I don't know all the details of this story (and it doesn't sound as if anyone 
else in this thread does either), but I just wanted to make a few observations 
about the conversation generally: 

"Are the five signatories lying?" you ask. One might also ask, are the five 
signatories engaging in a sort of 'group think'? And/or is it possible that 
both sides of the tale are telling "the truth" from their own perspective and 
chosen emphasis? ... My (admittedly sketchy) understanding is that Saul Levine 
received a student complaint about the content of a film, a student feeling 
"unsafe" perhaps, or "sexually harassed?" (as is increasingly the charge that 
is made, it seems, when someone is presented with something of a sexual nature 
that makes them uncomfortable.) Any such complaint would necessitate that the 
administration investigate it. They would be obliged to do that. This chain of 
events taking place within a backdrop of long standing contention between Saul 
and other faculty members and/or administrators may have led to an encounter 
that caused Saul to decide that all things considered he'd rather just quit. 
Thus, they can say that he was not forced to quit because of his film, that 
leaving was his choice -- yet he still has a story to tell about what led to 
his decision to leave. The administration says he was not forced to quit, and 
paints him as an ongoing problematic personality who is now "bullying" them. I 
don't know precisely what they mean by that, but he has his story to tell, from 
his point of view, and has every right to tell it. I don't think that telling 
your story of a contentious relationship with others, and even naming the 
people you were in argument with, should necessarily be considered "bullying." 
And in a five versus one argument it is not necessarily true that the five must 
be right and the one must be wrong. They have their experience and views and he 
has his. ... As for the longstanding conflicts, no doubt an ability to 
compromise and to 'get along' with people is helpful in any walk of life -- but 
on the other hand, there are some things that people of integrity will not 
compromise on. They may fight for awhile, they may decide to move on, and they 
may also have an argument they'd subsequently like to present to a larger 
audience. So be it. But the idea that artists are likely to be particularly and 
uniquely difficult, self-absorbed people who are impossible to get along with 
is a cliché that I reject. There are, of course, a lot of horribly difficult 
artists. And there are a lot of horribly difficult non-artists. And academic 
institutions are also fairly notorious for their petty, territorial squabbling, 
which has nothing to do with art whatsoever. 

As a raised example of an artist teaching, Stan Brakhage did, yes, show his own 
films as a part of his teaching practice, but he never taught film making . 
This is because he considered his method of making films, which involved deep 
dives into the unconscious, not "teachable" in the ordinary sense, and 
potentially dangerous, and probably because he wanted to keep his filmmaking 
practice generally separate from his teaching. ... I don't recall Stan "getting 
into trouble" with the school over the nature of his completed films, though I 
do recall some students complaining, after he showed Kenneth Anger's Scorpio 
Rising, that he was showing them "pornography." And on another occasion when a 
university colleague (not a filmmaker or artist of any kind) filled in for Stan 
during an absence, she told his Film History class that Stan's idea of film 
history was only about what mattered to him in his own filmmaking (which was 
totally untrue; as many know he was a voracious consumer of films of all sorts, 
and his film history classes were extremely varied and fabulously 
illuminating). But academics often have very narrowly focussed areas of 
interest also, and can be just as competitive and controlling in their 
personalities as anyone else. 

Without going into any further specifics, it is also generally true, I think, 
that people with large, passionate, or dramatic personalities or temperaments 
are very easy to target for blame when tempers flare and disagreements become 
intense. People will find it easy to believe that it must have been that 
person's fault. But there are times when that is not the case. So who knows? 

Fred, you also say that we should take care to make accusations about the 
abridgment of academic freedom only when it has really occurred. True, but it 
might also be worth noting that such abridgments can creep in in insidious ways 
and we need to be vigilant about the effects of any dominating agenda of any 
particular group of people, and the increasingly narrowing notions about what 
is and is not acceptable and open for discussion, let alone viewing, in our 
academic institutions. I think these are real, not fanciful dangers. 

