The Temenos needs your help. We are asking for financial support to complete the printing of a portion of the epic, 80-hour film entitled ENIAIOS by Gregory J. Markopoulos (1928-1992). The premiere of these 16mm films is scheduled for June 29 through July 1, 2012 in Arcadia, Greece. They make up the sixth, seventh, and eighth cycles of ENIAIOS, and the three nights of projections will constitute the third manifestation of the Temenos.
What is the Temenos?
The first five of the twenty-two film cycles of ENIAIOS were presented at the same site in 2004 and 2008. Artforum magazine covered the 2008 screenings here: http://artforum.com/film/id=20697 Spectators traveled from Europe, North and South America, and Australia especially for the event. For this work, the summa of his career, Markopoulos wished to create a deeply personal and utterly unique cinematic experience. He chose the site near Lyssaraia, birthplace of his father in the Peloponnese, for its natural beauty; for he had conceived the Temenos as a viewing space where the physical environment would be in harmony with his idea of cinema as an instrument of philosophical and psychological revelation. In calling his projection space “The Temenos” the filmmaker was invoking the religious traditions of ancient Greece, where a portion of land was set aside for the ritual worship of a god. The original meaning of the term “Temenos” is “a piece of land set apart.” Markopoulos wanted his life work shown in a space “set apart,” when after years of working in the international arena of the experimental film, he grew disillusioned with the interrelated commercialism of the film industry, the universities, and the art museums. He was convinced that the grandeur of what he called “film as film” required something radically different. The difference begins as soon as a dedicated film enthusiast decides to travel to Greece to devote three consecutive days to this extraordinary work. Thus the spectators’ journey to the Temenos anticipates and prepares them for the more astonishing journey that takes place in front of the projected film. Central to the conception of the Temenos is that there be no charge for admission. Nevertheless the considerable costs of printing the sections of the edited film rolls to be screened in each manifestation and the expenses of preparing the projections requires this plea for your support.
Although Markopoulos conceived of ENIAIOS as a unified work, each film cycle is itself autonomous, so it is not necessary to have seen the earlier cycles to attend the screenings and appreciate the power of these recently restored films. Each screening begins with the setting of the sun and continues for approximately three hours under the night sky and the movement of the heavens. The serene pace and gradual development of the film creates what Markopoulos called “the intuition space.” It allows the viewer to perceive his or her own emotions in dialogue with the filmmaker’s concentrated, fleeting images. The effect is unlike that of any other film experience, and deliberately so. The filmmaker thought of the Temenos pilgrimage as a cure or a purgation of media pollution. The unusual timing and setting for the screenings produces an event that becomes profoundly memorable by virtue of its contrast with the many forms of electronic media we consume on a daily basis.
Who was Markopoulos?
Gregory J. Markopoulos, born in 1928 in Toledo, Ohio to Greek immigrant parents, was a key figure in the New American Cinema movement. From childhood he knew he would be a filmmaker. At the University of Southern California, he studied with Josef von Sternberg and observed studio productions directed by Lang, Hitchcock, Curtiz, and Korda. In his first year of college in 1947, inspired by the concept of synesthesia, he completed his first important color film, Psyche.It was immediately recognized as a work of the post-World War II experimental film renaissance, and it is still considered one of the greatest achievements of that mode. He realized that he would never be able to make the kind of film he imagined within the Hollywood system, so he left the university after three semesters. He returned to Toledo to make two more films in the manner of Psyche. Together they formed the trilogy Du Sang, de la volupté, et de la mort, a romantic meditation on the nature of art, emotion, and the enigma of homosexuality. In 1950, Markopoulos made Rain Black, My Love, later re-cut and re-titled Swain, which anticipated his later groundbreaking editing techniques. Subsequently, he made the first of many trips to Europe where he hoped to find a means of continuing his filmmaking. However, he was in advance of his times. It would be another decade before the French Nouvelle Vague would break with the dominant international style by introducing a version of the rapid editing and fracturing of narrative that had been the basis of Markopoulos’s art as early as the 1950s. He spent over six years in Greece, working on Serenity, a multi-lingual, 35mm feature film about the exchange of populations after the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922). While Markopoulos was completing the film, he continued to work on other scenarios and to consider unconventional projection methods inspired by his visits to ancient Greek theaters. These scenarios and imaginative speculations would become sources for his major works of the 1960s. They included Greek myth films, such as his mythopoetic masterpiece Twice a Man (1963), which intensified his study of psychodrama, memory, symbolic color, and montage, and The Illiac Passion (1964-67), his version of the Prometheus myth, which features many iconic artists of the downtown New York scene including Jack Smith, Taylor Mead, and Andy Warhol. At this time, he also became interested in the multiple-screen and variable speed projection, concepts that would ignite the expanded cinema movement.
