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Found Sounds

A RETROSPECTIVE OF BARBARA METER’S AVANT-GARDE FILMS

In the early 1970s, in need of a critical response to the commercialization of film production and programming, Barbara Meter (Netherlands, b. 1939) co-founded the Electric Cinema. Run by members of the Amsterdamse Film Coop, and the Studio for the Development of Film and Film Manifestations (STOFF), the theater became the epicenter of Dutch independent and avant-garde filmmaking. At the Electric Cinema, Meter curated international avant-garde and expanded cinema programs. After that, she co-created POLKIN (Political Kinema) and made documentaries as part of activist and feminist movements. In her avant-garde films, she pushes the cinematic medium forward with her unique way of repurposing documents and audio recordings, utilizing an innovative, masterful application of optical printing techniques. Her essay “Looked for and Found: On Archival and Found Footage Film”, was written in 1995 for the London School of Printing, and continues to be of radical importance. After many years of work, the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, working closely with the artist, has preserved Meter’s films in all their complexity. Found Sounds is the first comprehensive retrospective of Barbara Meter’s avant-garde films in the United States and in Spain.

Organized by guest curator, and program notes by Mónica Savirón

Presented with the support of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Lamento
2012. Written and performed by Remco Campert. Audio recording of live performance. In Dutch. 3 min.
From Barbara Meter’s Here Now; part of the film series, Ten Songs.

Ariadne
Barbara Meter, 2004, super 8 to 35mm, 12 min.
Characteristic of the German lied or lit, which sets poems to music, this song cycle incorporates text from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s tragic play, Faust.

Appearances
Barbara Meter, 2000, super 8 to 16mm, 21 min.
With sounds from the 1920s and 1930s in Germany, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Marlene Dietrich, the music transitions in this film go through what seems to be an intermediate state of dubitative silence, only to be interrupted by sound effects of strangers’ voices played backwards, German radio, magpies’ calls, and a continuous undercurrent, flapping, pounding beat.

Convalescing
Barbara Meter, 2000, super 8 to 16mm, 3 min.
The silence of Meter’s films speaks volumes: it is a conscious and loud way of expression. Taking place inside a room, Convalescing is both contemplative and self-reflective, as well as the one film by Meter that allows us to take an intimate pause—with just the sound of the film projector, and our very, inner, own.

Song for Four Hands
Barbara Meter, 1970, super 8 to16mm, 3 min.
This is a shot, counter-shot film that creates a conversation without words between a woman, Barbara Meter, and a man, experimental filmmaker, Jos Schoffelen. The film proposes a dialogue deafened by a chord from a Mahler symphony.

Stretto
Barbara Meter, 2005, 16mm, 6 min.
The word “stretto” is an Italian musical term referring to the final section of a fugue, characterized by interweaving melodies. The musical theme gets repeated at different pitches and timbres before those notes reach their end. The soundtrack is John Cage’s Music For Prepared Piano 2, a percussion-like piece conceived as a dance accompaniment.

Portraits
Barbara Meter, 1972, super 8 to 16mm, dual projection + Audio recording, 6 min.
Meter features close-ups of artists Sally Potter, Mattijn Seip, Pim van Isveldt, and Mike Dunford from different angles and at fast speed. Steve Reich’s Four Organs gives final shape to this film. Barbara Meter: “What I usually hope to achieve is that image and sound follow their own path, but often connect, after which they distance themselves again—and then connect again.”

A Touch
Barbara Meter, 2008, 16mm, 13 min.
With sound effects of passing trains, running water, and wind, plus an exquisite imagery manipulation with the optical printer, Meter pays homage to the fragility of celluloid, as well as of our own vulnerable materiality. There are no statements in this film, but fragments of music, including Francesco Tuma’s Stabat Mater, a Latin hymn on the depths and weights of human suffering and sorrow.
This is an all-celluloid touring program taking place at the Milwaukee Underground Film Festival in Wisconsin (April 22), Museum of the Moving Image in New York (April 30), and (S8) Mostra de Cinema Periférico in A Coruña, Spain (June 2).

In partnership with EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam; Milwaukee Underground Film Festival; and Museum of the Moving Image.

Very special thanks to Cullen Gallagher, Vera Kuipers, David Schwartz, Simona Monizza, Marleen Labijt, Edith van der Heijde, Guy Edmonds, Ben Balcom, Elena Duque, Ángel Rueda, Ximena Losada, Fred Baez, Tom Avitabile, Carolyn Funk, Joel Schlemowitz, José María Armada, Blanca Regina, Karel Doing, Emmanuel Lefrant, Frédérique Devaux, Tomoko Kawamoto, Eric Hynes, Angel Ortiz-Oyola, Acción Cultural Española AC/E, and Barbara Meter.
Ad libitum:

Broken Tongue
Mónica Savirón, 2013, 16mm, 3 min.
Mainly made with images from the January 1st issues of The New York Times since its beginning in 1851 to 2013, Broken Tongue is a heartfelt tribute to avant-garde sound performer Tracie Morris and to her poem Afrika.

Answer Print
Mónica Savirón, 2016, 16mm, 5 min.
This film is made with deteriorated 16mm color stock, and it is meant to disappear over time. Neither hue nor sound has been manipulated in its analog reassembling. The soundtrack combines audio generated by silent double perforated celluloid, the optical tracks from sound films, and the tones produced by each of the filmmaker’s cuts when read by the projector.

Duration: 75 min. CGAI – 2/06. 20.30h.

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