Documentation

From The Files of the Pyramid Cocktail Lounge is a series of video clips taken at the Pyramid Club, a seminal location for the East Village drag scene in the midst of the club's most influential years. While rummaging through a file cabinet full of event fliers from the Pyramid Club, an office worker in drag guides the viewer through video documentation of past performances at the club.

Gravity Hill Newsreels: Occupy Wall Street comprises Jem Cohen’s twelve-part series as a continuous and complete compilation. Cohen, who witnessed the New York occupation from day one, borrowed a digital camera and started gathering footage in subsequent weeks. Initially acting upon an instinctive impulse to document and be guided by the events of the movement through quiet participation, Cohen’s documentation took a more public and expansive form through an agreement with the IFC Center, a local movie theater.

In February 1970, the Freex visit the garage of the Hells Angels to informally discuss American politics and motorcycle maintenance. In this video, David Cort leads an extensive interview with the group’s president, Sandy Alexander.

In this tape, shot in August 1970, a number of Hells Angels are interviewed on the street in New York City. They talk about their bikes and their preparations for a “run”, and their reactions to the way they are portrayed by the mainstream media.

Her + Him, 2012

In 1998, Zaatari interviewed Egyptian photographer Van Leo in Cairo. In 2001 he made the video Her + Him Van Leo and based it on the story of a woman who once entered Studio Van Leo and asked the artist to take pictures of her naked. At the time, Zaatari had access to a few of the woman's twelve pictures. In 2010 Zaatari came across the entire series showing "Nadia" undressing in twelve poses and expanded the original work into this HD remastered version.

Welcome to The History of the Future: A Franklin Furnace View of Performance Art.  This disc set is based upon a live event that took place at the Abrons Art Center in New York City on April 27, 2007.  Within this box set, you'll find performances from that event as well as historical videos that capture the thrills and chills of performance art during the last 30 years.

"Bricks are the resonating fundamentals of society. Bricks are layers of clay that sound like records, just simply too thick. Like records they appear in series, but every brick is slightly different – not just another brick in the wall. Bricks create spaces, organize social relations and store knowledge on social structures. They resonate in a way that tells us if they are good enough or not. Bricks form the fundamental sound of our societies, but we haven't learned to listen to them.

Shot in December 1969, this video documents a live performance by the Incredible String Band at the Fillmore East, NYC. Beginning with footage of people waiting in line at the doors before the show begins, the video goes on to record the performance itself. Early on, the band experiences some audio problems, before settling down to play. We witness the band talking, tuning their instruments and playing.

In 1971 the curator Allon Schoerner was commissioned by Hadassah, a Jewish women’s organization, to create an exhibition about Jerusalem for the Jewish Museum in New York City.  As part of this endeavor, three artists were sent overseas to document the city: David Cort of the Videofreex, young media artist Shalom Gorewitz, and photographer and light show artist Bob Quinn.

This five-DVD set compiles all the raw footage shot on this journey. 

David Cort of the Videofreex travels to Jerusalem. This tape contains raw footage of him as he is taken on a tour through a poor neighborhood by a group of young men. There is talk of the Israeli Black Panther Party, and of drug dealers and poverty. Somebody says the tape is being made for the Jewish Museum in NYC. The Israeli guide talks about the movement, and says the bourgeois and the poor can meet through parties and drugs. They visit a woman and her children who are living in poverty, and interview her about the needs of her family.

During Videofreex member David Cort's travels to Jerusalem, a scene was shot in a hospital where a female patient is having electrodes attached to her body. The cameraman gets on the cot and has the electrodes attached to him as they talk about making a brain feedback machine for use at home. The next scene records the cameraman walking the streets of Jerusalem. People passing by interact with the camera.

In this short video, the Videofreex sit in on, and record part of, a lecture given by Jesse Ritter to undergraduate students at Princeton University in 1969. In the snippet of the lecture recorded, Ritter discusses Richard “Lord” Buckley, a 20th century American stage performer, recording artist, monologist, and hip poet/comic, whose contributions in the 1940s and 50s anticipated the aesthetic sensibilities of the Beat Generation.

