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The Short Films of Richard Raxlen (1982 - 2002)

  • EMMEDIA Gallery and Production Society 2005 – 10 Avenue Southwest Calgary, AB, T3C 0K4 Canada (map)

The Short Films of Richard Raxlen (1982 - 2002)
16mm with Optical Sound - 57 minutes
Admission is by donation (pay what you can)

There will be an encore presentation on Thursday September 13, 2018, at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge.

MONOGRAPH is pleased to present six short 16mm films by Richard Raxlen. Created between 1982 and 2002, the selected works combine found materials, animation, structuralist techniques, Dadaist text, and absurdist humour. Raxlen says of the films:

JaffaGate, 1982–4 [5 min. 30 sec., 16mm, b&w and colour, sound]
“Using the optical printer, I slowed and reprinted an old minute of yellowed film shot in Jerusalem in the 1930s, given to me by a friend. What one sees is a time-frozen place where men of all nationalities seem to exist in peace. Some shy away from the camera, some are unaware of it. Others hide their faces, afraid of the magic instrument that will steal their souls. A music-box wind-up toy plays “Fleur de Lys” over the imagery. Something like a clock, the film seems both mechanistic and sad. A bittersweet feeling of yesterday’s possibilities – we see all manner of citizens commingled in the streets of old Jerusalem.”

Print courtesy of The Cinematheque, Vancouver

Leaving Montréal Behind, 1992 [25 min., 16mm]
“I’ve always wanted to leave Montreal, the place, and the state of mind that comes from living here. We see the city from a fourth floor studio looking west onto Ontario Street. A music track by Denis Geugon, a Montreal composer, lingers over city scenes. Night on St. Laurent Blvd, the stores with their odd windows; the snow and the pigeons and the Raxlen family skating, playing, posing. A meditation on place and space and where we live and how we live there.”

The Geometry of Beware, 1998 [7 min., 16mm]
“This short animated film is based on a found piece of 16mm black and white silent film. In the early 80s, while doing video art in New York State, I bought an old tin projector in a junk shop. The film reel on the projector had a remnant of a Mutt and Jeff cartoon made in 1926. . . . Fifteen years later, I used the found film, deconstructing and reconstructing it as a source, and made The Geometry of Beware.”

Deadpan, 2000 [8 min., 16mm, colour animation, soundtrack by Karel Roessingh.]
“The dinner table was an anxious place during my early childhood. A maid, tablecloth, silver bell, and no laughing. Tongue was served. It looked like tongue, it felt like tongue, it tasted like tongue. Father was nervous, mother was anxious. The chandelier was shiny bright but it was a dreary dark time.”

Rude Roll, 2001 [5 min., 16mm]
“Using the back of three LP jackets from the 70s, I Xeroxed the photomontages of How-to-Dance ska on the backs of the jackets and added some sequences from How-to-Animate books. A dub reggae track by Mossman moves this film piece along.”

The Brand New Triathlon, 2002 [9 min., 16mm/VHS, b&w]
“Using a Javanese gamelon track, I featured cricket, bowling, and tai chi in a new triathlon. I copied from books via Xerox, and traced and worked up photo-based sequences from the books into an animation. It is pre-rotoscope. I had to animate from photo-studies à la Edward Muybridge.”

Richard Raxlen considers himself an artist who uses film, rather than a filmmaker, whatever that means. Picasso said "It takes a long time to become young." So Raxlen guesses he's young now. Rick worked at the NFB when Lipsett, MacLaren and Larkin were there, taught at Concordia, and won one of only two Genies ever awarded to Best Experimental Film (then called Canadian Film Awards) for an image-processed West Coast Native legend about face-changing called "Legend." His short avant-garde work has been on five Ann Arbor tours; he recently sold eight 16mm prints to the Western Archive at the Pacific Cinematheque, and has screened work in the National Gallery, Cinematheque Quebecois, Cinematheque Ontario, etc. Raxlen's first feature "Horses in Winter" was named "one of the best films of the eighties" by the Cinematheque Quebecois; Claude Jutra fell asleep beside Rick at the Cinematheque Quebecois one time years ago. Despite these claims to fame, Raxlen is virtually unknown outside of Victoria and Montreal.

MONOGRAPH would like to thank Richard and Susy Raxlen and Peter Sandmark, as well as our partner organizations EMMEDIA Gallery and Production Society and the Southern Alberta Art Gallery for making this presentation possible.