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News . Feature Stories . Press Release: Cleveland Institute of Art Gallery Director Honored with International and Ohio Film

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June 05, 2007

Press Release: Cleveland Institute of Art Gallery Director Honored with International and Ohio Film

Bruce Checefsky, director of The Cleveland Institute of Art's Reinberger Galleries, has won a 2007 ArtsLink Project Award from the international agency CEC ARTSLINK to produce and direct a documentary film about Polish filmmaker Andrzej Pawlowski.

Cleveland - Bruce Checefsky, director of The Cleveland Institute of Art's Reinberger Galleries, has won a 2007 ArtsLink Project Award from the international agency CEC ARTSLINK to produce and direct a documentary film about Polish filmmaker Andrzej Pawlowski.

Checefsky will travel to Warsaw in June to film interviews with Pawlowski's two sons and others who knew the artist personally or know his work. The documentary will premier near the end of the year at Warsaw 's Center for Contemporary Art in Ujazdowski Castle.

When he is not curating exhibits at The Cleveland Institute of Art, Checefsky pursues his work as an art photographer. He earned a master of fine arts (MFA) degree in photography from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1984 and began traveling to Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. While working on his first film, titled Pharmacy (2001), Checefsky discovered the works of Pawlowski, a painter, sculptor, industrial designer, photographer, educator and legendary avant-garde filmmaker.

Pawlowski designed industrial forms and exhibition arrangements and was a professor and co-creator of the Industrial Forms Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. His 1957 experimental film, Kineformy (Cineforms), consisted of projecting moving abstract models onto a screen using a special image-distorting lens.

"Pawlowski devised a light machine with two crank-like handles to move the models and the lenses," Checefsky explained. "The light passing through the lenses distorted the forms, resulting in a series of very complex images - wispy smoke, diaphanous curtains, passing ghosts and then suddenly solid organic forms." Pawlowski, who died in 1986, gained international fame with Kineformy and inspired a new generation of filmmakers and artists.

"What I like about producing and directing this type of film - an umade or lost film - is it is an interesting hybrid between curatorial and studio work," Checefsky said. "It involves a lot of research, networking, and trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together. The film on Pawlowski will not be your traditional documentary. I will experiment with different filming styles and formats."

In addition to the upcoming documentary, other films to Checefsky's credit include

  • "Musical Moment" (2006), a short film based on reviews, scripts and still photography from a 1933 film by Franciszka and Stefan Themerson;
  • "INNI (Others)," also 2006, which brings to life Pawlowski's previously un-produced script by the same name, which was based on an actual diary kept by a patient in a Krakow psychiatric asylum between 1943 and 1944;
  • "A Woman and Circles" (2003), a film based on a published but never-produced 1930 script by surrealist poet Jan Brzekowski.
  • "Pharmacy" (2001), a remake of "Apteka," the 1930 classic by the Themersons;

Checefsky's films have premiered at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, Northern Europe's most significant film festival, and continue to show at international film festivals around the world. "Pharmacy" has shown in over 15 countries and 40 cities, screening every month since its release more than five years ago, most recently at VGIK, the renowned film school in Russia where Sergio Eisenstein, Aleksander Nevsky, Arseny Tarkovsky, and other important filmmakers studied and later taught, according to Checefsky. All of his films have been featured at The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, the Institute's year-round program of art, foreign and independent film.

In March, Checefsky received a 2007 Individual Excellence Award in Film from the Ohio Arts Council honoring his body of work.

Checefsky was artist in residence at Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw in 2005, where he conducted extensive research, wrote and directed the film "INNI (Others)."

In addition to the Pawlowski documentary project, Checefsky plans to make a film based on a 1933 film scenario by American artist Joseph Cornell. "Cornell is a very influential American experimental filmmaker. The inspiration for many creative films made today can be attributed to his work," Checefsky said. Cornell is best known for his magical box assemblages.

CEC ARTSLINK is an international arts service organization that supports an exchange of artists and cultural managers between the United States and Central Europe, Russia and Eurasia. Founded in 1962 to counter-balance Cold War tensions and promote understanding, the group was originally known as Citizen Exchange Corps. More information is available at www.cecartslink.org

The Cleveland Institute of Art is an independent college of art and design committed to leadership and vision in all forms of visual arts education. The Institute makes enduring contributions to education and extends its programs to the public through gallery exhibits, lectures, a continuing education program and The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, an art and independent film program.

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