Professor Ragona Publishes Catalog Essay on Jonas Mekas for Jewish Museum Exhibition

Posted on February 24, 2022

For the first US monograph on the artist Jonas Mekas, Professor Cash (Melissa) Ragona contributed the essay “Sonic Mekas.” The book catalogue is co-published by the Jewish Museum, Yale University Press, and the National Gallery of Art, Vilnius, marking the openings of both the Jewish Museum exhibition and a near-concurrent Mekas retrospective at the National Gallery of Art, Vilnius, Lithuania.

In “Sonic Mekas,” Ragona argues that the scholarly focus on Jonas Mekas’ intimate forms of cinema, i.e., the diary film, the home movie, the film journal, the film poem, has often evaded the importance of Mekas’s conceptual approaches to music, sound, and language. Discussing the impact that post WWII experimental composers and musicians such as John Cage, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Yoko Ono, John Cale, La Monte Young, Philip Glass, et. al. had on Mekas’ ideas about relationships between sound and image, Ragona also interrogates the performativity of Mekas’s own voice — in which he narrates the “trauma of exile” in affective, experimental forms.

Publisher website