Category: News

Film Comment Review

Film Comment has published the first review of Flare Out: Aesthetics 1966–2016 in its July/August 2016 issue. Jordan Cronk’s enthusiastic response to the book concludes that Gidal’s prose is “as dense, complex, and harmonically composed as any the field has produced.”

Referencing the first publication from The Visible Press, the review draws parallels with Gregory Markopoulos, whose dictum “Film as Film” was also, coincidentally, used by Gidal in his own writing.

Gidal responds:-

thanks for the lovely review by jordan cronk, just a note about fim as film, which does not reference the work or writings of gregory markopoulos … when writing my piece “film as film” (not reprinted in my flare out: aesthetics 1966-2016)  around 1972 for the artists film issue of Art and Artists, i had thought the phrase was of my invention, due to ignorance of the many others who used that phrase from the 1920s onwards … in any case, gregory m. once phoned me in london in the late 1970s in a fury about the use of the term for an exhibition at the hayward gallery and also at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, organized by Wilhelm and Birgit Hein and others, in any case i said gregory before you blame only them i have to tell you i wrote a piece called that in the early 70s not aware of your use of the term and he said oh that’s ok peter, but this exhibition is an outrage etc etc … so somehow i was exempted. but this note just to say it doesnt reference anything but my own ideas (which of course don’t exist in a vacuum). and to thank film comment for the kind review. the visible press will no doubt echo beckett’s “7 copies sold, 3 at trade discount”.

Gidal’s text “Film as Film”, which originally appeared in the December 1972 issue of Art and Artists, will be reprinted in “Shoot Shoot Shoot: The First Decade of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative 1966-76”, due to be published by LUX in October 2016.

Temenos 2016

Outdoor Screenings in Arcadia, 1-3 July 2016

The premiere of ENIAIOS cycles IX -XI by Gregory J. Markopoulos will take place on July 1, 2, and 3 outside the village of Lyssarea in Arcadia. Temenos Archive has restored these next three film orders of Markopoulos’s 80-hour, silent, 16mm film ENIAIOS; the restoration has been a delicate and time-consuming process similar to the restoration of a monumental mosaic or fresco.

Each cycle of ENIAIOS is composed of mythic themes, film portraits, and films of place. His extraordinarily complex editing and individual use of color transport the spectator and help them to reflect on complex emotions within a meditative vision. It is an immersive experience that unlocks distinct and individual qualities for each spectator.

In the three ENIAIOS cycles to be shown this year, there are portraits of the Greek painters Nikos Hadtzkiriakos Ghika and Yannis Tsarouchis; writers Pahndelis Prevelakis, Lilika Nakou, and Patricia Highsmith; and other personalities such as Nina Kandinsky and Catherine Gide. The films of place include the archeological sites of Mycenae, Dodona, Delphi, and the Archontika Spitia in Siatista.

The original meaning of the term TEMENOS is ‘a piece of land set apart.’ Markopoulos chose the site near Lyssarea as the ideal place for his spectators’ aesthetic quest. Deeply imbued with Hellenic culture, his films gain their most powerful impact in this setting. He associated the experience of viewing ENIAIOS to the ancient Greek god of medicine, Asclepius. The premiere screenings on July 1, 2 and 3 will be held at the setting of the sun, approximately 21:45, and vary in length between two and three hours.

Linda Levinson will exhibit photographs taken at the 2008 and 2012 Temenos screenings in the Lyssarea Community Offices.

Film as Film: The Collected Writings of Gregory J. Markopoulos will be available for purchase.

Tim Cawkwell on Peter Gidal

Reviews of “Flare Out” and its launch at Tate Britain

Filmmaker and writer Tim Cawkwell has reviewed both the book Flare Out: Aesthetics 1966-2016 and its launch event in two separate blog posts.

“Unlike Joyce, he does not opt for the mellifluity of nonsense, or rather seeming nonsense, but instead for the pleasure of spikiness. His music is of the sharply modern plink-plunk kind rather than the seductions of melody and harmony. Yet it does keep you reading.”

The book review is online at Tim Cawkwell’s Cinema and his observations of the screening at Tate Britain on 14 April 2016 are here.

New Kurt Kren Book

Passages of Peter Gidal’s writings (excerpted from Materialist Film) appear in a new volume on Kurt Kren, published by Intellect Books and edited by Nicky Hamlyn, Simon Payne, and A. L. Rees.

Kurt Kren: Structural Films is a 298 page book that collects together interviews, film scores, new and out of print texts on the work of the Austrian filmmaker. A screening and book launch takes place at Close-Up Film Centre on Monday 30 May 2016.

