Cinematic Incubation: Markopoulos and the Temenos Spectator



It is well-known, in histories of American avant-garde film, that Gregory Markopoulos left the U.S. in 1968 and went into self-imposed exile in Europe. The filmmaker, a central figure in the New American Cinema movement, became disgusted with the culture of film distribution and presentation; he wanted to devote himself to the ‘divine’ potential of cinema. In the wake of Markopoulos’ departure came the eighty hour Eniaios, a silent film designed to be seen exclusively at a site near his ancestral village in Arcadia at an event called the Temenos. Modeled after an ancient form of healing, or incubation, in which sick pilgrims slept in the god of healing Asclepius’ temple in hopes of receiving a curative dream, Eniaios was designed to have therapeutic impact for vision and psyche. In this presentation I will discuss the intersubjective power dynamic between Temenos viewer and artist/artwork. The spectator is required to “let go” and to submit to the challenges of viewing a film whose images are often too short to be legible. But she must also move beyond the thick outer crust of Markopoulos’ authoritative rhetoric of divinity and cure if she she is to truly discover its therapeutic potential — or determine that this potential is absent.

Rebekah Rutkoff is a New York-based writer and artist and is currently an Onassis Foundation fellow in Athens. She is the author of The Irresponsible Magician: Essays and Fictions, forthcoming from Semiotext(e), and the editor of a book about the American filmmaker Robert Beavers forthcoming from the Austrian Film Museum/Columbia University Press. Her work has appeared in publications including Artforum, Fence, Animal Shelter, Framework and World Picture Journal and she has exhibited and programmed moving image work internationally. She received a PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City and is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program and Princeton University.