In celebration of Jonas Mekas's 90th birthday on the 24 December, the Serpentine Gallery invited his friends, collaborators and supporters to send messages, notes and short videos to mark the occasion.
This is what we received:
Films from Charlemagne Palestine, Tessa Hughes-Freeland, Ken Jacobs and Malcolm Le Grice
A message from Yoko Ono:
From the day Jonas Mekas walked into (entered) America from the nowhere land he escaped from (as he titled his book of poetry), the concept of the Film World changed in the Country and in the World. He was a wind of a one man revolution. And still is. His vision and his courage made us avant-garde film-makers visible to the world. Without his tireless work, which he believed in, avant-garde film-makers would not have existed in the eyes of the people. What he did for the film world was equivalent to what John Cage did for the music world at the time. It is these geniuses who allowed us to push the world a step further into the future.
- Yoko Ono
A film from David Ellis and Simon Tyszko:
A poem and photograph from Gerard Malanga:
"It's 3:15, you're late!" ushering me into the dark hallway of the flat.
I can't remember where. It's years now. We sat
her mum beside her as we rocked on sherry straight
and told me tales and showed me Ansco-colored snaps
of Tom vacationing Bermuda
sallow like the sand surrounding him
and smiling awkwardly. Who knows
what that smile revealed, not looking back beyond decline
years from when they met. A long line
of hopefuls in the chill. The interview at Faber for that job
would take her far and far beyond those years,
and all for that one faked broken arm.
The plaster cast won him over nonetheless,
revealing no less a truth professed
when she became keeper of the flame.
Tom's books in the next room consumed by the same
embers listened in. A chilly air. A draughty street. It's getting late.
- Gerard Malanga, 2011
A message from Marina Warner:
Thank you for keeping film alive as a poetic language, for continuing to weave light and time, and for looking after the works of so many others, who would have been lost otherwise. Congratulations on your long life, and praise to your courage, vision, and independence.
- Marina Warner
Films from John Waters and Rosa Barba:
And a letter from Peter Gidal:
As you'll recall I told you in 1969 that from your publication on AW I stole all the bibliographic info and you were so generous about it all. And I remember at NFT (London) in '71 you laughing after telling a story of someone in '64 throwing up during Brakhage's "Window Water" and me letting you know "Das war ich." (It was I) thereby at least causing one pleasurable moment amongst those shared....
Hopefully more, as well, as you've shared more than a few.
Happy Birthday Jonas 2012
To Jonas Mekas 2012
Jonas Mekas In Kodachrome Days 2012
Malcolm Le Grice
for the benefit of Mr K 1995
critical moment one 2004
1min 19 sec
water lilies after monet 2008
David Ellis and Simon Tyszko
Gerard Malanga and Andy Warhol
Jonas Mekas Screen Test 1964
from Screen Tests/A Diary
© 1967 Gerard Malanga
John Waters on Jonas Mekas 2012
1min 43 sec