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Avant Gardening

Film/Video

Bouquets 1–10
Image courtesy of Canyon Cinema
Avant Gardening
Thu, Apr 22, 2010 7 PM
It’s late April and thoughts of gardening are in full bloom. To celebrate the season and cultivate ecological awareness for Earth Day, we’ve gathered up these experimental films that take on gardens, plants, and all things green.

Bursting with life, color, and love of filmmaking, tonight’s program includes short works from a number of notable filmmakers, including Stan Brakhage, Marie Menken, and others. (program app. 76 mins., 16mm and 35mm)

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Here’s the initial program, which itself may change as we near the event. Titles are listed alphabetically, not in final screening order.


31/75: Asyl (Asylum)
(Kurt Kren, 1975)
16mm, 8.5 mins.
Kurt Kren visualizes the “impossible” intersection of the seasons in one image.

All My Life
(Bruce Baillie, 1966)
16mm, 3 mins.
One shot, early summer in Mendocino. Song: “All My Life,” by Ella Fitzgerald with Tedd Wilson and his Orchestra.

Bouquets 1–10
(Rose Lowder, 1994–95)
16mm, 11 mins.
Each of these ten one-minute films offers a bouquet of flowers that is also a bouquet of frames, mingling the plants that are found in a given place with the activities that happen to be going on there at the time.

Discoveries on the Forest Floor (1–3)
(Charlotte Pryce, 2007)
16mm, 4.5 mins.
Three miniature, illuminated, heliographic studies of plants, observed and imagined.

for them ending
(Jonathan Schwartz, 2005)
16mm, 3 mins.
Jonathan Schwartz describes the film as showing “…the nature of the season, moving forward with growth or death or growth. Or was I wondering how to make New England fall colors linger so if you couldn’t visit soon the yellow oranges and reds would still be waiting for you.”

The Garden of Earthly Delights
(Stan Brakhage, 1981)
35mm, 2.5 mins.
This film is a collage composed entirely of vegetation from the montane zone (the cool forest slopes below timberline). As the title suggests, it is an homage to (but also an argument with) Hieronymous Bosch. It pays tribute as well, and more naturally, to “The Tangled Garden” of J. E. H. MacDonald and the flower paintings of Emil Nolde.

Glimpse of the Garden
(Marie Menken, 1957)
16mm, 5 mins.
“Marie’s films were her flower garden. Whenever she was in her garden, she opened her soul, with all her secret wishes and dreams. Marie was one of the first filmmakers to improvise with the camera and edit while shooting. She filmed with her entire body, her entire nervous system. You can feel Marie behind every image.”—Jonas Mekas

Precarious Garden
(Ernie Gehr, 2004)
16mm, 13 mins.
“In Ernie Gehr’s short film Precarious Garden, flowers bop and weave and bow to the camera, teasing us with beauty. Set almost entirely inside a lushly inviting yard, amid patches of bright green lawn, thickets of tree limbs and splashes of purple, pink and orange flowers, this hypnotic 13-minute film carves a miniature world of wonder from a seemingly quotidian setting, a true secret garden from what to ordinary eyes might look like any other yard…”—Manohla Dargis, New York Times

Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis
(Daïchi Saïto, 2009)
35mm, 10 mins.
The second collaboration between filmmaker Daïchi Saïto and composer/violinist Malcolm Goldstein, this film explores familiar landscape imagery that Saïto and Goldstein share in their neighborhood at the foot of Mount-Royal Park in Montreal, Canada. Using images of maple trees in the park as the main visual motif, Saïto creates a film in which the formations of the trees and their subtle interrelation with the space around to transform the viewer’s sensorial perception of the space portrayed. Entirely hand-processed by the filmmaker, Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis is a poem of vision and sound (the contrapuntal violin of Goldstein) that seeks perceptual insight and revelation through a structure based on patterns, variations, and repetitions.

Works and Days
(Hollis Frampton, 1969)
16mm, 12 mins.
“I bought this film in a Canal Street junk shop for $1.00 and I found myself in complete agreement with it. The ostensible pretext is the humane and practical discipline of making a vegetable garden (hence the title, borrowed from Hesiod). The gardeners are masters of their art, so that their work blossoms into overarching metaphor. I have attached my logo to the film, not to claim it as a ready-made, but in the spirit of Chinese connoisseurs who affixed their vermillion seals to paintings as a mark of admiration.”—Hollis Frampton