This film series presents a selection of work by Gregory J. Markopoulos (1928–1992), who made some of the most subjective and allegorical film poetics in post-war experimental cinema. With four sessions screened in both La Casa Encendida and the Museo Reina Sofía, this series is also the outcome of a collaboration between an extensive international network of arts centres and film institutes which, co-occurring with the publication of the director’s writings, endeavours to review a body of work that joins formal experimentation and individual mythology.
A contemporary of Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage and Maya Deren, Gregory J. Markopulos (1928–1992) was born in the USA to Greek emigrants, a sensibility and foreign condition that would underlie his constant trips to Europe from the 1950s onwards, bringing him into contact with Jean Cocteau and establishing a hermetic and narcissistic sense of cultural tradition. After Psyche (1947), his first 16mm film, Markopoulos built his own cinematic space, articulated by biographical narration and the translation and contemporary reinterpretation of mythological, literary and musical sources. This series introduces the keys to sensual and excessive poetics, in which homosexual identity, initiation rites and allegory circle around complex editing techniques and spontaneously superimposed images.
Disillusioned with the possibilities of the post-war Avant-garde and sceptical about the role of institutions, audience and circles of experimental cinema, Markopoulos set out for Europe for good in 1967, withdrawing his films from circulation and, in the process, turning his work into an elusive cult object. With the notion that the film-maker must be responsible for every aspect of their work, he conceived Temenos, a space of pilgrimage and monographic archive to present, restore and study his films, located in Arcadia, Greece, the place of his birth. The culmination of this project can be seen in Eniaios: twenty-two eighty-hour cycles reassembling his work and replacing sound with the mental rhythm brought about by the speed of brief images between black and white passages. Since 2004, this total artwork project has been screened every four years and represents a celebration of cinema. Markopoulos’ life is well documented and continues to resonate with the words he would quote from Mircea Eliade: The whole man is engaged when he listens to myths and legends; consciously or not, their message is always deciphered and absorbed in the end.