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

LOCAL CONTROL

Karl Hess in the World of Ideas

Tuesday, November 6 at 8 PM (doors 7:30), $7-10

Directed by Daniel Tucker
Edited by Valerie Keller
Music by Theo Katsaounis, Tim Kinsella and Todd Mattei
60 minutes, video, 2018

Local Control is an experimental documentary about the political spectrum.

It has been said repeatedly that “All Politics Are Local” but what does the impulse towards controlling your own life at the local level mean to people as diverse as Jeffersonian Yeoman, Climate Change activists, Fair food advocates, anarcho-capitalists and Republican speechwriters? Is local on the scale of the body, the neighborhood, or the nation?

Local Control uses the story of writer Karl Hess to propose a field of interaction between Ayn Rand, Emma Goldman, Rush Limbaugh, Abby Hoffman, Studs Terkel, Benito Mussolini, Ken Kesey, Robert Heinlein, Bob Dylan and The Black Panther Party. A former corporate consultant and speechwriter for Barry Goldwater, Karl Hess later joined the ranks of Students for a Democratic Society. He wrote speeches for New Left groups of the 1960s before beginning to advocate for urban agriculture and community technology, and later becoming a founding figure amongst Libertarians and survivalists. Throughout it all he promoted ideas of self-sufficiency and localism.

Traveling from Washington DC to Los Angeles and across over 50 years, this video essay introduces Hess’ family and interviews with political authors Cindy Milstein, Charles Murray, Raj Patel and Rick Perlstein, and is also interspersed with clips from mainstream news outlets, online personalities and Hess devotees.

In a time where our map of ideas has been turned on its head, this mediation on individualism and collectivism considers conventional categories of Right and Left while introducing surprising new ones to help us to consider where we are now.

Daniel Tucker works as an artist, writer and curator developing documentaries, publications, exhibitions and events inspired by his interest in social movements and the people and places from which they emerge. In 2015 Tucker completed his first feature-length video essay Future Perfect: Time Capsules in Reagan Country and has recently completed a followup video Local Control: Karl Hess in the World of Ideas (2018). His short video Retooling Dissent (2002) was screened widely and his writings and projects have been distributed, published and exhibited widely. He earned his MFA from University of Illinois at Chicago and BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently an Assistant Professor and founding Graduate Program Director in Socially-Engaged Art at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia.  miscprojects.com

programmed by Jesse Malmed



Filed under: anarchy, artist in attendance, documentary, experimental, social justice, video

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