Ghosts of a Different Dream: The Films of Lewis Klahr
Ghosts of a Different Dream: The Films of Lewis Klahr

The happiest moments of my childhood were spent at my grandparent’s home. My metal cabinets of memories contain many folders of the sights, sounds, and smells of those days. They sometimes feel so real, so close, so clear. Yet, they aren’t and I’m not sure they ever really were. Maybe they’re from snippets of home movies or slide shows; perhaps overheard recollections from other family members. How much of what I think I desire was real to begin with?

Memory and nostalgia are deceptive bastard siblings of fiction. They entice you to crave something you can’t every quite reach and might never have had to begin with.

A similar ruptured intersection between reality, consumerism, memory, and dreamscape seeps through many of the multi-layered collage films of Lewis Klahr. Utilizing an assortment of found imagery (e.g. magazine ads, home movies, contact sheets, porn, comic books) and sounds, Klahr’s characters drift through disconnected times and spaces craving a connection, a touch, a voice and ultimately a sense of self that, like a dream, always seems to be just out of reach even when its right there in front of them.

For this rare 16mm screening, Lewis Klahr has personally culled together a selection of his short films from his vast and impressive body of work. (Chris Robinson)


Les moments les plus heureux de ma jeunesse, je les ai passés chez mes grands-parents. Mes classeurs en métal de souvenirs contiennent plusieurs dossiers des images, des sons et des odeurs de ces journées. Ils ont parfois l’impression d’être si réels, si près, si clairs. Mais, ils ne le sont pas, et je ne suis pas certain qu’ils ne l’aient jamais été. Peut-être sont-ils des clichés de vidéos maison ou de présentations de diapositives; peut-être des souvenirs racontés par d’autres membres de la famille. De tout ce que je crois désirer, qu’est-ce qui a réellement existé?

La mémoire et la nostalgie sont des sœurs illégitimes et trompeuses de la fiction. Elles nous poussent à vouloir des choses qu’on ne peut jamais vraiment atteindre et qu’on n’a peut-être même jamais eues.

Une intersection rompue entre la réalité, le consumérisme, la mémoire et les mondes de rêves similaire imprègne plusieurs des films de collages aux multiples couches de Lewis Klahr. À l’aide d’un vaste choix d’imagerie (p. ex. des publicités dans des magazines, des films maison, des feuilles de coordonnées, de la pornographie, des bandes-dessinées) et de sons, les personnages de Klahr se glissent au travers de moments déconnectés et d’espaces rêvant d’une connexion, un toucher, une voix, et ultimement, un sens de soi qui, comme un rêve, semble toujours être hors de portée, même lorsque droit devant eux.

Pour cette projection rare de 16 mm, Lewis Klahr a personnellement regroupé une sélection de courts métrages provenant de son vaste et impressionnant portfolio. (Chris Robinson)

(1995) 8:00 | Color 16mm
ALTAIR is possibly the most beautiful film I will ever create. Inspired in equal parts by Joseph Cornell, classic Hollywood melodrama and the often undervalued experimental film genre Psychodrama. 

Elsa Kirk (1999) 5:18 | 16mm
In the mid 1990’s I unearthed three photographic contact sheets of 3 different women in a thrift store in the East Village. Only one was named and dated-- Elsa Kirk, Feb 22 ‘63. Who was she? This film offers a fictional portrait of Ms. Kirk and NY City in the early 1960's. Since the film's release I have received more concrete descriptions of her identity from her old friend and her daughter.

Pony Glass (1997) 15:00 | 16mm
Pony Glass is the story of comic book character Jimmy Olsen’s secret life. In this 3 act melodrama- each act has its own song- Superman’s pal embarks on his most adult adventure as he navigates the treacherous shoals of early 60’s romance trying to resolve a sexual identity crisis of epic proportions.
 “Well, the word ‘melodrama’ has rather lost its meaning nowadays: people tend to lose the ‘melos’ in it, the music.”-- Douglas Sirk (from Sirk on Sirk).

Her Fragrant Emulsion (1987) 10:36 | Color 16mm (blown up from Super 8)
Mothlight meets Rose Hobart.-- Henry Hills, Filmmaker
Her Fragrant Emulsion is an obsessional homage to the 60's B-film actress Mimsy Farmer created by cutting up existing images and making a new film strip by gluing them to clear leader.

Station Drama (1990) 13:30 | B&W Silent digital file transferred from Super 8
Starring Paula Clements Sager, Station Drama was inspired by the pioneering aviatrix Beryl Markham' memoir West with the Night. A part of my epic 12 film super 8 series Tales of the Forgotten Future, I never could make a good print of it and this recent transfer to Digital feels like it will finally allow Station Drama to have a life.

High Rise (2017) 2:00 | digital file
The video component of my 2D collage, Streets, which was exhibited in Circumstantial Pleasures, my solo show, a joint presentation of Anthony Reynolds Gallery and Grieder Contemporary, Zurich in 2016.

Sugar Slim Says (2010) 8:00 | digital file 16:9
Music: Lump and Like A Nurse by Marc Anthony Thompson performed by Chocolate Genius Inc from his album Swansongs
Sugar Slim Says is a part of my ongoing series The Couplets in which pop songs are paired to explore the vicissitudes of romantic love. It was selected by ArtForum magazine as one of the best films of 2010. Musician Mark Anthony Thompson (aka Chocolate Genius Incorporated) and I became friends because our sons were classmates. He played me his new album and I showed him some of my recent films and we got excited about collaborating. This film is the result.

Two Hours To Zero (2004) 8:32 | Color 16mm
Music by Rhys Chatham: “Guitar Trio”
Two Hours To Zero is an ecstatic nine minute Ben Day ballet accompanied by Rhys Chatham's monumental "Guitar Trio". Pure Pop for Noir people. -- Chris Stults, Film Comment

Daylight Moon (2002) 13:11 | Color 16mm
Of all the films I’ve made using collage to muck around in the past, this one gets the closest to what I’m after.-- LK "Daylight Moon: Hints of a crime drama hang over the generally abstract proceedings in one of the most exhilarating explorations of light, shadow, color, rhythm, and melancholy in recent cinema. It's a virtuosic work of subtlety, seemingly composed of the type of memories Proust termed 'impressions,' which also carry the weight of existence."-- Chris Stults, Film Curator, The Wexner Center for the Arts



Thursday, September 27 7pm SnapUp Tickets - Lewis Klahr Short Films 
Sunday, September 30 1pm   SnapUp Tickets - Lewis Klahr Short Films