: About Time is produced by the Musée d'art moderne et contemporain de Strasbourg. Travel funding has been provided by The Canada Council for the Arts. The films of Arthur Lipsett are produced and distributed by the National Film Board of Canada. Additional films and videos courtesy Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, Vtape, and Cinémathèque québécoise.
Full program notes here
LOST & FOUND
The Films of Arthur Lipsett
Arthur Lipsett recognized cinema's
ability to reveal the ugly side of life, the things we don’t want
to acknowledge: the refuse. By pursuing truth within the everyday, Lipsett
also discovered beauty in the basic and the absurd. Utilizing found materials
in concert with self-shot photos and footage, his films transform the
fragmentary nature of refuse into a unified material vision. This program
brings together Lipsett’s first five celluloid compositions, produced
at the National Film Board of Canada across the 1960s. These films, which
represent the primary arc of his artistic evolution, exemplify how pictures
and sounds can be fused in a synthetic yet sincerely personal form.
Canadian Collage Film & Video after Arthur Lipsett
Arthur Lipsett was working
at a time when independent avant-garde filmmaking did not exist in Canada,
with a few isolated exceptions – Jack Chambers in London, Ontario;
David Rimmer and Al Razutis in Vancouver; Joyce Wieland and Michael Snow,
who jointly relocated from Toronto to New York in 1963. In the absence
of tradition, Lipsett blazed a new trail. His pioneering collage films
imparted exciting possibilities for handmade, cameraless and found footage
filmmaking, both in his time and in the present day. Extending upon his
applications of vertical montage (the moment-to-moment juxtaposition of
picture and sound), the Canadian collage film and video that follows Lipsett
is marked by greater formal manipulation and layering, combined with,
in some cases, autobiographical, poetic, and emotional subject matter.
Including films and videos by: Rick Hancox, Joyce Wieland, Christina Battle, Steven Woloshen, Kelly Egan, Gariné Torossian, Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof, Richard Kerr, Aleesa Cohene, Alissa Firth-Eagland, and Tasman Richardson.
HEAVY MAGIC IS COMING
Arthur Lipsett's Last Films
Celebrated for a handful of remarkable films that circled the globe throughout
the 1960s, Arthur Lipsett also authored two works that have seldom screened
anywhere. Recalling the Beat ethos of previous decades, N-Zone
(1970) and Strange Codes (1972) have more in common with the
rambling dramaturgy of the American underground cinema of Adolfas Mekas,
Ron Rice, Taylor Mead, Ken Jacobs and Jack Smith, than the acerbic collage
style for which Lipsett was famous. Languid, theatrical, self-conscious,
and semi-autobiographical, these last films were crafted during a time
of declining institutional support and advancing mental illness. “Heavy
Magic is Coming” culls its title from the fragmentary notes and
diagrams for Strange Codes, evincing Lipsett’s late-career,
debilitating paranoia, and an urgent faith in magic.
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