Art History

1999
Some Chance Operations

Shot in Naples, Vienna, and New York, Some Chance Operations explores the notion of an archival form, in this instance film, as an unstable memory receptacle that can vanish. History and how it is made is meditated upon as one of many chance operations. The filmmaker Elvira Notari, who had a film production company in Naples from 1906 to 1930, plays a significant role as an impetus for Some Chance Operations. Despite the fact that she was a prolific filmmaker, producing over sixty feature films, only three remain intact.

2015
Spectacle: A Portrait of Stuart Sherman, Robin Deacon

“We lose good artists to the past all the time because their work was ephemeral, or difficult, or fashion wasn’t on their side. The performance artist Stuart Sherman, who died of AIDS in 2001, was a candidate for disappearance on all three counts.” 

— New York Times, 2009

1990
Sphinxes Without Secrets

Sphinxes Without Secrets is an energetic and transgressive acount of outstanding female performance artists, and an invaluable document of feminist avant-garde work of the 70s and 80s. No Mona Lisa smiles here, as performance artists spill their guts about what outrages and delights them. Performers, curators, and critics unravel the mysteries of a new art form and ponder the world women confront today. Since its inception, performance art has provided a forum for artists who create work that challenges the dominant aesthetic and cultural status quo.

1997
Still Life

According to Harun Farocki, today's photographers working in advertising are, in a way, continuing the tradition of 17th century Flemish painters in that they depict objects from everyday life - the "still life". The filmmaker illustrates this intriguing hypothesis with three documentary sequences which show the photographers at work creating a contemporary "still life": a cheese-board, beer glasses and an expensive watch. 

2018
Filipa César and Louis Henderson; Sunstone

Sunstone tracks Fresnel lenses from their site of production to their exhibition in a museum of lighthouses and navigational devices. It also examines the diverse social contexts in which optics are implicated, contrasting the system of triangular trade that followed the first European arrivals in the ‘New World’ with the political potential seen in Op art in post-revolutionary Cuba.

2014

The Surface Tension Trilogy is comprised of three experimental videos tracking the rise and fall of the Weimar Era in Berlin through the perspectives of Frida Kahlo & Anita Berber, Hannah Hoch, and Leni Riefenstahl & Eva Braun, each of them women who lived and worked in the city at this time.

1995
Surveying the First Decade: Video Art and Alternative Media in the U.S.  1968-19

Since its original release in 1995, this comprehensive two-volume, eight-program package on the history of experimental and independent video curated by Christine Hill was available only on VHS tape. The DVD launch brings this essential tool for the understanding of the development of media arts to a whole new generation of teachers, libraries, students and researchers.

2010
Susan Mogul, Woman's Building

“Nobody likes you if they think you’re rude- you better act the way you should.” But we didn’t.

Telling it the way it was lived, Susan Mogul’s short film captures the energy, passion and radical spirit of the Los Angeles Woman’s Building (1973-1991), a groundbreaking center for women’s culture.

2016
Sympathetic Vibrations: The Videoworks of Paul Kos

Video Data Bank is proud to present the poetic work of West Coast conceptual artist Paul Kos. This two-disc box set features 25 video works that reveal how Kos mines humble materials for their physical properties and metaphorical possibilities. Included is a 50-page monograph containing specially commissioned essays that expand upon Kos’ five-decade long practice by art scholar Constance Lewallen and SFMOMA’s Curator of Media Arts Rudolf Frieling. 

2015
Marcia Tucker 1974: An Interview

In April 1974, Video Data Bank co-founders Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield conducted their first interview, an in-depth conversation with art historian and curator Marcia Tucker. During the remainder of that year, Blumenthal and Horsfield went on to interview four more notable art world women: Joan Mitchell, Lucy Lippard, Agnes Martin and Ree Morton.

1970
Videofreex, Tosun Bayrak's Love America or Live

The Videofreex document a street intervention by Turkish artist Tosun Bayrak (b.1926). The performance was to become a notorious example of the element of "shock" in contemporary art. Within the work:

2009
tryphon: three sounds, the art of thomas h. kapsalis

tryphon: three sounds is a candid portrait of the artist Thomas H. Kapsalis (b.

2001
Two Dogs and a Ball

One of several videos the artist made with her brother while still in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Two Dogs and a Ball is a cover of William Wegman’s piece of the same title from the late 60’s. During the critique for this piece the artist, Jeff Wall, remarked that at this point anything can be art. This video revels in a degree of quality loss, and in this case it is brought it closer to the chopped and fuzzy original.

2019
Vever (for Barbara), Deborah Stratman

A cross-generational binding of three filmmakers seeking alternative possibilities to the power structures they are inherently part of. Each woman extends her reach to a subject she is outside of. Vever grew out of the abandoned film projects of Maya Deren and Barbara Hammer. Shot at the furthest point of a motorcycle trip Hammer took to Guatemala in 1975, and laced through with Deren’s reflections of failure, encounter and initiation in 1950s Haiti.

A vever is a symbolic drawing used in Haitian Voodoo to invoke Loa, or god.

2010
Louis Henderson, A Walk With Nigel

A Walk with Nigel is a video essay that constructs a dialogue between two artists from two different times, between movement and stillness, between speech and silence. An archaeological study of a community, reawakening the archive in the present. A materialist study of streets and social relations.