born 1922 Semeniškiai, Lithuania, lives and works in New York, USA
Forces of time, memory, and change collide in Jonas Mekas’s compelling work Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR (2008). The work’s title refers to the historical time when the world watched as Jonas’s home country of Lithuania fought for independence from the stronghold of Soviet rule. With a video camera, Jonas, who has often been called “the godfather of American avant-garde cinema,” recorded newscasts that played daily in 1991 on his television set at home.
“The video is made up of footage that I took with my Sony from the television newscasts during the collapse of the USSR, with the home noises in the background. It’s a capsule of record of what happened and how it happened during that crucial period as recorded by the television newscasters. It can be viewed as a classic Greek drama in which the destinies of nations are changed drastically by the unbending, bordering on irrational will of one single man (Vytautas Landsbergis). One small nation determined to regain its freedom, backed by its fight against Might and Power, against the Impossible.” Jonas Mekas
Stills from Jonas Mekas
Lithuania and the collapse of the USSR, 2008
Video, Color, Sound, 286 min
Courtesy of the artist