Kusama - Infinity
Agnes Martin - Two Film Documents
Yayoi Kusama and Agnes Martin are amongst the few female artists who gained worldwide recognition. But Kusama, born in Japan in 1929, and Martin, a native Canadian (1912-2004), share more than that. Both grew up in difficult and limiting circumstances, both, in one way or the other, had to assert themselves in the male dominated New York Avant-garde of the 1960s, both suffered from hallucinations. And yet, in Heather Lenz’ long-term observation and Mary Lance’s portrait sketches we meet two artists with very different personalities and highly individual artistic form languages.
In 2012, Mary Lance‘s full-length documentary With my Back to the World was presented at DOKUARTS and met with great popularity. On occasion of the international Martin retrospective, Lance now uses unpublished material to create an unerring portrait through two short films.
Kusama’s work, too, is currently acknowledged in an exhibition that tours North America. In retrospect, her infinity rooms as well as her net and dot images almost seem to be prophetic. Today, the artist who admitted herself in a psychiatric clinic where she lives since 1977, enjoys cult status; her extraordinary biography marked by sexism, racism and mental illness certainly furnishes enough material.
But cult is what Lenz has consciously avoided in her insightful portrait. No less than 17 years the filmmaker invested to create her intelligent montage from archive material and numerous interviews. Her film recounts Kusama’s fascinating and ambivalent story and it never loses sight of the artist’s visual universe as centre of her life.
Writer, director and producer Heather Lenz Lenz has degrees in Art History and Fine Arts and earned an MFA in Cinematic Arts from the University of Southern California. She is drawn to stories about people with creative minds who have not walked the beaten path. Her first short documentary about a bicycle inventor, Back to Back, was nominated for a student Academy Award and screened in film festivals worldwide. Lenz first became interested in Yayoi Kusama while studying art in the early ‘90s. She felt strongly that Kusama’s contributions to the American art world had been largely overlooked. Lenz originated the film on Kusama and has worked for over a decade to bring the story to the screen. Lenz never imagined that during the making of the film Kusama would become the top-selling female artist in the world.