1084 N MILWAUKEE, CHICAGO

Mary Curtis Ratcliff of Videofreex

Celebrating Videofreex’ 50th anniversary

Wednesday, July 31, 7 PM, $7-10 suggested donation – cash only

Mary Curtis Ratcliff in person!

The Nightingale is thrilled to welcome Mary Curtis Ratcliff, a founding member of the collective Videofreex, to Chicago to screen three videos made from 1969-1970, on the occasion of the group’s 50th anniversary. Mary Curtis Ratcliff—visual artist, videomaker, and political activist—participated in the creation of these tapes both on an off camera as videographer, interviewer, and interviewee. Chicago Travelogue: The Weatherman (1969), Fred Hampton: Black Panthers in Chicago (1969), and Curtis’s Abortion (1970) provide a window into the political movements and ideologies that are as important today as they were fifty years ago.

The Videofreex began in 1969 as part of the Manhattan video scene and eventually moved to upstate New York to operate a community video center and the first pirate television station in the U.S. on Maple Tree Farm in Lanesville, NY throughout the 1970s. Since 2001, the Videofreex archive has been held at the Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Shortly after founding the collective, Mary Curtis Ratcliff, Parry Teasdale, and David Cort were hired by CBS to produce video footage of the emerging youth culture in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York for a television pilot called Subject to Change. Though the program never made it to the air, the interviews that they recorded helped inspire the wave of political video documentaries now known as “Guerrilla Television.”

In an interview with the Videofreex, media artist Ralph Hocking once said that “99.99% of videotapes produced are boring as hell to 99.99% of the people who watch them.” What makes the Freex unique is that somehow so many of their tapes fit within the .01% that speak to more than just “video people.” They belong to that slim percentile of video that is essential: they capture the reality of the past and confront us with the urgency of our present.

Program Notes:

Chicago Travelogue: The Weathermen, 1969, 22:30

David Cort and Mary Curtis Radcliff interview participants after the “Days of Rage” protest organized by the Chicago-based Weathermen in October of 1969. The Videofreex question the destructive methods of the new group but allow the students to speak about the personal importance of their radical experiences.

Fred Hampton: Black Panthers in Chicago, 1969, 24:00

Mary Curtis taped Parry Teasdale and David Cort’s interview with the twenty-one year-old deputy chairman of the Black Panther Party of Illinois just months before he was murdered by the Chicago Police. Members of the Videofreex reportedly broke into CBS offices to rescue the master copy of the interview after their pilot was canceled, and screenings of the video were instrumental in organizing the campaign for a civil case against the CPD.

Curtis’s Abortion, 1970, 22:59

Fellow Videofreex Nancy Cain and Carol Vontobel speak with Mary Curtis about her experience with recently legalized abortion in New York. The participants’ thoughtful conversation turns the informational tape into an unexpectedly warm document of friendship and the women’s rights movement.

All videos will be screened digitally, and were preserved and digitized by the Video Data Bank. Programmed by Zach Vanes and Emily Eddy.



Filed under: anniversary, archival, artist in attendance, autobiography, collaboration, documentary, documentation, feminism, social justice, urban, video

THE NATIVE AND THE REFUGEE

Multi-media Documentary Project
by Matt Peterson & Malek Rasamny
Artists in attendance!

Tuesday, October 16 at 7pm, $7-10

The Native and the Refugee is a multimedia documentary project by Matt Peterson and Malek Rasamny that profiles the Palestinian and Native American experience by examining the infrastructure, politics, and geography of American Indian reservations alongside Palestinian refugee camps. In connecting these two spaces, the goals of the project are to understand the centrality of the question of land and territory for any conception of autonomy; to look at the camp as an “extra-national” space with all the contradictions entailed; and to meet with those getting organized politically in these places to understand their communal concerns.

Program Details:
The History of the Camp (2015, 10 minutes)
Indian Winter (2017, 26 minutes)
Aida (2018)
Black Mesa (2018, 10 minutes)

The Native and the Refugee has been presented in Canada, Ecuador, England, France, Guatemala, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Portugal, Quebec, and Syria, including within refugee camps and reservations, and at other venues including cinemas, community centers, galleries, and universities.


Matt Peterson
co-directed the documentary features Scenes from a Revolt Sustained (2014), on the Tunisian insurrection, and Spaces of Exception (2018). He was a member of the collectives Red Channels and the 16 Beaver Group, and is currently part of a commune in New York called Woodbine. His films and videos have screened at Anthology Film Archives, e-flux, Eyebeam, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Indiana University, International House Philadelphia, Millennium Film Workshop, and MoMA PS1. He has spoken and organized events at Artists Television Access, BAMcinematek, Centre Pompidou, DCTV, dOCUMENTA 13, Goethe-Institut, Interference Archive, Light Industry, Maysles Cinema, the New School, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, SculptureCenter, and UnionDocs.

Malek Rasamny
is a researcher and filmmaker based in both New York and Beirut whose writings have been published in The Daily Star and Fuse. He’s worked at the Maysles Documentary Center, and was a founding member of the LERFE space in Harlem, the Ground Floor Collective, and Red Channels. He is a regular speaker at the Afikra international monthly series on Arab history and culture, and has presented on his travels to Kurdish Iraq and Syria at Interference Archive, Ta Marbouta in Beirut, and La Passe in Montreal. He has organized a series of meetings and fora in support of the Syrian revolution at Columbia University. He is currently working on a research project surrounding Druze sovereignty in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, and has presented at the conferences of the American Druze Society.
Programmed by Christy LeMaster & Matt Peterson


Filed under: artist in attendance, collaboration, documentary, ethnography, experimental, international, social justice, travel, video

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