Ed Bowes

Ed Bowes

Fellow: Awarded 2010
Field of Study: Video & Audio

Competition: US & Canada

School of Visual Arts

Well known for his films that explore memory, thought, the spaces around and inside the characters and the viewer, through his wedding of lush imagery and both spoken and written poetry, Ed Bowes is widely recognized as one of the most innovative filmmakers today.

Educated at Le Moyne College and the New School for Social Research, he began his career in New York City, working as an assistant to filmmaker and photographer Arnold Eagle on Eagle’s projects with such notables as Hans Richter, Cornel Capa, Gjon Mili, and Philippe Halsman. His subsequent work on feature films as assistant editor (for Paper Lion) and unit manager (Alice’s Restaurant and A New Leaf) attracted the attention of producer Hillard Elkins, who hired him to develop and line produce such projects as Jacques Levi’s Revolution for the Hell of It and Elkin’s version of A Doll’s House.

Breaking out on his own in the 1970s, Bowes’ videos Sexless and matter (both 1973) with Bernadette Mayer and the number of, niggle, and headland (all 1974) with Clark Coolidge were all screened in 1975 at the Holly Solomon Gallery in his first exhibition. The following year, Romance had a four-night screening at The Kitchen, among other venues, and was also televised on WNYC. But perhaps his greatest success in that decade was Better, Stronger (1978-79): it was not only shown in New York City at The Kitchen and MoMA, but was screened in venues across Europe and the United States, including the U.S. Film Festival. When it was televised on WNET’s The TV Lab in 1979, it won for the network its highest ratings of the year.

Over the next two decades he made five more videos—How to Fly (1981-83); Beyond the Sound of Music (1985), a documentary on Austrian musicians commissioned by Austrian national television; Desert News (1987), based on a poem cycle by Ed Freidman; Splitting Glass (1989-91); and Picture Book (2001-03)—all of which had widespread exposure both in the U.S. and abroad, on television or in gallery or film festival venues. He also collaborated extensively with his wife, poet Anne Waldman, an active member of the Outrider experimental poetry movement, on six short vignettes: La Jolie Russe (2003), Menage (2004), Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment (2004), Tanks Under Trees (2007), also with dancer Douglas Dunn; and The Age of the Velocipede (2007) and GRRHH: A Tribute to Michael McClure (2009), both with poet Lisa Jarnot.

At the same time that he was writing, shooting, and directing these videos, he was also teaching, having taken up an appointment in 1980 at the School of Visual Arts as both an Instructor and the Chair of the B.F.A. thesis committee. In 1992, he was appointed Director of SVA’s Video Program and he also started as an instructor in its M.F.A. program in photography, video, and film, positions he still holds.

With Flip (2005-06), which premiered at the Alliance Francais in New York City in 2006, Bowes began a series of videos that, in his words, “experiment with the relationships between word and image, idea and feeling.” Against the Slope of Speech (2007) and Entanglement (2009), which was written with Anne Waldman, followed. During his Guggenheim Fellowship term, he plans to finish work on Time/Contradiction, a ninety-minute “fictive video” inspired by Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out and the poetry of Emily Dickinson and Anne Waldman.


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