A word with Jonas Mekas

Last year, the artist talked to ArtReview about May 1968, its legacy and the importance of looking forward

Outtakes from the Life of a Happy Man (still), 2012. Courtesy the artist

From a series of texts by artists and thinkers, who reflect on the legacy and 50th anniversary of the events of May 1968.

I never think of the past. Every moment takes place now, every moment is in the present. Even when you are thinking back on events, or looking back at recordings from years ago, your response is in this moment. It’s so easy to be caught in the routine of what’s around you, to be dragged into the system. The only way to escape that routine is through some drastic break. Progress isn’t linear, you have to make jumps, otherwise you only end up repeating yourself. The Anthology Film Archives in 1970 might, like any artistic movement, have looked like a clique but we were really a group of people who wanted to escape what surrounded us. That bound us together, we supported each other. We all felt in the 1960s that we could be different in the style of our filmmaking and yet together, supporting each other. We are in another moment of transition now. But we should not attach too much importance to what’s happening now, we should not make judgements about whether it is positive or negative. We should think of it like George Maciunas, take it with a smile, everything will pass, that’s the lesson of Fluxus. The most recent film on my website is about the students protesting guns in the United States [on the March for our Lives]. I find their passion very inspiring. When those young people stood up and spoke to the crowds it was extremely powerful. I think what this generation is coming through is very interesting. Good things are coming.

From the May 2018 issue of ArtReview