Published: Sept. 21, 2023

Calling all experimental film scholars and media art enthusiasts! The Brakhage Center for Media Arts and the University Libraries are hosting a two-day symposium, October 5 and 6, celebrating the work of filmmakers Ken and Flo Jacobs.

Entitled Living Archives, Living Cinema: Processing the Work of Ken and Flo Jacobs, the event will inaugurate an archival collection of original papers, production material, writing, teaching materials and media recently donated to the Libraries Rare and Distinctive Collections (RaD). Encompassing personal records and correspondence, filmmaking records, rare and unique books, and sound and video recordings, the collection includes family and biographical material relevant to the Jacobs’ creative work and relationships with artists, filmmakers, scholars, and other figures. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) recently acquired Ken Jacobs' films and videos.

The event will have an all-star roster, including some Chicago and New York-based artists and scholars who promote education and research in experimental film and media art.

“The Brakhage Center is thrilled to be putting on this event that celebrates Ken and Flo Jacobs, along with the amazing new archival collection now available for researchers. In 2015, we hosted a symposium also devoted to the work of Ken Jacobs, and featuring among other scholars and critics, the remarkable Tom Gunning,” says Hanna Rose Shell, faculty director of the Brakhage Center for Media Arts and associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History and Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts. “We are so privileged to have Tom return to Boulder to share a program he’s curated and give a talk about the role of the archive in Ken and Flo’s creative practice.”

Additionally, the symposium will feature Azazel Jacobs, award-winning filmmaker and Ken and Flo Jacobs’ son, as well as curator Andrew Lampert, whose exhibition of Ken Jacobs’ work was recently named a Critics Pick by the New York Times, and Josh Siegal, film curator at MoMA.

Free and open to the public, the Ken and Flo Jacobs symposium is just one of many collaborations between the Brakhage Center for Media Arts and the University Libraries to enable new ways for students, faculty and the public to access film and media art archives and materials.

“For me personally,” says Shell, “It’s been a pleasure to have the opportunity to collaborate closely with the Library’s moving image archivist, Jamie Marie Wagner, in what I hope will be the very first of many productive and exciting cross-pollinations.”

The symposium will kick off with a lunchtime screening of Ken Jacobs’ film Keeping An Eye On Stan (2003), a portrait of the visionary filmmaker Stan Brakhage, at the Brakhage Center on October 5. RaD also possesses an archival collection of Brakhage's papers. The opening reception will be held in the Center for British and Irish Studies (CBIS) in Norlin Library, accompanied by a pop-up exhibit of the Jacobs' collection. The symposium will screen Momma’s Man (2008), filmed in the Tribeca loft apartment Ken and Flo have lived in since the 1960's and where they play versions of themselves, followed by Q&A with director Azazel Jacobs at the ATLAS Institute.

The itinerary for October 6 will include a panel discussion on processing the work of Ken and Flo Jacobs, presentations by both CU Boulder and visiting scholars, and additional screenings of films by Ken Jacobs. These screenings will include Urban Peasants (1975), which combines 1930s home movie footage from the family of Flo Jacobs with archival audio from a Yiddish language course and Sky Socialist (1968) one of Ken's only narrative films, which stars Flo Jacobs and is a rumination on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The event is hosted by the Brakhage Center with collaboration and co-sponsorship from the University Libraries and additional support from the Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts, the Program in Jewish Studies, the William H. Donner Foundation, and the Roser Visiting Artist Program.

For a more detailed itinerary, click here for information.