Tosun's Dinner and Wake

1971 | 00:32:14 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | 1/2" open reel video

Collection: Videofreex Archive

Tags: Art Collective, City, Death and Dying, Performance

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In this tape the Videofreex document an impromptu experimental art gathering in 1971, hosted by New York artist, Tosun Bayrak. Before entering the gathering, the Freex record their encounters with a police officer, passersby, and a member of Vegetarians for Ecological Action (an animals’ rights activist group) protesting the misuse of animals in performance art. On the door leading up to the space where the gathering will take place, Bayrak publicizes the evening as a “wake for the late Captain Hasan Tursun Efendi” and a “Ritualistic Celebration Commemorating a War Hero” in keeping with his recent experimental performance art practice. Later, when inside this “ritualistic celebration,” the Freex document the haziness of the crowded room, aquariums filled with crustaceous oddities, hypnotic chanting, dance, food offerings, and noisy musical interludes.

In addition to providing the rare opportunity to enter an intimate space of a performance, decades after its enactment, this tape is rich in its historical preservation of the intersection of politics, art, law enforcement, and mysticism, a nexus that developed throughout the 1970s as body art and radical practice emerged. The confluence of ambiguous actions, snippets of overheard comments from attendees, and the ambient mood of the evening provide an excellent portrait of the type of environment—shaped by physical, sociological, and emotional dynamics—in which experimental performance art and its audiences came to be during the ‘70s.

— Faye Gleisser