16MM RUN is an experimental film programme in collaboration with MACRO where the physicality of film and cinema can be relived in the true sense of the word. A selection of feature and short films will be screened on a regular basis in their original 16mm format.16MM RUN is conceived to present a selection of authors and titles out of the mainstream circuits, not easily available or that have rarely been screened in Italy. The programme includes mostly avant-garde and experimental films from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s without following a specific thematic focus. It is a hymn to the physicality of film in a time driven by digital.The screenings will take place in the Sala Cinema at MACRO. Entry at Via Nizza, 138 ― 00198, Rome. No booking required. Free entrance until capacity reached.With the support of Fondazione Dino ed Ernesta Santarelli.
MEREDITH MONK & ROBERT WITHERS, SHIRLEY CLARKE, MARIE MENKEN, MAYA DEREN27 June 2023The eighth event of 16MM RUN focuses on five films made in close collaboration between music and performance and directed by central figures in the art and film scene of the last century: Meredith Monk and Robert Withers (16 Millimeter Earrings, 1979, Turtle Dreams, 1981), Shirley Clarke (Bridges Go Round, 1958), Marie Menken (Arabesque for Kenneth Anger, 1961), Maya Deren (The Very Eye of Night, 1959).Meredith Monk and Robert Withers, 16 Millimeter Earrings, 1979, 25'
Courtesy Robert Whiters, Meredith Monk and NACG/FMCIn 1966, Meredith Monk performed 16 Millimeter Earrings for the first time. She not only choreographed the movement, but also wrote the soundtrack and designed several short film sequences projected during the performance. Robert Withers' film version of 16 Millimeter Earrings documents the reconstruction of the original performance, using most of the original film sequences and sound tapes. With a different arrangement of the score composed by Monk, Withers' filmic interpretation creates a different juxtaposition of sound and image than the original, while still capturing the essence of this seminal work.
Meredith Monk and Robert Withers, Turtle Dreams, 1981, 11'
Courtesy Robert Whiters, Meredith Monk and NACG/FMC.In what initially appears to be a documentary, a turtle emerges from a primeval forest only to find itself traversing a map of the world and end up strolling undisturbed through the desolate streets of a miniature ghost town. Originally produced as a silent film to accompany the performance of Monk's album of the same name, recorded in 1983, Turtle Dreams was directed by Robert Withers.
Shirley Clarke, Bridges Go Round, 1958, 7'
Courtesy Shirley Clarke estate and NACG/FMC.An evocative urban symphony by Shirley Clarke depicting the bridges of New York as a kaleidoscopic succession of vivid abstract images. The film was produced in two versions: the first with electronic music by pioneers Louis and Bebe Barron, the second with jazz composition by Teo Macero, producer-composer of Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. Clarke loved both versions, which were often shown at the same screening: 'It's a wonderful way to watch the film because you can see how the sound changes the content'.
Marie Menken, Arabesque for Kenneth Anger, 1961, 4'
Courtesy Marie Menken estate and NACG/FMC.While traveling through Spain with fellow filmmaker Kenneth Anger in 1958, Marie Menken shot Arabesque for Kenneth Anger in a single day in the gardens of the Alhambra in Granada; a work that remained unfinished and rediscovered only in 2003. Later she added composer Teiji Ito’s soundtrack of classical guitar, castanets, and hand clapping; the percussive rhythm intensifies the alternating flashes of graphic patterning and long panning shots that trace the Moorish buildings’ ornate curvature. Menken’s experimentation with movement was innovative, the filmmaker Stan Brakhage recounted: “This is one of the first films that took full advantage of the enormous freedom of the hand-held camera. In the history of cinema up to that time, Marie’s was the most free-floating hand-held camera short of newsreel catastrophe shots.”
Maya Deren, The Very Eye of Night, 1959, 15'
Courtesy Maya Deren estate and NACG/FMC.The Very Eye of Night was Maya Deren's last film and the longest and most expensive of her career. Filming began in 1952 but the film was completed seven years later, in 1955. The work, made in collaboration with choreographer Antony Tudor, was only released in 1959 with the addition of a soundtrack composed by Teiji Ito. Alternating in a nocturnal choreography, an effect Deren achieved by printing the whole film in negative, the students of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School in New York float in space like dancing cosmic figures. The Very Eye of the Night is in effect a metaphysical visual poem, an ethereal dance focused on spectacle rather than narrative.