Eerily drifting through soft fades, superimposed images, close-ups, and visual feedback, this tape follows less a narrative structure and more a stringing together of seemingly random activities, set against two very different soundtracks. The video opens with David Cort reclining on the ground as psychedelic rock plays in the background. Two shots alternate between frontal and profile as he lazily plays with his beard and face – the streams of footage melding together with the use of live editing.

“Trolling for news we call it,” says Bart Friedman a minute into this video, as he pushes down a road the Lanesville TV News Buggy – a baby carriage filled with video equipment, spilling over with wires. The buggy allows for easy transportation of equipment as the Videofreex make their way throughout Lanesville, interviewing residents on their daily activity. Although fairly ordinary – a visit to the lake, a small bit about a neighbor’s new electric golf cart, and an introduction to a newborn baby – the footage has an air of genuineness and all of the interactions are amicable.

"Between March 1972 and February 1977, the Videofreex aired 258 television broadcasts from a home-built studio and jerry-rigged transmitter in an old boarding house they rented in the tiny Catskill Mountain hamlet of Lanesville. It was a revolutionary act in defiance of FCC regulations — the first unlicensed TV station in America."

Among the handful of video recordings of Lanesville TV that exist today, this tape is particularly special for its documentation of one of its very first programs to run on the air. The tape captures the energy and excitement of the Videofreex as they prepare to go live, and Parry Teasdale taking calls during the show to drum up interest and also monitor sound quality.

In this March 9th, 1974 episode of Lanesville TV, the Videofreex screen their recently shot ringside footage from a boxing match that took place over the weekend in Marion Square Gardens of nearby Tannersville, NY. The event, which pitted (volunteer wrestler-boxers) Frank “the Fist” Farkle of Haines Falls against Rocky Van Fight of Hunter in a match, was a fundraiser for the Rescue Squad of Tannersville.

In Laser Games with Shirley Clarke, the Videofreex visit the apartment of independent filmmaker Shirley Clarke. Someone brings out a laser pointer, which they then use from the top of their building to shine on the sidewalks below in an attempt to distract the passersby. After returning indoors, they experiment with optical distortion by shooting the laser directly into the camera lens while listening to psychedelic raga music.

In this video, the Videofreex host a party during which the main source of entertainment is a video-television feedback loop. In one room, a video camera linked up to a television set allows party guests to see themselves, as if in a mirror, while guests in the other room can also watch the recording, and may speak to them through a microphone. Although the voices of the off-screen guests can be heard on the tape, they are always imageless.

Timely concerns about the future of video, artists’ complicity in the money making system of the ‘establishment,’ and the effect of the camera’s presence on personal encounters, is discussed and debated in this late night video produced by David Cort, Chuck Kennedy, and Skip Blumberg.

"We are happy. (Silence.) What do we do now, now that we are happy?"

-- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

In October 1969, the Videofreex visited the home of wealthy political and social activist, Lucy Montgomery, as she was hosting the Black Panther Party of Chicago during one of their most fraught times — the period just after Chairman Bobby Seale was wrongfully imprisoned for inciting riots at the Democratic National Convention a year earlier. This particular video documents a discussion with Lucy Montgomery herself interviewed by David Cort, one of the Videofreex.

Despite assurances from local municipalities, a fact of life is that Manholes blow sky high more frequently than most people realize. Manhole 452 directs the viewer’s attention to the shapes, sizes and patterns of manhole covers on Geary Street in San Francisco, and then plunges deep below into the manholes themselves to explore the hidden threat that lies below.

Despite assurances from local municipalities, a fact of life is that Manholes blow sky high more frequently than most people realize. Manhole 452 directs the viewer’s attention to the shapes, sizes and patterns of manhole covers on Geary Street in San Francisco, and then plunges deep below into the manholes themselves to explore the hidden threat that lies below.

Shot over one day, this program records the events and protests in Washington DC on May Day, 1971. This was the day when one of the most disruptive actions of the Vietnam War era occurred in Washington, DC, when thousands of anti-war activists tried to shut down the Federal government in protest at the War.

A feel for the mood in the city is gained during the first half of the video with shots of the city from a moving car in traffic. Protestors, city residents, and police are captured on tape, along with exciting and moving shots of the day's actions and arrests.