Podcast: A description of the scrapbooks by Richard Deming, lecturer in the Department of English at Yale University — Jane Wodening and Stan Brakhage Scrapbooks, 1958-1967
Jane Wodening, then Jane Brakhage, assembled three remarkable scrapbooks in the early 1960s, when she was the wife and muse of experimental film maker Stan Brakhage. Celebrated today as a pioneer in avant-garde cinema, Stan Brakhage was just gaining recognition for his non-narrative and hand painted films during the period documented by the scrapbooks. Wodening created the scrapbooks from literal “scraps” of their family life, Brakhage’s creative process, and the artistic communities of which they were a part. Pages are covered with the widest array of verbal and visual materials including but not limited to letters, manuscripts, photographs, original art, clippings, pamphlets, filmstrips, and flyers. The scrapbooks demonstrate, too, Jane’s own aesthetic vision and creative drive.
The books document a crucial time in Stan Brakhage’s career (during which he made some 30 films, including Dog Star Man, one of his most important) and in the Brakhages’ lives, a period during which they encountered and shared lively creative exchanges with many filmmakers, artists, Beat Generation poets, and other writers. Writers and artists who are, in some way, “contributors” to the scrapbooks include: Kenneth Anger, Wallace Berman, Joseph Cornell, Robert Creeley, Guy Davenport, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan, Jess, Robert Kelly, Gregory Markopoulos, Michael McClure, Jonas Mekas, Carolee Schneemann, and Louis Zukofsky. “We were all young and wild and articulate and creative,” Jane Wodening has written about the creative community of the period, “we were right; we were gods; we were going to change the world, bring it around to sheer truth.”