PRINT September 2005


ROBERT BEAVERS’s extraordinary films have for decades gone largely unseen in the US. Next month the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York mounts the first complete retrospective of Beavers’s work, organized by HENRIETTE HULDISCH, who spoke with the filmmaker in Berlin last summer about the highly personal cinematic vision he has pursued for nearly forty years. Whitney curator and film historian CHRISSIE ILES introduces their conversation.

IN HIS ESSAY “LA TERRA NUOVA,” ROBERT BEAVERS elucidates a paradoxical principle that has informed his filmmaking from the earliest days of his career: “Like the roots of a plant reaching down into the ground, filming remains hidden within a complex act, neither to be observed by the spectator nor even completely seen by the filmmaker. It is an act that begins in the filmmaker’s eyes and is formed by his gestures in relation to the camera.” While the act of filming is distinguished from painting, say, by the mediating apparatus of the camera, filmmaking is nevertheless inexorably tied to the artist’s hand. In Beavers’s description, the recording device translates interior vision into image by a direct physical action.

The comparison of film with painting provides an insight into Beavers’s profoundly physical understanding of his medium, which is underscored by his unorthodox editing methods.

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