Owen Land, 1944-2011


Owen Land, an experimental American filmmaker associated with Fluxus, was found dead in his apartment in Los Angeles on June 8, 2011. In a press release, Office Baroque, the Antwerp gallery that represented Land throughout the latter half of his career, called Land’s work “critically smart, densely lucid speculations on popular and consumer culture, sexuality, language, history, art and religion that have outgrown the borders of known art historical genres or styles.”

Land was born in New Haven, Connecticut, as George Landow. In the 1970s, he began going by Owen Land, an anagram of his given name. In the beginning of his career he worked as an assistant to the Greek-American Filmmaker Gregory Markopoulos. Land would go on to teach film production at Northwestern University, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the Art Institute of Chicago, where he founded the Experimental Theatre Workshop in the performance department.

Following the release of his satirical film, On the Marriage Broker Joke as Cited by Sigmund Freud in Wit and Its Relation the Unconscious or Can the Avant-Garde Artist Be Whole? (1977)—which features two actors in panda suits discussing corporate strategy—Land took a break from teaching. Without access to free university resources like actors and equipment, Land experimented with other art forms. He received an MFA in painting from the New York Academy of Art in 1993, and wrote a series of screenplays following a debilitating stroke in 2001.

In 2005, Land was honored with a retrospective at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. In 2009, both the Kunstwerke Berlin and Kunsthalle Bern mounted solo exhibitions of Land’s work. He received the Douglas Edwards Experimental/Independent Film/Video Award from the Los Angeles Critics Association in 1999. Land lived in Los Angeles until his death.