Marilyn Brakhage 


From: "Fred Camper" <f...@fredcamper.com> 
To: "Experimental Film Discussion List" <frameworks@jonasmekasfilms.com> 
Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2018 1:43:51 PM 
Subject: Re: [Frameworks] Forwarded from Massart Faculty 



So it sounds like you are unquestionably accepting that Levine was forced out 
due to the nature of his filmmaking? 


Are the five signatories of that statement lying? 

Of course it is true that it is in the nature of some kinds of art making that 
the artist will believe that she or he has found the truth, the path, the only 
correct way of making films or other art. Jessica comments on a facet of this, 
though I think in some other kinds of artists authoritarianism is not to be 
found, or will be successfully hidden. But for some of the most original 
artists, this belief is central to their practice. One only has to read the 
writings of Dziga Vertov and Robert Bresson, both filmmakers who felt so 
strongly that their mode of filmmaking was the only true way that they used use 
words or phrases to refer only to their own films to the exclusion of all 
others to emphasize the correctness of their choices, for examples. One can 
only speculate as to the nature, if language differences could be bridged, of a 
"faculty meeting" to discuss the correct forms of cinema education with a 
faculty consisting of Eisenstein, Vertov, Epstein, Bresson, Kubelka, Brakhage, 
Rainer, and, oh, say, Roberto Rossellini, Nicholas Ray and John Ford. 

But at the same time, Stan Brakhage, Peter Kubelka, Robert Breer, Hollis 
Frampton, George Landow/Owen Land, Ernie Gehr, Larry Jordan, Ken Jacobs, Larry 
Gottheim, and of course others, all taught filmmaking for many decades. I name 
these in particular as filmmaker whose work I like, in most cases hugely. All 
showed their own films as part of their teaching practice. Does anyone know of 
cases in which these filmmakers got into trouble with their schools over the 
nature of their completed films, or for their expression of their ideas about 
their art? Some have troubles, but more due to the nature of their 
personalities, is that not right? 

With so many nations sliding into dictatorship, we who are privileged to live 
in relatively free nations should appreciate, and try to preserve, what we 
have, taking care to make accusation about the abridgement of academic freedom 
only when it has really occurred. 


What you are advocating implies an inner split that is probably impossible for 
most of us to put in practice in the long term, but is also fundamentally 
dishonest. Hired to teach one's beliefs, and not directed to conceal them, the 
filmmaker is then to spend a career lying about them? Is that even fair to the 
students, or to the school? Would such a course not make the world a 
fundamentally worse, rather than better, place? Haven't we seen enough lying, 
especially when it is not absolutely necessary? 

Avoiding academia entirely might be a good idea, if one can manage it. I think 
Markopoulos's films only got greater, after he left teaching and the U.S. I 
certainly felt freer in many ways when I could survive as a freelance writer, 
working mostly for a for-profit newspaper, than when I turned to teaching at 
allegedly high-minded not for profit institutions. At the same time, I have 
been relatively free to work my own beliefs about cinema and about art even in 
predesigned courses in which I have to teach certain elements I did not decide 
on (though also do not oppose). And I feel sure that for many, 
alternative-to-teaching jobs might be far worse than teaching. 
Fred Camper 
Chicago 

On 4/14/2018 12:40 PM, Francisco Torres wrote: 



I suggest one course of action to avoid such problems- Total boycott of 
academia. Find other sources of employment if possible. If academia is the only 
alternative in terms of earning an income then withhold your true work from the 
academic audience. Create safe, vanilla works for the administration and the 
student body and another body of work for yourself and your true audience 
(outside academia). Also withhold your true wisdom from your academic work, 
keep it secret. Moreover, feed an official artistic line to your students and 
co-workers. Play it safe. After all, it worked for the alchemists for hundred 
of years. 

