Ken Jacobs in Brussels!


“you want to pose questions to your viewer. Cinema creates an experience for its viewers and many people come to depend on the experiences provided them by the movies. Most movies are coherent. They are fairy tales that lead to something. Movies have resolutions. Many people live at the movies and tolerate fumbling through their real lives. Life is different; it does not seem to lead to anything. It’s diffuse, yet infinitely penetrable. So, the difference is between a cinema that is a cooked, or organized experience, and one that encourages viewers to reflect and have their own experiences. The difference is between living through the movies and using the movies to enrich your critical engagement with life and the real world. One is an experience that dominates while the other condemns you to be free.”

We’re very happy and proud to have Ken and Flo Jacobs over this weekend. For more than 40 years, drawing on his skills as an imaginative illusionist, a workman-like tinkerer, and a worshipper of film frame by frame, film artist Ken Jacobs, together with his wife and collaborator Flo, has confronted reality and unmasked established powers. He creates, through his art, disorienting experiences which strangely empower the viewer. Combining elements of comedy, tragedy, history and mystery, his artistry connects the viewers with their feelings, their visual faculties, and most importantly, with experience.

You can find an interesting video interview with Ken here


At Argos, on Saturday, we’re showing his Magnus Opus, Star Spangled to Death. With a running time of 6 hours and 42 minutes, it’s a truly amazing piece of art, that won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Douglas Edwards Experimental/Independent
Film/Video Award 2004, amongst other things. Ken writes about it:

“STAR SPANGLED TO DEATH is an epic film shot for hundreds of dollars! combining found-films with my own more-or-less staged filming, it pictures a stolen and dangerously sold-out America, allowing examples of popular culture to self-indict. Racial and religious insanity, monopolization of wealth and the purposeful dumbing down of citizens and addiction to war oppose a Beat playfulness.

A handful of artists costumed and performing unconvincingly appeal to audience imagination and understanding to complete the picture. Jack Smith’s pre-FLAMING CREATURES performance as The Spirit Not Of Life But Of Living (the movie has raggedly cosmic pretensions), celebrating Suffering (rattled impoverished artist Jerry Sims) at the crux of sentient existence, is a visitation of the divine.”

He talks about this film in an interview for Logos Journal
You can find some short clips on his site

Before the screening, Mark Webber (an independent curator of avant-garde / experimental / artists’ film and video (he used to play guitar with the band Pulp as well), who has compiled and organised some amazing programmes th elast couple oy years) will interview Ken Jacobs about his life and work.


“Spectacular spaces orbit through unthinkable transformations as seen from changing angles of view. A path of cinema never before traveled, deep 3-D without spectacles or special screens, available even to the one-eyed. Performed by way of a down-to-the-bones projection device, light source, and cooling fan, lens and spinning shutter, it is hands-on projection with the morphing, the equivalent of a Jackson Pollock and then some, that could have been made to happen before the invention of film and film transport devices. That could have happened before Muybridge, had minds been ready.”

On Sunday, Ken will perform one of his Nervous Magic Lantern performances. We have seen a couple of them, and believe us, the experience is really unique. Watch a few examples here, but keep in mind that the resolution, when screened, is really out of this world. Note: This performance (with a live soundtrack by John Zorn and Ikue Mori) is available on DVD on the Tzadik label.

For the Brussels performance we asked Aki Onda to do the performance, as we think there are a lot of similarities in the way they work. Aki will perform one of his Cassette Memories (buy, rip or download his amazing albums Ancient & Modern and Bon Voyage!) – a sort of site-specific performance or ritual that “conjures up the general essence of memory as I play my own personal memories. It is an event that is partly visible, but seen mostly in one’s imagination.” A perfect match, if you ask us.

read more about Aki on his homepage, and watch (or rather listen to) a part of one of his Cassette Memories performances here: