Robert Beavers (Brookline, USA, 1943) has mainly lived and worked in Europe. His films are filled with references to European culture and specific places and cities with which he establishes a very special relationship, creating correspondences between the architecture and topography of these spaces and the filmic forms.
In 1967, at the age of 18, Beavers arrived in Greece with a camera, film and a few words of advice from Gregory Markopoulos, a filmmaker who was crucial to his education. They met in New York in 1965, and from then until the Greek filmmaker’s death in 1992, they shared a life devoted to film. The 18 films in 16 mm that Beavers made during that period form part of a cycle that the author has titled My Hand Outstretched to the Winged Distance and Sightless Measure, a series that has resulted in a long process of re-editing his earlier work (1967-2002).
His first films present his method of working through elements that emphasize the actual cinematographic instruments (such as masks, filters, matte boxes and notes) and the direct intervention of his ‘hand’ in the image. After Work Done (1972-1999), the self reflective nature of his films becomes less direct; instead it is presented metaphorically, through parallels between the actual procedures of cinema and the archetypal forms of traditional work. In addition to his filmmaking, Robert Beavers has also worked on restoring Markopoulos’ films and the project The Temenos: the film archive in Switzerland and the screenings that take place every two years just outside the Greek town of Lyssarea.
Though his films were not publicly shown much in the 1970s and ‘80s, in recent years many institutions have devoted retrospectives to him, including the Tate Modern in London, the Whitney Museum in New York, the Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley and the Filmmuseum in Vienna.