September 3, 2019 0

Discussing American Avant-Garde Films

Discussing American Avant-Garde Films


Avant-garde film is one of several terms that have been used historically to describe a kind of filmmaking that is not at all related to the film industry, but where film is being viewed as artistic material. It’s very much, other piece with visual art making and yet it also has relationships to performance, to music. It comes out of a culture that was interested in ideas, interesting in expressing ideas, but also crossing boundaries, blurring boundaries. In the world of experimental or avant-garde film, there’s generally the feeling that there may be a lot more openness or a lot fewer rules about what constitutes a film. And in some ways that can lead to maybe some really bad films, but it’s also led to some really incredible works of art. Avant-garde films are usually made by one person, who invents new ways of seeing and listening to the world by using the camera and sound recording by themselves and it is a kind of cinema that has always had its place on the border, let’s say, between regular cinema, the film industry and the art world on the other hand. Artists who wanted to make work, that couldn’t be confined to two dimensions, couldn’t be defined to a flat space. So there’s a whole history, I call it “painting by other means,” a whole history of visual artists who had ideas that required time, temporality, movement, duration. Which are not being created in the same vein, as say, commercial cinema or narrative cinema, so it’s actually quite exciting area I think, for experimentation with the medium and expression with the medium of film. And this is a tradition that goes back to the 1920s, to European avant-garde artists and it was rejuvenated very strongly after the Second World War in the United States. And by the post-war era there was a homegrown independent underground cinema, that had its own institutions, that had its own history and it’s still very much with us.

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