Anthology Film Archives

RETROSPECTIVE: MICHAEL SNOW

December 3 – December 14

A filmmaker, photographer, sculptor, painter, musician, and writer, Michael Snow’s prodigious talents have earned him a well-deserved reputation as one of Canada’s foremost living artists. Born in Toronto in 1928, Snow was a bohemian art student who devoted himself equally to painting and jazz piano throughout the 1940s and 1950s (he is still an active musician today). While he exhibited his visual works in Toronto galleries from the mid-50s onwards, it was not until moving to New York City in 1962 that the larger art world took notice of his various activities and endeavors. Writing on the occasion of a major mid-90s retrospective held in Toronto, Jonas Mekas noted:

“Whenever I begin to think more seriously about the work of Michael Snow, I always come to Andy Warhol. Why? Snow and Warhol? Nothing could be more contradictory. But this is how my thinking goes: Snow deserves to be as well known as Warhol. More than that: Snow should be more known than Warhol. Any individual piece of art, photograph, film that Snow has made is more complex, has more content, and contains more aesthetic adventures than most of the things that Andy has done, with the notable exceptions of SLEEP, EMPIRE, CHELSEA GIRLS and BRILLO BOX…So, while Andy’s work sells in millions, Michael’s work still remains in the kingdom of art…When will Andy and Michael – these two metaphors – finally meet outside of the business considerations, as two important pioneering artists of the second half of this century? I know, the time will come.”

No matter what mode he works in or in what context he exhibits (theater, gallery, museum, public art installation), Snow always turns his content on its head by playing with the formal structures of the medium at hand. Much of his cinematic oeuvre is focused on exploring the differences between screen space and physical space; film time and real time; the slippery relationship between sound and picture; the critical processes involved in producing and perceiving images; the material essence of the celluloid image; and the transformative effects achieved through duration. Intellectual without being overly didactic, and always playful, Snow’s filmography stands out as one of the most accomplished bodies of moving-image work produced in the last 60 years. As such, Anthology is pleased to host a full retrospective of Snow’s film and video work, 1956 to 2019, including the premiere of our years-in-the-making restoration of his seminal film <---> (BACK AND FORTH).

“All that survives entire of an epoch is its typical art form. For instance: painting (in all its enormity) comes to us intact from the New Stone Age.

Film is surely the typical art of our time, whatever time that is. If the Lumieres are Lascaux, then we are, now, in the Early Historical Period of film. It is a time of invention.

One of little more than a dozen living inventors of film art is Michael Snow. His work has already modified our perception of past film. Seen or unseen, it will affect the making & understanding of film in the future.

This is an astonishing situation. It is like knowing the name and address of the man who carved the Sphinx.” –Hollis Frampton

This retrospective has been programmed by John Klacsmann and Jed Rapfogel, and is co-presented with the Consulate General of Canada in New York. Special thanks to Peggy Gale; Chris Kennedy; Andrew Lampert; Catherine Scheinman (Consulate General of Canada in New York); Jay Sanders, Stella Cilman, Danielle Jackson & Rezarta Seferi (Artists Space); and Kenneth White.


FOR A SPECIAL STATEMENT FROM MICHAEL SNOW, CONTRIBUTED ON THE OCCASION OF THIS RETROSPECTIVE, CLICK HERE.


The screening of Program 4 (BACK AND FORTH) on Saturday, December 4 will be introduced by Kenneth White, the co-editor (with Annette Michelson) of Michael Snow: October File, published by MIT Press in November 2019. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the box office.

Program 13 is co-presented by Artists Space, on the occasion of their exhibition “Milford Graves: Fundamental Frequency” (which is on view through January 8, 2022). The screening will be followed by a panel discussion exploring Snow’s relationship to Milford Graves and his ties to the 1960s Free Jazz movement.

Last year, Light Industry and Primary Information joined forces to publish a facsimile edition of Michael Snow’s extraordinary (and long out-of-print) artist’s book Cover to Cover. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the box office during the retrospective; to learn more about the publication, or to purchase Cover to Cover now, visit the Publications page on Light Industry’s website.

Upcoming Screenings

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