Underground Film Journal

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Microscope Gallery: We Are Cinema: 50 Years Of The Film-Makers’ Coop

By Mike Everleth ⋅ February 7, 2012

Drawing of a microscope

Feb. 11
5:00 p.m.
Microscope Gallery
4 Charles Place
Brooklyn, NY 11221

Hosted by: Microscope Gallery

Throughout the month of February, Brooklyn’s Microscope Gallery will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of NYC’s Film-makers’ Cooperative, the oldest and largest artist-run coop in the world. While the opening reception for this special exhibit will be at 7:00 p.m. on Feb. 11, at 5:00 p.m. will be a special screening of rare 16mm films by the legendary Jack Smith.

Ironically, Smith would probably be furious about this special event if he were still alive, thanks to his severe falling out with the Coop’s founder Jonas Mekas. But, with several new 16mm prints of many of his “lost” films, this event promises to be one of the premiere avant-garde screenings of 2012. So, screw Jack. The films that will be screening are: Respectable Creatures, Song for Rent, Hot Air Specialists, Overstimulated, Scotch Tape, and Yellow Sequence.

Mekas and current Coop director MM Serra will introduce the films.

The We Are Cinema exhibition that will be on display until March 5 will include paintings, drawings and other artworks from Coop members past and present. Lots of wonderful archival materials will also be on display, such as early documents, posters, catalogues and historical sound recordings.

In addition, there will be future screenings of films by Ken Jacobs (2/18), Jonas Mekas (2/25) and a group show of recent Coop additions (3/4).

For a bit of historical background, on Jan. 7, 1962, Mekas called for a meeting of around 20 underground filmmakers, including Smith, to discuss new distribution methods for their work. Running with the ball mostly by himself, Mekas officially founded the Coop later that same year, initially running it out of his own loft for the first five years.

The Coop has had several different homes throughout the years, but is currently housed at 475 Park Avenue South in a space donated by real estate magnate Charles Cooper. (The Coop pays a symbolic $1 rent per year.)

Coop members who will have artwork in the We Are Cinema exhibition include Robert Breer, Rudy Burckhardt, Martha Colburn, Su Friedrich, Ken Jacobs, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Takahiko Iimura, Jeanne Liotta, Jonas Mekas, Jennifer Reeves, Barbara Rubin, Carolee Schneemann, MM Serra, Jack Smith, and others.

Seating for the screening events is limited, so please RSVP via the Microscope Gallery website.

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