Monday, May 10, 2010

Shock and not-quite-awe. It has been a week of incredible stress: on Monday, 3 May, Esiaba Irobi died. He had been at the International Research Center since November; he had been part of the opening panel discussion of the Think Tank: Identity Politics at the Dahlem Humanities Center on Thursday, 8 April, and then gave a lecture as part of the symposium the day after. He was working feverishly, almost as if he were trying to defy the inevitable. When he came to Berlin, he had just finished his treatments for cancer; he didn't want to wait to see if the cancer was, in fact, in remission. He wanted so badly to start a new life, to find some intellectual excitement, which he didn't feel he was getting where he was teaching. But by December, the cancer had returned, and he was struggling with treatments and fatigue. And now, it's over, though so many problems remain. His wife is facing massive problems: there is the house in Ohio, there is the situation of his first wife and son in London, where will the funeral be held? The last has been decided: the funeral will happen in Nigeria, but that means arrangements have to be made to repatriate the body. But i have to say that everyone at the Center has really stepped up to the plate, as it were, and they have been incredibly helpful and supportive and decisive. That much is very impressive.

I just received the news that Callie Angell has died. I'm really in shock: i've known Callie for 40 years. It's the 40th Anniversary of the founding of Anthology Film Archives, and Callie was the first librarian there. Callie was the librarian, Linda Patton was... i forgot what her title actually was, it would be something like Executive Director, though i'm not sure if it was that. Jonas Mekas (of course) was the director (Artistic Director, whatever). I saw Callie in October, when she was here for Live Film! Jack Smith! at the Kino Arsenal and the HAU. She seemed to have problems: her legs were very swollen. It turned out that she was battling diabetes, and, in this case, it was a losing battle.

I'm very sad, because she's one of the people that was part of that first period of what i guess i would call my career: Jonas Mekas, P. Adams Sitney, Linda Patton, Robert Polidori, Ric Stanberry, and Callie were the staff of Anthology Film Archives, and Donald Richie, Adrienne Mancia, Larry Kardish, Eileen Bowser, and Charles Silver were the staff at The Museum of Modern Art's Department of Film. Robert Polidori has a photo exhibit here in Berlin which opened over the weekend; the notice i got didn't indicate an official opening, but i planned to see the show.

When i first met Callie, she had frizzy hair and thick eyeglasses, rather like Anne Hathaway at the beginning of "The Princess Diaries". But then, when i saw her again after many years (by that point, she'd become the curator for the Andy Warhol Film Archives, which is a joint project of The Whitney Museum and The Museum of Modern Art, funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation), she'd cut her hair and it was white, and she wasn't wearing those thick glasses anymore. But she was really dedicated, and there were so many interconnections with Warhol's films and the work of other filmmakers. I can't even imagine that this happened. There really isn't that much time. Warhol (of course) used real time in his films, but even that wasn't enough for time to have a stop.


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