Ken Jacobs
Curated by Mark Webber
1st October - 30th November 2008

Ken Jacobs / Little Stabs at Happiness / 1958-63

Ken Jacobs (b.1933) has been active as a filmmaker, performer and 
teacher for the past five decades. Rigorous and dedicated, his work is 
characterised by a keen eye for formal composition and a fierce 
political consciousness.

As a central figure of the generation that defined independent 
filmmaking during the post-War era, Jacobs contributed to the liberation 
of cinema from technical and ideological conventions. Beginning in the 
1950s, he developed an 'urban guerrilla cinema' out of poverty and 
desperation, shooting improvised routines on city streets. The early 
works Star Spangled to Death, Little Stabs at Happiness and Blonde Cobra 
feature a nascent Jack Smith, years before the renegade artist produced 
his own films.

Having lived in New York all his life, the changing character of t he 
city has been a strong presence throughout Jacobs' work, from his 
manipulation of vintage street scenes in New York Ghetto Fishmarket 
1903, through to the diaristic video Circling Zero: We See Absence, 
which observes the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center, a 
few blocks away from Jacobs' home. The Sky Socialist was shot in a 
deserted neighbourhood (long since decommissioned) below the Brooklyn 
Bridge in the 1960s, and Perfect Film uses raw television news reports 
on the assassination of Malcolm X.

Found or archival footage is a source for much of Jacobs' work. In Star 
Spangled to Death, entire appropriated films contribute to an 
accumulative denunciation of American politics, religion, war and 
racism, whereas an analytical approach to reclaiming cinema's past was 
originated in Tom, Tom the Pipers' Son by re-filming selected details of 
a theatrical production dating from 1905. This same footage has lately 
been digitally excavated in Return to the Scene of the Crime.

The technique of unlocking aspects of film material that would otherwise 
pass unnoticed is the essence of the live Nervous System pieces that 
Jacobs has performed with two adapted projectors since the mid-1970s. 
Repetition and pulsing flicker teases frozen images into impossible 
depth and perpetual motion (demonstrated in New York Street Trolleys 
1900), a process further developed by the Eternalism system of editing 
used in many recent videos. The previously ephemeral live performances 
Ontic Antics Starring Laurel and Hardy; Bye Molly! and Two Wrenching 
Departures are amongst the works that take on new life in their digital 

A contemporary of Stan Brakhage, Bruce Conner and Jonas Mekas, Ken 
Jacobs is one of the true innovators of the moving image, who continues 
his radical practice in the present. Though his images frequently depict 
bygone eras, the works are resolutely contemporary, displaying a 
vitality and ingenuity that is rarely matched.

The exhibition at tank.tv presents a portfolio of 20 works covering 50 
years of Ken Jacobs' artistic production from 1957 to the present day.
Curated by Mark Webber.

Programme on www.tank.tv

The Whirled, 1956-63
Star Spangled To Death, 1957-59/2004
Little Stabs At Happiness, 1958-63
Blonde Cobra, 1959-63
The Sky Socialist, 1964-65
Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son, 1969-71
The Doctor's Dream, 1978
Perfect Film, 1985
Flo Rounds A Corner, 1999
New York Street Trolleys 1900, 1999
Circling Zero: We See Absence, 2002     Krypton Is Doomed, 2005
Let There Be Whistleblowers, 2005
Ontic Antics Starring Laurel And Hardy; Bye, Molly!, 2005
The Surging Sea Of Humanity, 2006
Capitalism: Child Labor, 2006
New York Ghetto Fishmarket 1903, 2006
Two Wrenching Departures, 2006
Razzle Dazzle: The Lost World, 2006
Return To The Scene Of The Crime, 2008

Ask Ken!
For the duration of the online show, tank.tv offers a unique opportunity 
for discussion with Ken Jacobs in an extended Q+A session. Email your 
questions to the artist at [EMAIL PROTECTED] A regularly updated transcript 
of the dialogue will be online at www.tank.tv/askken

Star Spangled to Death     Capitalism: Child Labor
Ken Jacobs / Star Spangled to Death / 1957-59/2004     Ken Jacobs / 
Capitalism: Child Labor / 2006.


Thursday 16 October, at 9pm, BFI Southbank & Sunday 19 October, at 5pm, 
ICA, London.
Momma's Man (2008, 77 min). A feature film by Azazel Jacobs, starring 
and shot in the loft of his parents, Ken and Flo Jacobs. Screening in 
The Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival.

CASZ, Amsterdam. Check website for exact times
Capitalism: Child Labor (2006 , 14 min). An animated deconstruction of a 
Victorian stereo photograph, will be regularly presented on the CASZ 
Contemporary Art Screen Zuidas on the Zuidplein in Amsterdam.

Sunday 2 November 2008, from 2 - 10pm, Chisenhale Gallery, London
Star Spangled to Death (1957-59/2004, 375 min). Celebrate the end of the 
Bush regime with a free screening of Ken Jacobs episodic indictment of 
American politics, religion, war, racism and stupidity. Starring Jack 
Smith, Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller, Al Jolson and a cast of 
thousands. Refreshments available.
Presented by Whitechapel at the Chisenhale.

Saturday 29 November 2008, at 10:15pm, BFI IMAX, London
Ken Jacobs Ne rvous Magic Lantern live performance in collaboration with 
Eric La Casa, using pre-cinematic techniques to conjure abstract 3D 
forms on the immense IMAX screen. Part of the Kill Your Timid Notion 
tour (also performing in Bristol and Liverpool).

Sunday 30 November 2008, at 12:30pm, BFI Southbank, London
Ken Jacobs in Conversation. Kill Your Timid Notion presents a discussion 
with the artist to follow on from the previous night's performance.

Tank Magazine, 10th Anniversary Issue (on sale from 18 September 2008)
Ken Jacobs discusses Star Spangled to Death with Mark Webber, and 
contributes "Failed State" an article on contemporary American politics.



- - - - - - - - - - - -

2nd Floor
Princess House
50 - 60 Eastcastle Street

T: +44 (0)207323 3475
F: +44 (0)207631 4280


- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Coming soon:
Ken Jacobs
Curated by Mark Webber
1st October - 1st November 2008

Fresh Moves - Out now! Order your copy on www.tank.tv

"A significant archive of creative practices in the early years of 
twenty-first century England"
Tyler Coburn, Tomorrow Unlimited


tank.tv is an inspirational showcase for innovative work in film and
video. Dedicated to exhibiting and promoting emerging and established
international artists, www.tank.tv acts as a major online gallery and
archive for video art. A platform for contemporary moving images.

NetBehaviour mailing list

Reply via email to