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P. Adams Sitney will hold a conference invited by EQZE

The widely regarded american historian will ilustrate his 50 experience with a selection of short films from 1968 to 1998



Considered the main historian about avant-garde cinema, P. Adams Sitney founded the Anthology Film Archives in 1970 with Jonas Mekas, Peter Kubelka, Jerome Hill and Stan Brakhage

Since he brought the New American Cinema Exposition to Europe in 1963, P. Adams Sitney has curated hundreds of programmes on avant-garde American cinema, to the point that he has become one of the great prophets of independent experimental cinema. Many of the concepts, ideas and theories that now help us to understand the cinema of the second half of the 20th century, such as the definition of “structural cinema”, emerged from the work he has carried out as a scholar, critic and curator for more than 50 years. His book Visionary Film (Oxford University Press, 1974) was actually a visionary work in itself and today is still considered to be the standard text on American avant-garde cinema.

Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola has suggested that the specialist should choose an ideal programme that might illustrate his 50 years as a programmer, curator, critic and spectator. The result is, at the same time, a crash course in experimental cinema, and an autobiographical overview of the life of an essential figure in contemporary cinema and an anthology of the very best experimental cinema, with films from 1968 to 1998.

The conference, organized with Tabakalera, Punto de Vista and Museo Reina Sofía, will take place at Tabakalera (Z Hall), on 13 March at 19:00. The access will be free until full capacity.


A Half-Century of Showing Avant-garde Cinema

His talk will range chronologically from the early period of program designed to entertain and titillate audiences to filmmaker specific programing and the foundation of a canon at Anthology Film Archives.

It will also cover the critical reaction to canon formation (especially by feminists), the arguments for celluloid projection (rather than digital screenings), and the internal history of the American avant-garde cinema by which filmmakers extend, reverse, and challenge their predecessors.

The program is the following:

1. Bells of Atlantis, Ian Hugo (USA, 1952, 10 min.)

2. Eaux D’Artifice, Kenneth Anger (USA, 1953, 13 min.)

3. The Dead, Stan Brakhage (USA, 1960, 11 min.)

4. Arabesque for Kenneth Anger, Marie Menken (USA, 1961, 4 min.)

5. The Riddle of Lumen, Stan Brakhage (USA, 1972, 13 min.)

6. Shift, Ernie Gehr (USA, 1974, 9 min.)

7. Variations, Nathaniel Dorsky (USA, 1988, 24 min.)

Except for the first one, the films will be projected in 16 mm. prints.


Short biography

Widely regarded as the leading historian of avant-garde cinema, P. Adams Sitney (1944, Connecticut) attended Yale University. He co-founded the Anthology Film Archives in 1970 and, along with Jonas Mekas, Peter Kubelka, Ken Kelman and James Broughton, served as one of the members of the Anthology Film Archives Essential Cinema selection committee.

Sitney was a fixture in New York University's doctoral programme in the new Cinema Studies Department in 1970. Before moving to Princeton, he also taught at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He has been a major critical leader and intellectual supporter of the New American Cinema avant-garde movement.

He is the author of Visionary Film: The American Avant Garde (Oxford University Press; first edition 1974, subsequent editions 1979 and 2002), Modernist Montage: The Obscurity of Vision in Cinema and Literature (Columbia University Press, 1990), Vital Crises in Italian Cinema: Iconography, Stylistics, Politics (University of Texas Press, 1995, revised edition published by Oxford University Press, 2013), and The Cinema of Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2015), and the editor of Metaphors on Vision by Stan Brakhage (1963), Film Culture Reader (1970), The Essential Cinema: Essays on the Films in the Collection of Anthology Film Archives (1975), Avant-Garde Film: A Reader of Theory and Criticism (1978) and The Gaze of Orpheus and Other Literary Essays by Maurice Blanchot (1981).

Pictures: © UnionDocs (Center for Documentary Art)