JONATHAN MONK4 May 2023, 7pmBITS & PIECES PUT TOGETHER TO PRESENT A SEMBLANCE OF A WHOLE, 2023, 25'
Jonathan Monk, scan of 16mm film The Silent Tornado - For Jack Goldstein, 2003. Courtesy Jonathan Monk StudioProtagonist of the seventh event of 16MM RUN is Jonathan Monk (1969), who will present a new work created for the occasion. Monk is a Berlin-based British artist whose work includes a wide range of media including installations, photography, film, sculpture and performance. His artistic practice often recalls procedural approaches typical of Conceptual and Minimalist strategies of the 1960s and 1970s grounding his conceptual approach with a personal and humorous twist often related to his personal history. Much of his work is gently playful demystifying the creative process and suggesting alternative models for how art and the role of the artist can be re-interpreted.In the early 2000's Monk made a series of short animation films starting from a selection of artist's books, part of his personal collection, among which are books by Sol LeWitt, Richard Long and Gilbert & George. His experimentation with film deals both with the weight of the film camera and the durational element of film itself. For this occasion the artist will present one longer film created from a series of his shorter animations, using rough cuts, fast tempos and eccentric rhythms. The title references a work by Lawrence Weiner made in 2005.
BABETTE MANGOLTE23 February 2023, 7pmWhat Maisie Knew, 1975, 55'
Still from Babette Mangolte’s What Maisie Knew, 1975. Courtesy the artist and New American Cinema GroupBabette Mangolte (1941) is a French-American filmmaker, photographer and writer. Her work has been influenced by the performance and dance scene in New York in the 1970s, working very closely with Trisha Brown and Yvonne Rainer. In an interview, talking about her film Water Motor, Yvonne Rainer said “it was one of the best dance films ever made”. Mangolte has been the director of photography for the seminal works of Chantal Akerman and the filmmaker of Marina Abramovic’s Seven Easy Pieces (2007). Her work around performance is about how you look at what you see and how being a spectator is at the core of performance as an art form.Most of Babette Mangolte’s early work in film, as well as photography, is a self-examination of what it means to be a spectator. Her first narrative film, What Maisie Knew (1975), is made around the subjective camera, the vision of a child, and a re-reading of the Henry James novel. In this work one can observe Mangolte’s references on dance and performance, but the film is also an experiment in narrative filmmaking: it has practically no dialogue, and is made of set situations that repeat, evolve and change featuring among others Kate Manheim, Yvonne Rainer, Jerry Bauman and Philip Glass.Immediately one can see the interest for Mangolte in this 1897 novel whose heroine is depicted like this by James: “She was taken into the confidence of passions on which she fixed just the stare she might have had for images bounding across the wall in the slide of a magic lantern. Her little world was phantasmagoric – strange shadows dancing on a sheet. It was as if the whole performance had been given for her – a mite of a half-sacred infant in a great dim theatre”. Through the book Maisie is both spectator and screen. She survives the family turmoil by becoming a blank surface on which anyone can see what they want, project what they want.The film is shot from the point of view of a child but we never see the child. The child is what the film camera sees.“I felt that the subjectivity of the child permitted me to be looking at something with the kind of astonished bewilderment of someone that doesn’t understand what they were looking at. At first you have the sense that somebody is called Maisie, and at the end you understand that Maisie is a child, in the last scene she is hiding in the closet. The closet door is shut and that is the end.”
STORM DE HIRSCH – CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN17 December 2021, 7pmThe 16MM RUN programme begins on December 17 with the screening of four short films of two essential female figures in the artistic and cinematographic panorama of the last century. These are Storm de Hirsch and Carolee Schneemann.Storm de Hirsch (1912-2000) was an American poet and director, a key figure in the New York avant-garde film scene of the 1960s and a founding member of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, founded in 1962 to distribute avant-garde, experimental and underground films as an alternative to the commercial films on view at the time. Her work has a strong abstract component and makes use of experimental and sophisticated composition techniques.Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019) was an American artist active in the fields of performance, body art and video. Using the body as the prevalent material of her art, she situates women as both the creator and an active part of the creation itself, with a strong feminist imprint that refused the idea of body as an object, considering it instead as a primal, archaic force which could unify energies. Her work is direct, sexual, liberating and autobiographical. Through painting, filmmaking, video art and performance, Schneemann re-writes her personal history of art, refusing the idea of an “his-tory” narrated exclusively from the male point of view.Below are the films scheduled for the first screening:
Divinations by Storm de Hirsch, 1964, 10'
Divinations is the first chapter of Storm de Hirsch’s 1960s trilogy, The Color of Ritual, the Color of Thought. In an interview with Jonas Mekas in which she reflects on the making of Divinations, Storm de Hirsch said: “I wanted badly to make an animated short and had no camera available. I did have some old, unused film stock and several rolls of 16mm sound tape. So I used that—plus a variety of discarded surgical instruments and the sharp edge of a screwdriver—by cutting, etching, and painting directly on both film and [sound] tape”. The result is a hallucinatory, dizzying, and meditative collage of image and sound which attests the artist’s interest in form, color, and process, as well as myth, ritual, and mysticism.
