Feb 23rd 2023

Jonas Mekas: Open Archives

@ Mana Contemporary Chicago

2233 S Throop St, Chicago, IL 60608

Opening Thursday, February 23rd, from 6PM - 8PM

On view through Friday, January 26th

Monira Foundation proudly presents Jonas Mekas, Open Archives, a year-long exhibit at Mana Contemporary Chicago featuring artifacts, items, and memorabilia from Mekas’ personal archives.

Since March 2020 Open Archives has sent out a weekly digital release offering a glimpse into the personal archives of Jonas Mekas. Every item shared was selected by Sebastian Mekas, Director of the Jonas Mekas Studio, with the goal of keeping the studio practice alive and showing its long-term relevance through its diaristic and meticulously cataloged collections of artwork, artifacts, and other materials.

An open archive presumes a veritable archive. That of Jonas Mekas comprises more than eight decades of collected material of the famed filmmaker, poet, and impresario of the avant-garde.

Widely recognized as one of the foremost pioneers of diaristic cinema – a practice now soundly established with the near-ubiquitous presence of YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram stories and reels – more than that, Mekas also maintained a physical record of what he witnessed. A diverse body of material that spans from his departure from his native Lithuania and arrival in New York and early ‘50s encounters with luminaries of the Beat generation, to ‘60s censorship defiance that led him to jail and his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and fast-forwarding, all the way up until the 2010s with his relentless writing, doodling, traveling and his embrace of all the new technologies of our present day.

The hundred or so items presented publicly for the first time – photographs, manifestos, scribbles, poems, and faxes, as well as clippings, tchotchkes, and working tools – broadly expand the understanding of this cultural figure as well as the many decades of shifting Zeitgeist through which he moved.

Monira Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution, functions as a radical experimental laboratory, working in close collaboration with artists, curators, musicians, dancers, producers, and writers to conceive, realize, and present innovative projects in all media. Its aim is to spark, intensify, and promote an evolving cultural and social dialogue between creators, audiences, and institutions. Focusing on the unique potential of interdisciplinary work in a context distinct from the distracting pressures of academia and the market, Monira Foundation advances the practices and products of today’s foremost artists, amplifying their contributions to communities both local and distant.


Image: Jonas preparing potato pancakes, following the recipe of his mother. Monira Foundation Open Archives #11

Image: Jonas preparing potato pancakes, following the recipe of his mother.

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