June 29 – Owen Land – New and In Person!

Sunday June 29, 2008, 7:00 pm

At the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood

Los Angeles Filmforum presents

Owen Land – New and In Person!

Filmforum is delighted to host the legendary filmmaker Owen Land (formerly known as George Landow). This is the first appearance he has made at a screening in Los Angeles since the late 1990s. We’re delighted to host the World premiere of two new works:

Why Do We Disrespect Our Genitals? (an episode from Dialogues, or A Waist Is A Terrible Thing To Mind) (2008, video, 4 min.) , and Undesirables (Condensed Version) (2008, video, 14 min.)

Why Do We Disrespect Our Genitals? (an episode from Dialogues, or A Waist Is A Terrible Thing To Mind) (2008, video, 4 min.)Melissa Paradise, featured in \

“DIALOGUES is an autobiographical feature inspired by Plato’s dialogue Phaedo. The subtext is that the female human body is a manifestation of God. The film begins with quotations from the Song of Solomon, and Bud Fisher, creator of ‘Mutt and Jeff.’ The ancient Hebrew concept of the Shekinah was the female as a visible manifestation of the divine presence. In Tantra, it’s called Shakti.” -Owen Land (at right, Melissa Paradise, featured in “Dialogues”)

Undesirables (Condensed Version) (2008, video, 14 min.)
The screenplay was originally written (in 1997) as a response to a semi-serious remark made by Stan Brakhage in 1971: “Someday Hollywood will probably make a film about us, the American experimental
film-makers of the 1960s. I wonder which movie stars they will cast to play us.” It incorporates all of the paranoid conspiracy theories that have been around for the last three decades. -Owen Land

Land will also be signing copies of his book Two Films by Owen Land, which will be available for sale. Come and be delighted and surprised!

Also screening, at Land’s request, are two avant-garde classics:

Thanatopsis by Ed Emshwiller (1962, 16mm, black and white, sound, 5 min)

An expression of internal anguish. The confrontation of a man and his torment. Juxtaposed against his external composure are images of a woman and lights in distortion, with tension heightened by the sounds of power saws and a heartbeat.

Critical Mass (Hapax Legomena III) by Hollis Frampton (1971, 16mm, black and white, sound, 25.5 min.)

As a work of art I think (Critical Mass) is quite universal and deals with all quarrels (those between men and women, or men and men, or women and women, or children, or war). It is war!… It is one of the most delicate and clear statements of inter-human relationships and the difficulties of them that I have ever seen. It is very funny, and rather obviously so. It is a magic film in that you can enjoy it, with greater appreciation, each time you look at it. Most aesthetic experiences are not enjoyable on the surface. You have to look at them a number of times before you are able to fully enjoy them, but this one stands up at once, and again and again, and is amazingly clear.” — Stan Brakhage

Owen Land, formerly known as George Landow, was one of the most original and celebrated American filmmakers of the 1960s and 1970s.

His early materialist works anticipated Structural Film, the definition of which provoked his rejection of film theory and convention. Having first explored the physical qualities of the celluloid strip itself in FILM IN WHICH THERE APPEAR … and BARDO FOLLIES, his attention turned to the spectator in a series of ‘literal’ films that question the illusionary nature of cinema through the use of word play and optical ambiguity.

His two most complex films are WIDE ANGLE SAXON, in which a man has a spiritual revelation during an avant-garde screening at the Walker Art Center, and ON THE MARRIAGE BROKER JOKE, whose disparate cast of characters include two pandas discussing, and making, an avant-garde film about the marketing of Japanese salted plums. Both are models of the unconscious process, with loose narratives that bring together a variety elements through visual and verbal humour.

Land constructs ‘facades’ of reality, often directly addressing the viewer using the language of television, advertising or educational films, and by featuring characters that are often the antithesis of those we might expect to see, such as podgy middle aged men and religious fanatics. He sometimes parodies experimental film itself, by mimicking his contemporaries and mocking the solemn approach of theorists and scholars.

Films like REMEDIAL READING COMPREHENSION propose an alternative logic for a medium that has become over theorised and manipulated. Later works, beginning with THANK YOU JESUS FOR THE ETERNAL PRESENT and A FILM OF THEIR 1973 SPRING TOUR, draw upon the filmmaker’s experiences with Christianity, but are far from evangelistic.

