Archive as a Creative Act: The Absolute Cinema of Gregory J. Markopoulos and the Temenos Utopia

Archive as a Creative Act: The Absolute Cinema of Gregory J. Markopoulos and the Temenos Utopia

Artists who produce archives from their own work approach archival activity as a creative gesture: here, the archive literally becomes a work of art. In parallel with the “archival impulse” that has run through contemporary art since the 1960s, this research project examines the “performative agency” of archives when they are constituted from “image acts”. The selected corpus is based on an extremely singular case, the cinematographic work of Gregory J. Markopoulos (1928-1992) and the Temenos archives.

Research project (2023) with François Bovier

Balthazar Lovay, Mathilde Coué

Conceived in the 1970s and built up since the 1980s, this archive brings together the filmic, critical and theoretical productions of the Greek-American experimental filmmaker, as well as everything relating to the films of his companion Robert Beavers. Temenos is at once an archive, a festival dedicated to Gregory J. Markopoulos's last film cycle, Eniaios (1948-1990, approximately 80 hours), which has been held every four years since 2004, and a utopian project: "film as film", or a total work responding to a filmic absolute. This work-archive is explored through two main axes: an exhibition and a series of publications. At a time when the exhibition of moving images is becoming more widespread, the challenge is to look back at a series of films shot by one artist on film, and to present them in their concrete form in an exhibition space. Looped 16mm projections or linear projections following a fixed schedule will be confronted with enlargements of photograms and archival documents, all closely linked to films by Gregory J. Markopoulos that predate Eniaios but are included in this cycle. This cycle radicalises the notion of archive-creation: the earlier films are reedited, modified and accompanied by footage shot for the occasion, in a new project that erases the previous films. The richly illustrated exhibition catalogue will document the work, but will also include a series of theoretical contributions on the relationship between art and the archive, based on the case of the Temenos. In addition, two other works will be published: the correspondence between Gregory J. Markopoulos and Stan Brakhage, with a critical apparatus, which provides a close-up view of the processes of creation and self-organisation of American experimental cinema in the 1960s and 1970s; and a monograph on the cinema of Gregory J. Markopoulos, which to date remains little documented.

Main applicant

François Bovier

Research team

Serge Margel, senior researcher

Lecturers and researchers:

Philippe Artières, Erika Balsom, Robert Beavers, Christa Blümlinger, Enrico Camporesi, Markus Klammer, Rebekah Ruttkof, P. Adams Sitney, Mark Webber


Mathilde Coué (archivist and historian), Balthazar Lovay (curator)


BA and MA students in visual arts and cinema 


December 2022 – November 2024


FriArt Kunsthalle Fribourg

Supported by

Réserve stratégique de la HES-SO (RCDAV)
Kunsthalle FriArt Fribourg