As 92-year-old experimental film pioneer Jonas Mekas sits in front of his 1997 video Birth of a Nation, an intimate yet encyclopedic visual rolodex of the avant-garde film community in 170 portraits, he discusses the common thread that runs through his half-century-long career: reality. “Everything that I do is from real life. My own life, the lives of my friends, what I see around. I don’t select—I react with my camera,” Mekas explains. “I’m interested in the invisible daily life, which takes place in places like Burger King.” Burger King is the unlikely home of one of Mekas’ two exhibitions—together titled “The Internet Saga”—on view during this year’s Venice Biennale.
Mekas, with typical candor and a glimmer of mischievousness, has encroached upon Venice’s first and only Burger King (located in a splendid 16th-century palazzo) with a series of new works that draw from his everyday experience with the internet. Videos comprised of footage from Mekas’s daily online journal flash across the fast food chain’s existing display screens as patrons go about eating their burgers, reminding us of his mantra: “All my work is a celebration of reality. Everything is important.”