Entitled Fall into Ruin (2017), the work tells the story of the life and legacy of Alexander Iolas, the Greek art dealer and collector who at the height of his career owned galleries in New York, Paris, Milan, Geneva, Madrid and Athens. Known for his association with the Surrealists, Iolas gave Andy Warhol his first solo exhibition in 1952, and helped to form the collection of the great arts patrons John and Dominique de Menil before retiring to Athens in the 1980s amidst the decadence and splendor of the ‘Villa Iolas’.
Envisaging his house as a contemporary art museum, Iolas attempted to donate his collection to the Greek government. Following his death in 1987 from AIDS, however, Iolas’s property in Athens was looted. His collection, which included artifacts and art from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, as well as pieces by the artists Iolas worked with, including Max Ernst, René Magritte, and Man Ray amongst many others, vanished. The empty house was completely vandalised and today stands as a modern ruin.
Fall into Ruin sees Jones return to the sites he first visited at the age of 19 and revisit the story of Alexander Iolas through views of the villa in its current ruined state, shots of contemporary Athens and antiquities on display at the National Archaeological Museum. In the film’s essayistic voice-over, Jones tells the story of his connection to Iolas and reflects upon the circumstances resulting in the villa’s ruin. Equal parts memoir, celebration, and lament, the video examines the value systems that made Iolas’s rarefied milieu possible and those that eventually allowed it to fall apart. The original photographs Jones took of Villa Iolas in 1982, which were only printed this year, are exhibited alongside the film.
The 16th edition of microcinema, a weekend of screenings of artists’ films and talks, will take place on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October 2017. This year’s microcinema will for the first time have its own dedicated venue at the Howard Theatre, Downing College Cambridge. All sessions are free of charge and feature an introduction and artist Q&A with James Mackay, programme curator. A skype Q&A with William E. Jones is also planned.
Please visit https://www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk/strands/microcinema for the full programme and screenings schedule.