|2021 EDITION / ARTISTS IN FOCUS / WANDERING STAR: A TRIBUTE TO ROBERT FENZ (1969-2020)|
Robert Fenz was a visionary filmmaker and artist whose dynamic moving images speak directly to his passionate connection to place and the fleeting, untold histories he so skillfully reanimated. Inspired by the great street photography of the 1950s and 1960s and dedicated to shooting film as film, Fenz invented extraordinary beautiful, innovative and often rapturous images that gave vital form to his notion of the cinema as an expressive form able to challenge dominant perceptions of the world.
For Fenz cinema did not need sound to give voice to those unwritten chapters of revolutionary change around the world that so fascinated him. While most of Fenz’s films are silent his passion for jazz inspired the soundtracks of key films, including Vertical Air and Meditations on Revolution Part V: Lonely City, as well as his on-going collaboration with trumpeter and composer Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith. Fenz’s magnum opus remains his five part film, Meditations on Revolution that brought him around the world to return to charged sites of momentous change across the Americas in the last century, creating a lyrical, mournful, ruminative chronicle about humankind’s limited potential to remake the world as a better place. Robert Fenz was a virtuosic cinematographer whose skills led to collaborative projects with the likes of Chantal Akerman, Peter Hutton, Sharon Lockhart and Robert Gardner, celebrated artists whose own work all bear the unacknowledged influence of Robert Fenz.
This retrospective assembles a cross-section of Robert Fenz’s cinema and vision. The Harvard Film Archive will be working in the coming months and years to preserve Fenz’s films, including his unfinished works, and to make them available for screenings and study. Revelations are certain.
—Haden Guest, Director, Harvard Film Archive. All notes by Haden Guest except when noted.