Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Film Studies

A SENSE OF SIGHT: A Special Issue Devoted to Stan Brakhage

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Film Studies

A SENSE OF SIGHT: A Special Issue Devoted to Stan Brakhage

Article excerpt

I wasn't trying to invent new ways of being a filmmaker; that was just a by-product of my struggle to come to a sense of sight.

Stan Brakhage, interviewed by Scott MacDonald1

To honour the memory of one of film's greatest visual artists and to highlight his special relationship with Canada, the Film Studies Association of Canada/ Association canadienne d'études cinématographiques devoted a plenary session to "Brakhage's Canada/Canada's Brakhage" at its annual conference in the spring of 2004. That session provided the impetus for this special issue of CJFS/ RCEC devoted to Stan Brakhage, who died in March 2003, not long after he retired from teaching at the University of Colorado at Boulder and set up a new home with his wife, Marilyn, and their sons, Vaughn and Anton, in Victoria, British Columbia.

Two contributions to this issue originated as papers for "Brakhage's Canada/Canada's Brakhage": Marilyn Brakhage's article on City Streaming and Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof s on Brakhage, Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. A third, Bart Testa's on Brakhage's Vancouver Island Films, also falls within the Brakhage-and-Canada thematic. While Testa gives special attention to two of the films Brakhage shot on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Marilyn Brakhage concentrates on a film he shot during the few months he and Marilyn were living in Toronto in 1989. Both authors relate the films to other works in Brakhage's oeuvre and to the personal and aesthetic preoccupations that produced them. Pruska-Oldenhof explores formal and thematic concerns Brakhage shared with some of Canada's best-known painters. The title of her article, "The Aesthetics of Menace," alludes to one of the essays Brakhage wrote for the Toronto-based journal Mmicworks. Most of those essays are collected in Brakhage's last book, Telling Time: Essays of a Visionary Filmmaker. Brett Kashmere's review of that book appears in this issue, as does Brakhage's previously unpublished lecture on Canadian painters and filmmakers presented in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1988. That document (which is an early version of a lecture Brakhage presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1989 and a series of essays on "Space as Menace in Canadian Aesthetics" written for Musicworks and brought together in Telling Time), Kashmere's book review, and the articles by Testa, Pruska-Oldenhof, and Marilyn Brakhage demonstrate Brakhage's long-standing engagement with Canadian life, art and culture. …

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