His films contain numerous cross-references to the art and culture of our time, giving them a relevance and vitality beyond the hermetic avant-garde. Owen Land has exposed the material of cinema and deconstructed its process and effect, while covering the ‘big topics’ of religion, psychoanalysis, commerce and pandas making avant-garde movies.
— Mark Webber

Born and raised in Connecticut, USA. Formal studies in drawing, painting, sculpture and industrial design at Pratt Institute, Art Students League of New York and New York Academy of Art. MFA in painting from NYAA. Studied acting and improvisation at the Goodman Drama School and Second City, Chicago. Music studies include classical and Flamenco guitar; Classical piano and composition; Indian vocal and instrumental music at the Alik Akbar Khan College of Music, San Rafael, CA. Taught at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University, San Francisco Art Institute and Art Centre College of Design, Pasadena, CA. Founded the Experimental Theatre Workshop at the Art Institute of Chicago, and wrote and directed several musical theatre pieces with original songs and music, including “Mechanical Sensuality” and “Schwimmen Mit Wimmen”. Retrospectives of Owen Land’s films have been held at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, American Museum of the Moving Image, International Film Festival Rotterdam, London Tate Modern and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

– Two Pieces for the Precarious Life (1961)
– Faulty Pronoun Reference
– Comparison and Punctuation of the Restrictive or Non-Restrictive Element (1961)
– A Stringent Prediction at the Early Hermaphroditic Stage (1961)
– Are Era (1962)
– Richard Kraft at the Playboy Club (1963)
– Fleming Faloon (1963-64)
– Fleming Faloon Screening (1963)
– Not a Case of Lateral Displacement (1964)
– The Leopard Skin (1965)
– Adjacent Yes
– But Simultaneous? (1965)
– This Film will be Interrupted after 11 Minutes by a Commercial (1965)
– Film in Which There Appear Edge Lettering
– Sprocket Holes
– Dirt Particles
– Etc. (1965-66)
– Bardo Follies (1967)
– The Film that Rises to the Surface of Clarified Butter (1968)
– Institutional Quality (1969)
– Remedial Reading Comprehension (1970)
– What’s Wrong With This Picture? 1 (1971)
– What’s Wrong With This Picture? 2 (1972)
– Thank You Jesus for the Eternal Present (1973)
– A Film of Their 1973 Spring Tour Commissioned by Christian World Liberation Front of Berkeley
– California (1974)
– “No Sir
– Orison!” (1975)
– Wide Angle Saxon (1975)
– New Improved Institutional Quality: In the Environment of Liquids and Nasals a Parasitic Vowel Sometimes Develops (1976)
– Diploteratology (1978)
– On the Marriage Broker Joke as Cited by Sigmund Freud in Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious or Can the Avant-Garde Artist Be Wholed? (1977-79)
– Noli Me Tangere (1984
– The Box Theory (1984


TWO FILMS BY OWEN LAND features the illustrated scripts to the films Wide Angle Saxon and On the Marriage Broker Joke, complete with detailed footnotes that untangle their elaborate web of references. Reaching far beyond the two films alluded to in the title, it also includes a new interview, annotated filmography and recent essays by the artist.

TWO FILMS BY OWEN LAND. Paperback book. 178x114mm. 136 pages. Edited by Mark Webber. Published by LUX and Östereichisches Filmmuseum, Vienna. ISBN 0-9548569-10. Price £8
Two Films by Owen Land is much more than the texts of Wide Angle Saxon and On the Marriage Broker Joke, the two most complex films of Owen Land (aka George Landow). Mark Webber has scrupulously edited the first book on this major filmmaker, judiciously allowing Land1s own words – his texts, his essays, hilarious annotations, and an interview – to reveal the depth and intensity of his engagement with cinema and other avant-garde film-makers. It is a very funny book: Land admits he has been “converted more times than Uncle Ben’s Rice,” and he speculates that Freud “would have bombed in Las Vegas” with the jokes in his book on Wit. The filmography alone constitutes a major contribution to the field.” — P. Adams Sitney


One response to “June 29 – Owen Land – New and In Person!

  1. In addition to his other achievments Owen Land is the greatest film projectionist I have ever known.

Leave a Reply to David Ehrenstein Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s