Peyote Queen by Storm de Hirsch, 1965, 10'
Peyote Queen is the second and best-known chapter of the trilogy The Color of Ritual, the Color of Thought. Conceived as a journey through the underworld of sensory derangement, the film’s imagery is abstract, consisting of both live action footage and animated sequences which de Hirsch created by painting and etching directly on the 16mm film stock. Split screens, kaleidoscopic lenses, and abstract animations are used to create a psychedelic effect. The soundtrack consists of African drumming and singing interspersed with American pop music.
In 1963 the US government imposed the legendary Living Theatre in New York to close after missed tax payments during the run of their controversial production The Brig. Jonas Mekas decided to make a film of the production to preserve its brilliance and in-depth dynamism. This took place one night when actors and the rest of the crew broke into the locked theatre which still had inside it all of its confiscated materials. It was on this occasion that Storm De Hirsch made this short newsreel: not only was she able to capture a study of Mekas while he was filming, but she also captured a tension and apprehension of the moment, as well as a sense of panic at the possibility of not being able to finish the film.
This is a silent film of collaged and painted sequences of lovemaking between Schneemann and her then partner, composer James Tenney, from the point of view of her/their cat, Kitch. Her attempt was to reproduce the whole visual and tactile experience of sex as a subjective phenomenon: “I wanted to see if the experience of what I saw would have any correspondence to what I felt, the intimacy of the lovemaking… And I wanted to put into that materiality of film the energies of the body, so that the film itself dissolves and recombines and is transparent and dense, as one feels during lovemaking… It is different from any pornographic work that you’ve ever seen, that’s why people are still looking at it! And there’s no objectification or fetishization of the woman”.
JACK SMITH18 February 2022, 7pmNormal Love by Jack Smith, 1963, 120'
Courtesy of Jack Smith Archive and Gladstone Gallery, New York and BrusselsThe event appointment of the programme offers a screening of the experimental film project Normal Love, shot in 1963 by the American filmmaker and artist Jack Smith (1932 – 1989), an unconventional artist who provocatively spanned the territory between the world of Hollywood and underground culture.Made by Smith after the censorship of his film Flaming Creatures, which caused scandal due to its sexual content, Normal Love is a highly experimental work whose production was supported by Jonas Mekas. The film became a source of inspiration for other creators such as Federico Fellini, who mentioned it as an influence on his Satyricon.Taking the genre of horror films from the 1930s and 1940s as a reference point, Smith set Normal Love in a fantasy world, an Atlantis packed with pink and green pastel hues. “Rubens. Arabian Nights. Chinese masters. Monet”, Mekas remarked after seeing the first rushes.Shot on elaborate, evocative and dreamy sets, including a giant cake designed by the artist Claes Oldenburg, Normal Love is a riotous combination of Dionysian debauchery and kitsch horror. In the universe of Normal Love we see a variety of exotic creatures, portrayed by personalities and friends from the artist’s entourage, in a sort of “fantasy-reality” that captures freedom of imagination: from the mermaid played by Mario Montez, whose stage name is a tribute to the Dominican actress Maria Montez, to the mummy played by Angus MacLise, drummer of the Velvet Underground. The cast of the film, in addition to Smith as a magician, includes Diana Bacchus, David Sachs, Beverly Grant, Naomi Levie, Francis Francine, Tony Conrad, Tiny Tim, Sheila Bick, Eliot Cukor, John Vaccaro, John Adler, Diane Di Prima, Arnold Rockwood, Teddy Howard, Johnny Foster, Stanley Alboum, Alain Marlowe, Pat Oldenburg e Andy Warhol.The film was left intentionally unfinished by the artist: its editing was left open as an act of rebellion against the commodification of art, preventing any form of censorship. Smith showed the film in different forms, often in performative screenings that required his presence, during which he varied the musical accompaniment, utilizing records from his collection.
JOSÉ RODRÍGUEZ-SOLTERO29 April 2022, 7pmLupe by José Rodríguez-Soltero, 1966, 49'
Courtesy of The Film-Makers' Cooperative, New York
The third event presents a screening of José Rodríguez-Soltero’s Lupe (1966), an underground classic of the stature of Flaming Creatures, Scorpio Rising, Hold me While I’m Naked, or The Chelsea Girls.Strangely neglected for way too long, the film is ostensibly a biopic of Lupe Velez inspired by Kenneth Anger’s sketch of the “Mexican spitfire” in Hollywood Babylon and, stylistically, by Von Sternberg’s Marlene Dietrich vehicles.Rodríguez-Soltero takes some liberties with the facts and produces a color-saturated, gorgeous dime-store baroque that tells of Lupe’s rise from whoredom to stardom, her fall into fractured romance and suicide, and her ascension into the spirit world. It is consistently inventive and surprising, and wrapped in a dense soundtrack that combines, Elvis, Cuban boleros, Spanish flamenco, The Supremes, and Vivaldi. It features some of the main players of the Ridiculous Theatrical Playhouse (Charles Ludlam plays a keen lesbian seducer and Lola Pashalinsky, Lupe’s maid). Mario Montez never looked better; no wonder this was his favorite film. Whether they know it or not, Pedro Almodavar, Vivienne Dick, and Bruce LaBruce have a grandfather in Jose Rodriguez Soltero. –Juan Suarez.
