A filmmaker who draws on all his skills-as producer, director, cameraman, editor, and sound engineer-to provide a unique vision, Robert Beavers has created a body of poetic work that is meticulously composed, yet sensuous and astoundingly beautiful. Shot largely in Italy and Greece and then edited in Switzerland, Beavers's elegantly lyrical films draw on European landscape, art, and architecture to deeply explore aural and visual perception and the filmic medium itself. Musical, metaphorical, and magical, these films aspire to convey, as the artist says, “the serenity of a thought without words.”
Beavers, who has made films since the mid-sixties, recently re-edited and created new soundtracks for his eighteen-film cycle My Hand Outstretched to the Winged Distance and Sightless Measure, of which the films in our series are a part. Our programs will arc from his early films such as From the Notebook Of… and Early Monthly Segments to the recent The Ground and The Hedge Theater. The latter explore what Beavers has called “prismatic space,” in which objects are complexly examined and elucidated through a series of visual equivalences. In The Ground, a stonecutter at work, the rocky Greek landscape, and a cupped hand against a bare chest are intercut to bring forth rhythmic and emotional echoes linking filmmaking with the mason's craft. Greece has been an ongoing inspiration. Shot largely in Athens and the Peloponnesus, the homoerotic Sotiros interweaves an unspoken dialogue and a seen dialogue with sunlight as it traverses a room. Light is also central to The Stoas, which features the Athenian industrial arcades that give the film its title along with a peaceful rural river. References to art and literature abound as Beavers finds “the present in the past and the past in the present.” From the Notebook Of… refers both to Leonardo da Vinci's notebook and to Beavers's own notations on filmmaking, while the Baroque architecture of Francesco Borromini and a painting by Sienese painter Il Sassetta are featured alongside the timeless activity of sewing a buttonhole in The Hedge Theater.
Until recently, Beavers rarely presented his films in public, and never in the United States. In the last few years, screenings of his work in London, New York, Paris, Rotterdam, and Toronto have generated awe, acclaim, and excitement in both the art and film worlds. We are pleased that on the occasion of a residency at PFA sponsored by the Consortium for the Arts at UC Berkeley, Beavers will introduce three public programs of his work as well as participate in a workshop with students. Robert Beavers was last our guest in 1997, when he presented the films of Gregory Markopoulos.