Curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi
in conjunction with the LVI Venice Biennale of Visual Arts
Welcome to The Internet Saga. To enter into this story you don’t have to be in Venice nor do you have to cross the threshold of Palazzo Foscari Contarini. Neither do you need to go from the railway station to Piazza San Marco and to the Spazio Ridotto. You can simply go online from wherever you are and look for that which interests you the most. We are here and elsewhere, continually. You don’t have to be here at all costs, it’s not important for you to be right here, but that you are now, wherever you are.
This is not a normal pavilion of the Biennial and it is not an event. We are at the beginning of a grand narrative which is taking place in the real time of the Internet. It’s no longer time for surfing, but for immersion. Where online and offline are no longer separated and where virtual worlds have been abandoned to give way to timelines.
We are already here, continually, almost together.
The Internet Saga penetrates through the screens, the windows and the courtyard of the only Burger King restaurant in Venice, like a second level of reality. At the city gates, opposite the railway station, on the top of the Ponte degli Scalzi, all through the day. A ray of light passes through the chambers of this 16th century palace transformed into a fast food restaurant. Simultaneous autonomies: the story of Venice, the abyss of the Internet, the time for a sandwich.
And we are already in a different place. At the end of the Canal Grande, in the darkness of the projection of the new Spazio Ridotto, where the images of a lifetime flow at the speed of the cinema. Endlessly.
It’s challenging enough to say yes. This is the answer which gave rise to the correspondence with Jonas Mekas (Biržai, 24 December 1922), inspirator of The Internet Saga. It is to him, a man who has journeyed through the history of moving images both on and offline, who we turned to in an attempt to trace the origins of the new era in which we are living.
A Lithuanian artist and poet who moved to New York at the end of 1949, Mekas has had a fundamental role in the development of independent cinema, both as theoretician and as director. From the pages of The Village Voice and of Film Culture – a magazine founded together with his brother Adolfas – he tells the story of the emergence of a heterogeneous scene, united by opposition to the dynamics of Hollywood. Through the Film-Makers’ Cooperative (1962) and the Anthology Fim Archives (1970) he contributed to the reinvention of cinematographic distribution, reuniting film-makers such as Jack Smith, Stan Vanderbeek, Stan Brakhage, Barbara Rubin and John Cassavetes under the name of New American Cinema. In the statutes of the group, drawn up by Mekas himself, he wrote: «we prefer films which are rough, unpolished, but alive; we don’t want rosy films: we want them the color of blood».
The work of Jonas Mekas has been exhibited in some of the world’s most important museums among which the Centre George Pompidou, the Serpentine Galleries, Hermitage and MoMA PS1. In 2002 the artist took part in Documenta XI and in 2003 he participated in the Venice Biennial. Again in the Venice Biennial in 2005, he was invited to represent the Lithuania National Pavilion.
In a journey through time to the boundaries between cinema and art, Jonas Mekas is an eternal experimenter. And it is right here, between everyday life and eternity that his work finds it’s just dimension. Between the stream of life and its montage, timeline and lifetime.
The approach to Internet was therefore a natural step and since 2006 the web site www.jonasmekasfilms.com is like a great multimedia diary where real life becomes images. With stoical method, Mekas expresses his own happiness by exploring new temporal dimensions where cinema, the Internet, performance and real life intersect. The Internet Saga is dedicated to the poetry of this fusion. To Jonas Mekas.