JONAS MEKAS at Darren Knight Gallery

Darren Knight Gallery

October 4, 2006


The Destruction Quartet 2006

October 10 – November 4, 2006

Opening Reception: Tuesday, October 10, 6pm-8pm

Darren Knight Gallery

840 Elizabeth Street

Waterloo, Sydney NSW 2017


T: 61 2 9699 5353

F: 61 2 9699 5254

E: [email protected]

Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm

Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney is pleased to present The Destruction Quartet, a new 4 monitor, video installation by Jonas Mekas.

Jonas Mekas was born in 1922 in Lithuania and migrated to New York in 1949. Arriving with a keen interest in film, poetry and philosophy, Mekas would eventually establish himself as a seminal figure in the history of twentieth century filmmaking. His profound influence on the development of independent cinema is recognized by filmmakers and visual artists worldwide and is embodied in the central role he played in the establishment of the Filmmaker’s Cooperative in 1962, the Filmmaker’s Cinémathèque in 1964 and the Anthology Film Archive in 1972. He also launched the magazine Film Culture in 1954 and started writing a weekly column for Village Voice in 1958. Mekas’ extensive oeuvre includes such films as Guns of the trees 1961; The brig 1963; Walden 1969; Lost lost lost 1975; Reminiscences of a journey to Lithuania 1972; Zefiro torna or Scenes from the life of George Maciunas 1992; Happy birthday to John 1996 and As I was moving ahead, occasionally I saw brief glimpses of beauty 2001.

The Destruction Quartet features four films, each presented on a separate monitor, which bring together fragments of symbolic and real acts of destruction. Each film, of varying duration, is played on a continuous loop. The first documents a 1997 Nam June Paik performance in which he destroys a piano, the second observes the demolition of the Berlin Wall in 1990, the third is Mekas’ footage of Danius Kesminas’ fire sculpture, (New York) Consequence presented in New York in 1991 and the last graphically records the September 11 destruction of the World Trade Center. Mekas filmed 9/11 from the roof of his SoHo apartment building.

While the soundtracks in the first three films create an ambient backdrop to the filmed events, the increasingly incredulous comments by a fellow observer in the 9/11 footage bring a chill to the whole installation. In an attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible Mekas has, with the addition of a title page quoting the 19thCentury German poet Heinrich Heine (Ein Marchen aus alten Zeiten) and an old photographic image of a young child, presented 9/11 as a fairy tale, as if passing on the story as folklore; disconnecting it slightly from its defining date and introducing a sense of timelessness and metaphor.

Mekas has for most of his life celebrated the beauty and wonder in life’s small and everyday events, making The Destruction Quartet all the more potent.

The Destruction Quartet was developed for the exhibition Jonas Mekas: Celebration of the small and personal in the times of bigness, at the Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, 13 July – 16 August 2006. The exhibition Celebration of the small and personal in the times of bigness was originally presented in the Lithuanian Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 and was curated by Liutauras Psibilskis & Lolita Jablonskiene.

The Destruction Quartet is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue that includes an essay by Jan Verwoert and a personal reflection on Jonas Mekas and The Destruction Quartet by Danius Kesminas.