The Whole World is (Still) Watching


Collection: Curated Compilations

Tags: Activism, African-American, AIDS/HIV, Camp, Culture Jamming, Death and Dying, Feminism, LGBTQ, Love, Media Analysis, Performance, Politics, PSA, Sexuality, Social Justice, Video History

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The Whole World is (Still) Watching

VDB TV: Decades
1990s: The Whole World is (Still) Watching

An original program for VDB TV: Decades curated by Solveig Nelson. This program focuses on a form of double vision — seeing the 1960s through the lens of the 1990s — in American video art in the 1990s. It argues that the stakes of the 1960s in this later period corresponds to a sense of the unfinished political promise of nonviolent direct action, and in turn, the unfinished art historical promise of early video. The videos in this program by Tom Kalin, Gran Fury, Dara Birnbaum, Leah Gilliam, Tom Rubnitz (in collaboration with David Wojnarowicz), Suzie Silver (in collaboration with Hester Reeve) and Sadie Benning all move beyond mere ‘returns to history.’ While sometimes wary about the limitations of Sixties era social movements and urban policies, each approach the 1960s as a site of innovation in media and as a site of innovation in politics.

This program is also avaliable on VDB TV: Decades, a unique five-disc compilation that casts a distinctive eye over the development of video as an art form from the early 1970s to the present. This five-disc compilation was released during 2017 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Video Data Bank. Each program was curated by an inspiring artist, scholar or media arts specialist who has focused on a specific decade, diving into the archive of the VDB to create personal, distinctive, and relevant programs, accompanied by original essays and texts. VDB TV: Decades is the perfect accompaniment to VDB’s iconic anthology Surveying the First Decade: Video Art and Alternative Media in the U.S. 1968-80, providing another essential tool for understanding the development of video and media art over the past five decades.

Included Titles

They are lost to vision altogether
Made in 1989, They are lost to vision altogether is an erotic counterstrike to the Helms Amendment, the U.S. government’s refusal to fund AIDS prevention information explicitly for gay men, lesbians, and IV drug users. Kalin paints a portrait of the...


Collection: Single Titles

Tags: aids/hiv, lgbtq, politics

Tom Kalin + 1 other
1990 | 03:50
Kissing Doesn't Kill
Part of a campaign initiated in 1989, this video is a component of Gran Fury’s plan to raise consciousness and advance medical and federal reform on AIDS policy. These ads ran on TV as a counterpart to controversial bus posters, which generated some...


Collection: Single Titles

Tags: aids/hiv, lgbtq

Canon: Taking to the Streets
Starting with student-recorded VHS footage of two successive Take Back the Night marches at Princeton University, Birnbaum develops a saga of political awareness through personalized experiences. This localized student activity then progresses to,...


Collection: Single Titles

Tags: activism, feminism, politics

Tom Rubnitz, Listen to This
Listen To This is a fragment of collective memory that finds critical relevance in contemporary Queer discourse.  Tom Rubnitz weaves narration, image, and a form of temporality, dislocated from ‘real time’, into a video where artist and AIDS...


Collection: Single Titles

Tags: activism, aids/hiv, chicago art, death and dying, lgbtq, media analysis

A Spy (Hester Reeve Does The Doors)
A Spy is a gender-bending and thought-provoking mixture of pure visual pleasure with disturbing undercurrents. As Reeve lip-syncs to a Doors song (“I am a spy in the house of love. I know the dream that you’re dreaming of, I know your deepest...


Collection: Single Titles

Tags: feminism, lgbtq, music

Sapphire and the Slave Girl
Loosely based on the 1950s British detective film Sapphire, in which two Scotland Yard detectives investigate the murder of a young woman who is passing for white, Sapphire and the Slave Girl examines the determinants of Sapphire's murder...


Collection: Single Titles

Tags: crime or violence, race

I borrowed this absurd phrase from a sign posted on the conductor’s booth in the Washington, D.C. subway. The language of civil service here borders on unintentional parody, with its blankly polite tone and bureaucratic single-mindedness. I.G.G.B.S....


Collection: Single Titles

Tags: language

Sadie Benning
1995 | 05:50
German Song
Shot in black and white Super 8, this lyrical short follows a wandering, disengaged youth through grey afternoons. German Song features the hard-edged music of Come, an alternative band from Boston.


Collection: Single Titles

Tags: experimental film, feminism, lgbtq, music, sexuality, youth/childhood

Related Titles

VDB TV: Decades