2018-04-14 1:34 GMT-04:00 lady snowblood < snowbloods.para...@gmail.com > : 

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I’ve been observing this situation and reflecting on the need for competing 
skills inside one person: 
- adherence to personal vision in the studio 
- the flexibility of ego to collaborate well with colleagues and students in 
the educational environment. 

I’ve seen behavior like this in art teachers the past, although not to this 
degree. And I assigned it as lots of skill in one area (authorship) fewer 
skills in another ... 

It’s hard. I’m reminded that “you can’t say authoritarian without author”. I 
also re-invest in the notion that I have to keep a good buffer between my 
formal creative practice (viciously adhering to the vision) and the social 
skills for creating resilient learning environment (relax, communicate, 
provoke, nourish, discover together etc). 

Jessica 

* * * * * 

Jessica Fenlon 

artist : poet : experimental : http://sixth-station.com 

flickr : vimeo : instagram 

On Apr 13, 2018, at 8:13 AM, John Muse < jm...@sonic.net > wrote: 


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Another turn of the screw: 

https://www.artforum.com/news/massart-embroiled-in-controversy-over-resignation-of-filmmaker-saul-levine-74966
 

j 


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On Apr 12, 2018, at 9:19 AM, Jon Behrens < bolex...@msn.com > wrote: 



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Thank you Ed 

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For sharing this 

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Sent from my iPhone 

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On Apr 11, 2018, at 8:22 PM, Deana LeBlanc < leblanc.de...@gmail.com > wrote: 

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Emotion vs. reason? His live video got us PUMPED and struck a cord- we who were 
watching were cheering, (crying a bit admittedly). Even had musicians riding 
along to its It speaks to something bigger and is effectively cathartic- the 
performance, the storytelling, while also being a testimony of information. Two 
things going on at once, important to distinguish. But this also makes sense- 
the statement from Mass Art Faculty- glad to hear from them. 

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On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, Ed Halter < h...@edhalter.com > wrote: 

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Hey Frameworks 

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Felt I should share this announcement that was forwarded to me from the Massart 
faculty. 

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TO THE MASSART COMMUNITY: 

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The faculty and staff of the Film/Video department demand that Professor Saul 
Levine stop his 

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lies about recent events at Mass Art and his cyber-bullying against his 
colleagues. 

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It is because of Professor Levine’s very public attacks and misrepresentations 
that we feel 

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obliged to correct his version of the complaints against him. 

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He has bullied his colleagues and created an abusive working environment over 
many years. 

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He has derailed and destroyed important discussions about urgent departmental 
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issues. 

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This is NOT an issue of academic freedom. No one at Mass Art made any effort to 
censor or 

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punish Professor Levine for screening his film or any other film he has shown 
over the years. 

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No one forced him to retire.The decision to retire is entirely Professor 
Levine’s. 

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We recognize Professor Levine as a brilliant artist and programmer and are 
thankful for his 

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contributions to the department and to Massart.It is extremely painful to see 
his toxic rant 

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against the department, besmearing the College and insulting us by name while 
claiming 

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himself as the victim. 

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As artists, teachers and mentors, it is our responsibility to stand up when we 
are bullied and to 

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treat each other with respect. It is also our duty to foster an open, 
respectful, and collegial 

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environment for our students. 

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Soon-Mi Yoo, Chair 

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Ericka Beckman, Professor 

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Gretchen Skogerson, Professor 

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Joe Briganti, Studio Manager, Video Area 

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Kim Keown, Studio Manager, Film Area 

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_______________________________________________ 

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FrameWorks mailing list 

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FrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.com 

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https://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks 

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_______________________________________________ 

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FrameWorks mailing list 

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FrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.com 

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j/PrM 

************************************************* 

john muse 
visual media scholar 
haverford college 
he/him/his 
http://www.finleymuse.com 
http://www.haverford.edu/faculty/jmuse 
http://haverford.academia.edu/JohnMuse 

************************************************* 



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