In early 1966, following his mother’s death, Markopoulos paid homage to her with the film, Ming Green. There he began using a new method to construct short films entirely in-camera, without subsequent editing. A single roll of film stock was run several times inside the camera apparatus so that carefully selected passages of frames might be exposed and often super-imposed at precise positions on the roll. Ming Green, the first such portrait, was shot during his mourning in his New York City apartment. In 1967, after an unrewarding winter as a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and facing mounting critical and financial struggles, Markopoulos moved permanently to Europe with his partner and fellow filmmaker, Robert Beavers. At the same time he withdrew his films from distribution. P. Adams Sitney, a co-founder along with Jonas Mekas and others, of New York City’s Anthology Film Archives documented Markopoulos’s considerable influence in Visionary Film, the landmark 1974 book about avant-garde film. Yet the filmmaker was so discouraged with the American reception of serious cinema, he had Sitney excise the chapter on him in the second edition of the book, which appeared in 1979. He effectively disappeared from the American film scene for the remainder of his life. In severing his ties to America, he was beginning his quest for a cinematic monument “set apart” from the critical, academic, and institutional shortcomings of the world with which he was familiar.
Towards ENIAIOS and the Temenos
In his last years, working quietly in Europe, Markopoulos re-edited his whole body of earlier films and dozens of new ones he had shot and edited (but not printed) into one magnum opus, ENIAIOS. It is one of the longest films ever made: the complete film lasts approximately 80 hours and is divided into 22 cycles. Markopoulos toiled over ENIAIOS and completed it, but the film was never shown in his lifetime. At the time of his death in 1992, it remained unprinted. From the moment he began to construct it, it was Markopoulos' intention that the film be projected only at the open-air site of the Temenos. After the filmmaker’s death, Robert Beavers set out to realize and properly showcase this epic work. He created the Temenos Archive and the not-for-profit organizations, Temenos Inc. and its Association. He has worked tirelessly to establish the screening events in Arcadia.
In order to achieve that goal Beavers had to reintroduce Markopoulos’s work to new audiences. The response of film archives and art museums, deprived of the opportunity of showing these films for forty years, has been very enthusiastic. Over the past twenty years, numerous texts, screenings, and exhibitions have explored Markopoulos’s work and influence on avant-garde filmmaking. For instance, his career was the subject of a major retrospective entitled Gregory J. Markopoulos: Mythic Themes, Portraiture and Films of Place at The Whitney Museum of American Art in 1996, accompanied by a catalogue publication. The Markopoulos chapter in Visionary Film was re-instated, with corrections, in the third edition of the book, published in 2002. As a result of all this posthumous activity around Markopoulos, there is now a whole new audience for his work. The increased opportunities to see his films, and to learn about ENIAIOS in particular, have resulted in a new body of scholarship and criticism. And most importantly, the profound integrity and sensitivity of his work has inspired a new generation of artists.
Every four years, if funding allows, a new set of cycles of ENIAIOS is premiered in a multi-day, free summer festival that draws hundreds to the Temenos screening site. This is the only place in the world that ENIAIOS can be seen as Markopolous envisioned it. The first two cycles premiered in June 2004 at the Temenos site. Cycles III – V were premiered there in June 2008. Cycles VI – VIII of ENIAIOS will be screened on June 28–July 1, 2012 at the Temenos site in Greece.
We need your support now to print these three new cycles in time for these screenings. THANK YOU!
- (31 days)