JAMES BENNING27 May 2022, 7pm11 x 14 by James Benning, 1976, 83'
Courtesy Canyon Cinema, San Francisco
The fourth event presents a screening of 11 x 14 shot in 1976 by James Benning, establishing him as an important contributor to American independent cinema and as a representative of the “New Narrative Movement”. 11 x 14 is Benning’s first feature-length film announcing the arrival of a radical new voice in the evolution of moving image art, and remains a landmark of the American avant-garde. Composed of 65 beautifully framed shots of provincial life and suburban domesticity, this 16mm-shot travelogue of the Midwestern United States advanced notions of structuralist cinema while forming a visual tapestry of the American heartland in all its rugged glory.The film captures the iconography of this region through repeated images and sounds of trucks and interstate highways, billboards and elevated trains, and silos and bales of hay. Protagonists frequently interact in the background of the image and their dialogue is deliberately muffled so that their motivations are obscured. 11 x 14 points toward the creation of a new, nonliterary but populist cinema.In films like 11 x 14 and One Way Boogie Woogie, Benning combines the structural analysis of image, sound and narrative with auto-biographical traces, as well as with an almost “classical” interest in composition, color, light and landscape.The places in Benning’s early films were midwestern, he himself grew up in Milwaukee; this gave notice that the so-called cinematic flyover zone—the territory between the centers of film production in New York and California—could not only be the focus of interesting work but nurtured an important avant-garde filmmaker. Later, Benning would move to New York City and then on to California (where he began teaching at CalArts in 1987), expanding his horizons while continuing to make a film every year or two. Given the considerable body of work he has created and the intense focus on place in so many of his best films—including 13 Lakes (2004), Ten Skies (2004), and RR (2007)—it now seems fair to say that Benning has become the foremost filmmaker of the American landscape.
His work has always been challenging. 11 x 14 and One Way Boogie Woogie were made in the aftermath of Andy Warhol’s long slow films and of the “structural films” that followed. Warhol and Michael Snow, Ken Jacobs, Ernie Gehr, J. J. Murphy, and others used extended duration and repetitive structures to contest not only the commercial cinema and its reliance on conventional narrative but also the various forms of personally expressive cinema that had dominated the 1950s and early ’60s film avant-garde—most obviously, the work of Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger, and Jack Smith. Benning’s roots in structural film have remained evident throughout his career and have informed his filmmaking in a variety of ways.
ALFREDO LEONARDI8 October 2022, 7pmLibro di Santi di Roma Eterna, 1968, 14'Le N ragazze più belle di piazza Navona, 1968, 11'Organum Multiplum, 1967, 14'Living & Glorious, 1965, 20'On the occasion of the Giornata del Contemporaneo, Villa Lontana in collaboration with MACRO will screen a series of short films related to the city of Rome by Italian director, producer and photographer Alfredo Leonardi (Voghera, 1938).Alfredo Leonardi is considered one of the protagonists of Italian underground cinema. In the 1960s he collaborated with the Italian Living Theatre. From 1964 he devoted himself to experimental cinema: Living & Glorious (1965) and Se l’inconscio si ribella (1968) were his best-known short films, while Amore, amore (1966), the only full-length film ever made, of which Leonardi personally directed and edited, premiered at the Pesaro Film Festival in 1967. From the 1970s he worked for television and at the same time produced and directed documentary films such as Policlinico in lotta (1973) and Carcere in Italia (1973). His sensitivity for social issues also emerges in the following Lottando la vita – Lavoratori italiani a Berlino (1975).Alfredo Leonardi always considered himself as a poet of film instead of a narrator, constructing his images in a poetic way. For Leonardi seeing is a way of thinking, his filming is fragmentary and instinctive. In an interview with Valentino Zeichen and Paolo Brunatto, Leonardi affirms to feel extremely connected with the God Apollo. In Ancient Rome, the 7th of each month was sacred to the god. Leonardi was born on 7 September and this - for him - is a natural Apollonian component that he feels deeply connected to, also defining his aesthetic approach to film.