Back in the fall of 2005, we presented a series of programs curated by Christian Marclay in conjunction with the Sound Unseen Film Festival. His program, Sound Art Cinema, took at the history of sound in film through everything from Walt Disney shorts to the incredible four-and-a-half hour Michael Snow film Rameau’s Nephew by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen.
Christian’s program included four films by Mauricio Kagel. It was a name I was familiar with, but I was not very aware of his work at the time. Kagel is likely best known as a composer that took a keen interest in the theatrical side of musical performance, but he was also an amazing filmmaker as well. I was given the charge of tracking down the Kagel work that Christian had selected. It was surprisingly difficult to find. The work rarely screens, and is not very well known at all outside of Europe. Through the process of tracking down prints or videos where prints were not available, I learned quite a bit about Kagel, and was able to see several of his films, beyond those that we were screening here at the Walker. His work really blew me away. He took an incredibly adventurous approach to his work, finding new ways to look at composition and performance, allowing his playfulness and odd sense of humor intermingle with an intensity and a profound innovation.
He will be missed.