Experience the art and legacy of Jonas Mekas on the centennial of his birth through an immersive installation of 11 films from the groundbreaking filmmaker’s 70-year career, along with photography and previously unseen archival material.

In addition to making nearly 100 films and videos, amassing footage that was both a record of his life and a resource for his art, Mekas was founder or co-founder of numerous artist-run cooperatives, including The Film-Makers’ Cooperative, among the earliest organizations to support experimental film production, screening, and distribution on a large scale, and Anthology Film Archives which became — and remains — a focal point for New York’s experimental cinema scene. He penned “Movie Journal,” the first critical column on cinema in the Village Voice, and, with the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, presented the screening and conversation series Avant Garde Tuesdays at the Jewish Museum in the late 1960s.

During the final moments of World War II in 1944, Mekas was forced to flee his native Lithuania and was unable to return until 1971. The relationship between exile and creativity is always at the heart of his work and is the exhibition’s central theme. Jonas Mekas: The Camera Was Always Running is conceived around the license Mekas granted his audiences at the 1969 premiere of Walden, in which he acknowledged that viewers might enter and exit his non-linear film at any point, intuiting a not-so-distant future when filmmakers presented their works in exhibition spaces rather than at cinema screenings. Through his films, Mekas encourages viewers to find their own meaning and path through the stuff of his life. The works on view span the entirety of Mekas’s career, beginning with his first major work Guns of the Trees (1962) and ending with his last work Requiem (2019).

To learn more, visit thejewishmuseum.org.

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