As time goes by I recognize I may had sided with Levine without knowing all
the facts, for which I hope to correct now.  It looks like this issue is
more complex that I thought at first but that does make me differ from two
of my main points- the first that the institution, Massart, mishandled the
case and the second, that in today's political and economic climate artists
should avoid academia at all costs. I hope things change for the best in
the future but right now that is how I see things.

2018-04-16 12:10 GMT-04:00 Fred Camper <f...@fredcamper.com>:

> Marilyn,
>
> I don’t disagree with anything you wrote. Five people agreeing are not
> always right. My post was colored by the fact that I believed the initial
> story, finding it frightening that an instructor would be pressured out of
> a job for showing a film. I don’t know of any films I have seen the showing
> of which should ever be judged as sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is
> very serious and very bad, and the term should not be demeaned by
> application with speech acts not directed at a particular person.
>
> I taught in the same school as Stan Brakhage for quite a few years.
> Perhaps he could be a little difficult at times, but he is not even
> remotely like the unnamed person I was referencing. I was pleased to
> sometimes try to smooth out small conflict between Stan and the
> administration. There are intense and dramatic personalities; then there is
> the occasional abuser, and that is the person I was referring to, someone
> who in the course of what should have been an objective conversation
> routinely resorted to frequent personal insults – among many other bullying
> tactics.
>
> One year I got a grant that allowed us to bring in fifteen different
> filmmakers from the US and abroad. As the list came together, I was warned
> that this or that filmmaker would be very difficult. In every case but one,
> they were not. Kenneth Anger was gentle, even sweet, and did exactly what
> he had agreed to do. A few had special requests, but they were not hard to
> meet.
>
> One of the fifteen *was* difficult. When he met with his student
> projectionist in advance of his public show, the projectionist suggested,
> from the projector deck, that they needed to agree on a signal between them
> if the filmmaker felt a film was out of focus. The filmmaker said something
> like, "Why don’t I just call out, 'Hey, you fuck, focus it. '" The
> projectionist took exception to being referred to as a "fuck," and almost
> walked out. To me, this is not a matter about which reasonable people can
> disagree; it is bullying.
>
> That is not to say that I have any idea what the five were referring to.
> Maybe I would agree; maybe not.
>
> Remember too that I was responding to someone who was taking sides,
> apparently accepting the initial narrative, suggesting that the artist in
> general is so abused that he should teach dishonestly. Maybe in a
> totalitarian dictatorship? We are not there yet, thankfully.
>
> I don’t know what I would think about the MassArt situation if I had been
> there. It is just that I was embarrassed to be thinking ill of MassArt from
> having heard and accepted one side of the story. Now I am neutral. I always
> did admire Switzerland for not having been in a foreign war since 1515.
> Fred Camper
> Chicago
>
>
> On 4/16/2018 3:31 AM, MARILYN BRAKHAGE wrote:
>
> 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> <f...@fredcamper.com>
> *To: *"Experimental Film Discussion List" <frameworks@jonasmekasfilms.com>
> <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>:
>
>> 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 <https://www.flickr.com/photos/drawclose> : vimeo
>> <http://vimeo.com/jessicafenlon> : instagram
>> <https://www.instagram.com/port.manteaux>
>>
>> On Apr 13, 2018, at 8:13 AM, John Muse <jm...@sonic.net> wrote:
>>
>> Another turn of the screw:
>>
>> https://www.artforum.com/news/massart-embroiled-in-
>> controversy-over-resignation-of-filmmaker-saul-levine-74966
>>
>> j
>>
>> On Apr 12, 2018, at 9:19 AM, Jon Behrens <bolex...@msn.com> wrote:
>>
>>
>> Thank you Ed
>>
>> For sharing this
>>
>>
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>
>>
>> On Apr 11, 2018, at 8:22 PM, Deana LeBlanc <leblanc.de...@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>
>> 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.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, Ed Halter <h...@edhalter.com> wrote:
>>
>> Hey Frameworks
>>
>>
>> Felt I should share this announcement that was forwarded to me from the
>> Massart faculty.
>>
>>
>> ------------
>>
>>
>>
>> TO THE MASSART COMMUNITY:
>>
>>
>> The faculty and staff of the Film/Video department demand that Professor
>> Saul Levine stop his
>>
>> lies about recent events at Mass Art and his cyber-bullying against his
>> colleagues.
>>
>>
>> It is because of Professor Levine’s very public attacks and
>> misrepresentations that we feel
>>
>> obliged to correct his version of the complaints against him.
>>
>>
>> He has bullied his colleagues and created an abusive working environment
>> over many years.
>>
>>
>> He has derailed and destroyed important discussions about urgent
>> departmental and curricular
>>
>> issues.
>>
>>
>> This is NOT an issue of academic freedom. No one at Mass Art made any
>> effort to censor or
>>
>> punish Professor Levine for screening his film or any other film he has
>> shown over the years.
>>
>> No one forced him to retire.The decision to retire is entirely Professor
>> Levine’s.
>>
>>
>> We recognize Professor Levine as a brilliant artist and programmer and
>> are thankful for his
>>
>> contributions to the department and to Massart.It is extremely painful to
>> see his toxic rant
>>
>> against the department, besmearing the College and insulting us by name
>> while claiming
>>
>> himself as the victim.
>>
>>
>> As artists, teachers and mentors, it is our responsibility to stand up
>> when we are bullied and to
>>
>> treat each other with respect. It is also our duty to foster an open,
>> respectful, and collegial
>>
>> environment for our students.
>>
>>
>> Soon-Mi Yoo, Chair
>>
>> Ericka Beckman, Professor
>>
>> Gretchen Skogerson, Professor
>>
>> Joe Briganti, Studio Manager, Video Area
>>
>> Kim Keown, Studio Manager, Film Area
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>>
>> FrameWorks mailing list
>>
>> FrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.com
>>
>> https://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>>
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>>
>> FrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.com
>>
>> https://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks
>>
>>
>> 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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