Robert Beavers’s The Sparrow Dream and Other Films
Sunday, Mar 19, 2023 at 3:30 p.m.
Museum of the Moving Image, N.Y.C
Part of First Look 2023
Robert Beavers: Recent Films
Open City Festival, London, September 10, 2022
Three films by Robert Beavers
at Arsenal, Berlin, 29 January 2022
Porträt und Experimentalfilm
Kuratiert von Maja Naef
Freitag, 05. November 2021, 19:00
The Sparrow Dream
29 minutes, 16mm, color, sound, 2022
My starting point was a question about how places where I have lived have influenced how I see.
I returned to one or two locations in Berlin that I had filmed for Diminished Frame in 1970. One was the milestone opposite Schloss Charlottenburg. In 1970, the milestone stood as a somber sphere topped by a Prussian spike, filmed in black and white; now I see it as a golden globe surrounded by regenerate leaves with a view to Fortuna. I also found the statue that I had filmed in Brooklyn in 2002 standing in Leopoldplatz, Wedding.
Filming in Berlin and Massachusetts: The turning pages of a child’s version of the Odyssey and the site of a Korean War monument in my hometown, Weymouth, suggest different sides of the same subject: Nostos* or homecoming. The vision of Greece, first awakened in my childhood, remains a source. Despite different histories, one culture reflects another:
“Why have I returned to film these places, which I left so many years ago?”
“For the deep view it gives now.”
Each morning in Berlin, I remove the ashes from the ceramic furnace in my room before lighting the new coals; each time a different thought arises while I look at the flames. It seems that there is an infinite number of qualities in fire.
Months after completing the film, I read by chance Osip Mandelstam’s statement : “Hellenism means consciously surrounding man with utensils [utvar] instead of indifferent objects; the metamorphosis of these objects into utensil, the humanization of the sourrounding world; the environment heated with the most delicate teleological warmth. Hellenism is any stove near which a man sits, prizing its warmth as something related to his own inner warmth. Finally, Hellenism is the boat of the dead in which Egyptian corpses set sail, in which everything is stored that is needed for continuation of a man’s earthly wanderings, including even an aromatic jar, a hand mirror, and a comb. Hellenism is a system, in the Bergsonian sense of the word, which man unfolds around himself, like a fan of phenomena liberated from temporal dependence, commonly subordinated to an inner bond through the human ‘I’.”
R.B. August, 2022
*“nostos: return, homecoming; song about homecoming; return to light and life
The word nostos is derived from the Indo-European root *nes- ‘return to light and life’; from Indo-European languages other than Greek, we see that this root occurs in myths having to do with Morning Star / Evening Star. The morning star “that heralds the approach of dawn” which shines as Odysseus comes back to Ithaca indicates that Odysseus is returning from the dead as well as from his journey.”