“A series of quick cuts resulting in short bursts of half-second film movements, in Kurt Kren’s Trees in Autumn (Bäume im Herbst) (Austria, 1960) can instigate a specific one to one relation rather than becoming a variegated jumble of images or an impressionistic haze. Bit such a process as in this film forces the viewer to make of the possible jumble of images discreen and separate segments. The process of the film demands a disruption of the  ‘normal’ cultural codes of viewing. Each shot becomes analysed and examined during the viewing, simultaneous to the moment to moment shock of each suceeding half-second ‘flash’.” (Peter Gidal)

Malcolm Le Grice on Peter Gidal

“Some Introductory Notes on Gidal’s Films and Theory” (1979)

My work and Gidal’s has frequently been bracketed together, most recently under the term Structural/Materialist (a Gidal formulation) – the bracketing being applied equally to the films and theoretical writing. This double harness has caused us both some problems, obscuring the differences between our work; none the less, with the level that the public critical debate has reached, I would rather have my position confused with his than with any other film-maker. Which is to say, as the lines are drawn to date, in spite of our differences, there are considerable areas of agreement between us. In the strict sense, we have never developed a joint position nor presented any co-operative manifesto, but we have had many long conversations over the last decade which have influenced the development of our positions considerably.

It would be impossible to trace the path of those discussions, the effects of which have become incorporated in our work, but it is partly to develop some of the thoughts which have passed between us recently that I am writing this introduction. As Gidal pointed out when he asked me if I would do it, I have never written on his work at any length (nor he on mine for that matter) – though we have been publicists for each other. I could not let this preamble pass without pointing out that if the fact of film-makers writing on each others’ films seems a little incestuous – before cries of nepotism – if some of the critics in this country had spent a little more time on the current British film culture we could have spent more of our time on film and theory and less on publicity, reviewing and polemics.

Our most general area of collaboration, which I will not dwell on, has concerned the development of the working context for experimental film. We have both been deeply committed to establishing conditions for production, presentation and distribution of independent film in a pattern radically different from that of the dominant film industry. Gidal, like myself and a number of other avant-garde filmmakers, has put a considerable amount of time into these issues through entirely practical and frequently mundane tasks mainly within the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative, but also within the Independent Filmmakers’ Association and on committees in the British Film Institute.

Our most general area of agreement has been a deep hostility to the way in which international capitalist corporations have controlled the development of film culture and the effect this has had on the predominant assumptions about film structure. This hostility has been expressed variously as an opposition to narrative, illusionism, identification, catharsis and so on. As the dialogue between Gidal and myself has become more sophisticated, some of the approaches to these oppositions have differed in detail, but the underlying resistance to compromise with the forms and mechanisms of dominant cinema remains common. If my own recent films have related themselves overtly to the problems of narration, identification and cinematic illusion, it is because I have encountered them (perhaps in error) as a consequence of the direction of my work.

Gidal has maintained a more distinctly oppositional stance, certainly at the level of theory, frequently expressed in the prefix ‘anti-’ (anti-narrative, anti-illusion), and while his films would seem to maintain this opposition into their construction, they are more problematic in this territory than the diametric rhetoric would suggest. On the other hand, his major theoretical work, the “Theory and Definition of Structural/Materialist Film” and its extensive footnotes, traces many of the difficulties and complexities this oppositional enterprise encounters.

To deal with Gidal, it is necessary to consider both his work as a film-maker and a theorist. He has referred to Althusser to support the independence of the two practices and he has further pointed out how historically there have regularly been discrepancies between artists’ work and their theorisations and rationalisations. Whatever the independence, one from the other (and it is clear that they are distinguishable discourses), in Gidal’s case they should be related to each other. Not only does the theory seem to address some of the films’ problems quite accurately, but he has particularly encouraged through the form of presentation of his work, that the achievement of the films, as it were, be tested against those aims defined in the theory.

If we were concerned with a general review of Gidal’s work, then like with any other artist, his early films would be seen to contain many of the initial issues which become more clearly reworked later. However, without dismissing his earlier work, it is possible to encounter the most pertinent problems which he raises through reference to a few more recent films and his major theoretical text “Theory and Definition of Structural/Materialist Film” (Studio International, November 1975). Any one of Bedroom (1971), Room Film 1973, Film Print (1974), Condition of Illusion (1975), Fourth Wall (1978), or Silent Partner (1977), can be studied and related to his major theoretical article, and while they are all different works in detail, their concerns are remarkably consistent.

Excerpted from the opening section of “Some Introductory Notes on Gidal’s Films and Theory” (1979) by Malcolm Le Grice. Originally commissioned for the BFI’s Independent Cinema Documentation File No. 1: Peter Gidal (November 1979), later republished in Millennium Film Journal No. 13 (Fall 1983) and Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age (BFI, 2001).