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Dialogues — a film by Owen Land

Owen Land
Paraguay Press
Artists' Books
14 × 26 × 2.2 cm

Edited by Philippe Pirotte and Julia Strebelow.

A former assistant to Gregory Markopoulos and mentored by Stan Brakhage, Land has gained a solid reputation among cinema enthusiasts for his films made during the 1960s and 1970s. His work was associated with the earliest examples of the so-called ‘structural’ film movement, when Land worked alongside filmmakers like Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton and Paul Sharits, though he distanced himself from this context very early on. Land himself stresses his education as a painter and his early efforts recalling Abstract Expressionist painting through exposing the physical properties of celluloid (‘Film in Which There Appear Edge Lettering, Sprocket Holes, Dirt Particles, Etc.’, 1965-1966). His visual genius was paired with sophisticated wordplay in his subsequent output. Inspired by educational film (‘Remedial Reading Comprehension’, 1970), advertisement and television, Land parodies the experimental and structural film-movement itself, as is manifest in his 1975 Wide Angle Saxon.

Dialogues is an episodic series of short films informed by the artist’s study of folklore, myth, history and the theology of all major religions, including Gnosticism and cabala. With a healthy dose of irony and a proudly irreverent attitude toward all kind of orthodoxies Land readily applies the structure of the Platonic dialogue to explore themes of reincarnation, art criticism, and Tantra. In the filmmaker’s own words Dialogues “concentrates on the events of Owen Land’s life in 1985, when he returned to Los Angeles after spending a year in Tokyo, Fukuoka, and Okinawa, Japan. […] It was a time for much soul-searching about his relationships with women (and with strippers). There are flashbacks to that very formative period, the 1960s when ‘we won the sexual revolution’ as one character says. Some of the episodes contain events which are more speculative, or imaginative, than literally real.” The film also includes musings about Land’s artistic forebears and pastiches of other films, including The Graduate, Red Eye (called Craven Death Maven), most of Kenneth Anger’s films, and complex allusions to the films of Maya Deren and Stan Brakhage.

This book comprises the full film dialogues, titles and film stills in 4 colors.

Kunsthalle Bern & Paraguay Press

  1. Dialogues — a film by Owen Land

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