Shorts, Part III: Jonas Mekas: Walden @ CAM

There are two excellent main exhibitions going on at the Contemporary Art Museum: Emily Wardill’s stained-glass inspired, creepily translation of Middle Age-like communication brought to the film medium is entitled Sick Serena and Dregs and Wreck and Wreck.  And, London-based, Australian artist David Noonan’s solo show incorporates themes of performance through photography, layering and a playful sculpturesque installation in the performance space.  But, if you just have a few more minutes, pop in and see Jonas Mekas’ 34 minute film, Walden in the Front Room. The great thing about the Front Room is that it acts as a gallery-like space within the museum, featuring short exhibitions that work as a kind of experiment in conjunction with the other shows.

Jonas Mekas, still from Walken (DIARIES Notes and Sketches), Part 6, 1969

Walden (DIARIES Notes and Sketches) is part six of a six part series by legendary avant-garde New York filmmaker, Jonas Mekas.  The film shows typical, daily life scenes in counter-culture New York City in the 1960s, from music-box type ice skating shots, to snow challenges, to a bagel breakfast amongst friends.  That said, at first the film might seem mundane, but stick it out: this film, in its refusal of a definitive plot, or narrative is refreshingly un-ordinary, personal, and immediate. Mekas was renowned for innovatively using a diary-like style to give importance and emphasis on the significance of the everyday, or at least the undeniable presence of it.  There is also a scene that includes Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s “bed-in” protest, playing Give Peace a Chance in the background.  This part of the film compliments the all-white, oversize chess set by Yoko Ono entitled Play it by Trust (that you can actually play!) in the museum’s foyer, but does not take away from the extremely personal, strikingly revealing and meditative quailties of the film as a whole.

“Jonas Mekas: Walden” and “Yoko Ono: Play it by Trust” continue at the Contemporary Art Museum on 3750 Washington Boulevard in St. Louis, MO through 9 October 2011. “Emily Wardill” and “David Noonan” continue until 30 December 2011. The museum is free and open Tuesday – Saturday 10-5, Sunday 11-4, and is open late on Thursdays until 8.

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