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" <firstname.lastname@example.org> > <email@example.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 >> >> _______________________________________________ >> >> FrameWorks mailing list >> >> 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 >> >> ************************************************* >> >> >> >> _______________________________________________ >> FrameWorks mailing list >> FrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.com >> https://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks >> >> >> _______________________________________________ >> FrameWorks mailing list >> FrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.com >> https://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks >> >> > > > _______________________________________________ > FrameWorks mailing > listFrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.comhttps://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks > > > > _______________________________________________ > FrameWorks mailing list > FrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.com > https://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks > > > _______________________________________________ > FrameWorks mailing > listFrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.comhttps://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks > > > > _______________________________________________ > FrameWorks mailing list > FrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.com > https://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks > >
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