KISSING THE MOON: FILMS AND VIDEOS BY STEPHEN DWOSKIN
March 15 – March 24
“Looking is a marvelous thing, and looking is what cinema is about.” –Stephen Dwoskin
This long-awaited retrospective by Brooklyn-born filmmaker, painter, and writer Stephen Dwoskin – who spent most of his adult life in London until his death this past June at the age of 73 – pays homage to an artist who left behind an extensive legacy of unique and uncompromising works, many involving his long struggle with polio, which he contracted when he was 9. Dwoskin’s intensely personal and daring works span more than five decades and include over fifty short works and features shot on both film and video.
Dwoskin attended art classes under Willem De Kooning and Josef Albers in NYC and soon became part of the New York underground scene that included Robert Frank, Allen Ginsberg, and Andy Warhol, among others. Although there are similarities in the way Dwoskin and Warhol approached moving-image as a tool to expand portraiture, Dwoskin was first inspired by the works of Maya Deren, as well as Jack Smith and Ron Rice.
Dwoskin moved from New York to London in 1964, where he became one of the founders of the London Film-makers’ Cooperative and a strong supporter of the independent cinema movement in the U.K. In 1975, Dwoskin completed and published his book FILM IS…, described by J. Hoberman as an “impassioned, programmatically cosmopolitan, personal history of avant-garde cinema.”
Anthology’s series features a selection of early short works including Dwoskin’s first film ASLEEP, as well as NAISSANT and SOLILOQUY, award-winners at the legendary 1967 Experimental Film Festival of Knokke-le-Zoute, in Belgium. The program also includes Dwoskin’s most recognized films, TRIXI (1969) and DYN AMO (1972), which, along with his 156-minute CENTRAL BAZAAR (1976), highlight Dwoskin’s investigation of the gaze between filmmaker and performer, and his fascination with the act of looking.
In Dwoskin’s later works, such as BEHINDERT (1974), OUTSIDE IN (1981), and TRYING TO KISS THE MOON (1994), the subject matter becomes increasingly autobiographical, with the filmmaker appearing more frequently on camera. Yet while the films themselves incorporate Dwoskin’s struggle with his physical impairment, they never cease to blur the boundaries between reality and fiction. In the most recent videos, Dwoskin confronts – free from any fear or self-pity – the deformity of his body, his dependency on medical apparatuses, and his sexual encounters with women. In this way, he seems to be challenging his illness by turning it into art, culminating in his masterful THE SUN AND THE MOON (2007). With his final work, AGE IS…, completed shortly before he passed away, and premiered at the Locarno Film Festival this year, Dwoskin meditates on the process of aging by carefully contemplating its signs on the human body.
Dwoskin’s cinema, generally labeled as ‘personal’ despite its strong subjectivity, transcends the specifics of his condition, serving as a mirror that reflects every individual’s life – one’s limitations yet one’s right to desire the impossible, to kiss the moon.
The retrospective has been curated by Andrea Monti, who also wrote the introduction above, and is co-presented by LUX Distribution and the Estate of Stephen Dwoskin.
Special thanks to Rachel Garfield (Estate of Stephen Dwoskin) and Mike Sperlinger & Gil Leung (LUX), as well as to Antoine Barraud & Vincent Wang (House on Fire Productions), Elle Burchill (Microscope Gallery), Thierry Fourreau, William Fowler (BFI), Marie-Anne Guerin, and Anthea Kennedy.
Additional works by Stephen Dwoskin will be presented at Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn, in conjunction with this series. For more info, please visit: www.microscopegallery.com