Light Industry hosts a rare double bill of Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler—two major figures in contemporary experimental cinema—featuring Dorsky’s portrait of Hiler, the pivotal Hours for Jerome, and a new print of Hiler’s In the Stone House. Seen together, these films reveal the deeply …
Light Industry hosts a rare double bill of Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler—two major figures in contemporary experimental cinema—featuring Dorsky’s portrait of Hiler, the pivotal Hours for Jerome, and a new print of Hiler’s In the Stone House. Seen together, these films reveal the deeply reciprocal nature of Dorsky and Hiler’s art. “Hours for Jerome was photographed from 1966 to 1970 both in New York City and in the countryside in New Jersey,” Dorsky recalls. “During the exact same period of time, Jerome was shooting footage which would eventually become In the Stone House. These two works are a personal mirror of one another, but have never been shown together. Most of the footage from both films was shot at the house we were renting on Lake Owassa near the Delaware River, about two hours from Manhattan. It was known by the neighbors as the stone house. We were both about 25 years old.”
Partners for almost fifty years, Dorsky and Hiler first met in New York City in the 1960s, where they were both mentored by Gregory Markopoulos, whose ultimate influence can be seen in their precise, idiomatic, and expressive approach to montage. After relocating for a few years to rural New Jersey, the pair moved to San Francisco in 1971, where they have lived ever since. There, the two continued to shoot film, but for many years chose to screen footage only privately, to small groups of friends.
Dorsky broke from this habit in 1980, when he began editing what would become Hours for Jerome; with its completion, Dorsky returned to public exhibition, and the film came to be celebrated as one of the key works marking a new direction for American avant-garde cinema. “Hours for Jerome is simply the most beautifully photographed film that I’ve ever seen,” Warren Sonbert wrote upon the film’s release. “Here cinema enters the realm of the compassionate; capturing the eye and the mind, in ways unlike the predictable arena of the structural film.” Hours can now be seen as the beginning of certain formal practices of Dorsky’s that reach into the present day, particularly the exclusive use of silent 16mm projected at 18 frames per second. Like films such as Compline (2009), Aubade (2010) or August and After (2012), it too investigates the play of light through different seasons, but with a greater emotional immediacy, achieved through a design closer to the diary films of Jonas Mekas. And if Dorsky’s recent films have given nods to specific musical genres, Hours for Jerome is undoubtedly a love ballad.
Hiler took much longer to bring his work back into the public eye, but did so most notably with Words of Mercury, which premiered to great acclaim at the New York Film Festival in 2011, and was later included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. Since then, Hiler’s annual presentation of new work has cemented his reputation. His films display a careful and subtle power all their own, pushing everyday events into a richly subjective realm. In the case of In the Stone House, Hiler documents the intimacies of the couple’s social life—visits from artist and poet friends, exploratory treks into the wilderness, a gathering for an eclipse—intercut with stretches of inky black leader that punctuate these images’ distance from the present day. “Viewers familiar with Dorsky’s films who see Hiler’s work for the first time might conclude that his greatest influence has been Dorsky’s mature cinema,” P. Adams Sitney recently observed. “Yet one might, with equal justification, claim that Hiler has been the primary influence on Dorsky.”
In the Stone House, Jerome Hiler, 16mm, 1967-70/2012, 35 mins
“In the Stone House records and recollects a period of life of four years in rural New Jersey. In the latter 1960s, two young guys with monastic leanings leave the clatter of Manhattan’s art and film scene to catch the wave of higher consciousness that was about to change the world forever to find themselves washed ashore in a place only slightly updated from Way Down East. The monastic retreat quickly turned into the weekend getaway for a host of extravagant Manhattanites seeking films and fun.” - JH
Hours for Jerome, Part One, Nathaniel Dorsky, 16mm, 1982, 21 mins
Hours for Jerome, Part Two, Nathaniel Dorsky, 16mm, 1982, 24 mins
“Hours for Jerome is an arrangement of images, energies, and illuminations from daily life. These fragments of light revolve around the four seasons and are very much a part of the youthful energy and poignant joy of my mid-twenties. Part One is spring through summer; Part Two is fall and winter. The title of the film refers to a ‘Book of Hours’ which, in medieval European Catholicism, was a series of prayers presented eight times every 24 hours. Each ‘hour’ had its own qualities from pre-dawn till very late at night and these qualities also changed through the progressing seasons of the year. They were traditionally illustrated by luminous miniature paintings, and were often titled ‘Hours for…’. Saint Jerome was a favorite subject of these illuminations and he is often depicted at his studies accompanied by a lion. The Jerome in Hours for Jerome is a close friend and filmmaker who is seen at his work or studies often with his cats. He is first seen reading the newspaper, then putting sugar in his coffee, contemplating a book of Mozart’s letters in a ‘rain and lightening’ storm, swimming, and writing a letter in blue; and in Part Two picking an apple, editing film, standing under a tree, reading, watching television during a snowstorm, and driving a car at twilight. So the title is a somewhat humorous reference to the medieval form, as this film is also a series of illuminations from different times of day and night progressing through the seasons. There is also the pun that so much of the film has to do with various kinds of time.” - ND
Tickets -$7, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.