Gallery Diet presents “Let Me Introduce Myself,” the Miami debut of seminal artist, filmmaker, and poet Jonas Mekas.
Since the mid-1950s, the Lithuanian-born Mekas has remained at the forefront of the American avant-garde and alternative cinema, working alongside peers like Andy Warhol and Kenneth Anger to influence subsequent generations of filmmakers and artists. Internationally renowned, Mekas is a master of using a camera to capture life with the intimacy of a diary sketch.
“Let Me Introduce Myself” brings together three series of photographs from Mekas’ body of work and a four-channel video installation. All four pieces attest to Mekas’ lasting conversation with American culture and ideology.
A centerpiece of the show, the unnerving Destruction Quartet shows instances of violence that have achieved an iconic status— one pair drawn from contemporary art and the other from global events. On one screen, the Berlin Wall is dismantled while passers-by gather handfuls of concrete. On another, the devastation of September 11th is visible in the rise of smoke-clouds, filmed from the roof of the artist’s SoHo apartment. Then the viewer’s eye moves to acts of destructive art-making—Nam June Paik destroying a piano, and a fire sculpture by Danius Kesminas. As they play on separate loops, an ode emerges and the four videos harmonize the protean relationship between destruction and creation.
Flanking the video installation, three photo series document bygone American eras with a tinge of sadness. The photo-grid Elvis comprises forty pictures that depict the waning star at his last and only performances in New York City, which were held at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 1972. This Side of Paradise shows the Kennedy children in an intimate look at a Montauk vacation; and To New York With Love presents a suite of 21 photographs that capture the ambience of Mekas’ adopted home city.
Seating for the installation will be designed by Aranda\Lasch, who present three prototypes from their new Railing series. Using the same high-performance material found on household items like oven mitts or spatulas, the pieces are imagined as oversized handle grips that can be sat on. Like a fractal, they explore ideas of self-similarity and continuity—each piece is a single loop made up of many other modular arcs.
All photos by Heike Dempster