On View: June 30
This Video Viewing Room explores the overlapping histories of Millennium Film Workshop and The Kitchen's Open Screenings programs, and features archival and contemporary videos related to this series: John Buchanan, Wallpaper 7 (1970); Jud Yalkut, Astrolabe of God (1972); Swati Jain, Kitchen Evolution (2022); Tempest Karliner-Li, ZEROZEROZEROZERO (2022); and Cherry Nin, Life Force (2023).
Millennium Film Workshop: Open Screenings is organized by Alison Burstein, Curator, The Kitchen and Joe Wakeman, Executive Director, Millennium Film Workshop.
This presentation is accompanied by a new text written by Alison Burstein and Joe Wakeman.
Since its founding in 1966, the Millennium Film Workshop has maintained a mission to make the tools and practice of moving-image art accessible for all. These efforts historically have included educational workshops; low-or-no-cost equipment rentals; and, importantly, exhibition opportunities for burgeoning, radical, and unsung talents. With Open Sreenings, Millennium and The Kitchen have collaborated on a presentation of archival and contemporary materials that explores the intersecting histories of these two institutions’ efforts to support experimental video art and film practice. Focusing on a program format that was central to both The Kitchen and Millennium's founding ethos—the “Open Screening” model that invites artists to screen their work without any barriers to submission—this Video Viewing Room looks at the institutions' shared investments in open access and resource sharing as modes of promoting advancements in artistic practice.
For Millennium, the Open Screening series began as an opportunity to showcase work produced by the artists who participated in the organization’s equipment access program, which was initiated by founder Ken Jacobs along with Flo Jacobs and others at St. Mark’s Church in 1966. These screenings became a weekly staple of Millennium’s early programming and attracted a devoted community of artists working outside of commercial, institutional, or industrial structures, crafting their personal visions via 8mm, Super8mm, and 16mm. One of these artists was John Buchanan, who attended and premiered work at Millennium’s Open Screenings for decades, attending his first screenings in 1970. Among the films he showed in those early days was the 16mm piece, Wallpaper 7 (1970), newly scanned in 2K by Negativeland and shown here for the first time in years.
John Buchanan, Wallpaper 7, 1970
Buchanan has observed that in the 1970s, moving-image artists working in film embraced a kind of aesthetic tribalism in opposition to artists working in the nascent medium of video (and vice versa), (1) but a look into archival materials of the time suggests that this schismatic film vs. video dogma may not have been as stringent as it seemed when it came to where and how artists presented the work. While Millennium’s scene in the East Village at that time tended to favor celluloid, just a few blocks away at The Kitchen at the Mercer Arts Center, much of the early programming centered on video. However, The Kitchen’s founding commitment to dismantling barriers to production and exhibition reveals that the organization’s ethos overlapped in significant ways with Millennium’s efforts. In fact, The Kitchen established the Open Screening program at the time of its opening as a direct analog to Millennium’s own program. As The Kitchen’s founders Woody and Steina Vasulka recall, they staged an opening party at which they invited attendees to offer suggestions for what kinds of programming The Kitchen should support. One of the artists, Shirley Clarke, “had been talking to a fellow artist about the lack of a place to show [tapes]. And she had this fantastic concept that it should be totally open and unprogrammed, that people would just come unannounced to show tapes.” According to Woody, Clarke got this idea “from the movies because that is what Millennium was doing.” (2)
Beginning in 1971, the Open Screening series was a centerpiece of The Kitchen’s weekly programming, serving the key role of contributing to “the continued development of half-inch video as an alternate medium by providing the only existing guaranteed outlet for any and every tape made” to be presented publicly. (3) The importance of this series is underscored by its presence in The Kitchen’s first annual Video Festival, which included an entire week blocked off for Open Screenings of Videotapes. In addition to The Kitchen’s embrace of this program model pioneered by Millennium, the overlap between the organizations is apparent in the appearance of artists presenting in the festival who were showing their work at Millennium around the same time—including Jud Yalkut, an artist known equally for his 16mm work as well as his early video collaborations with Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman. While Yalkut presented work in The Kitchen’s 1972 Video Art Festival, he also could be found instructing workshops and presenting in Millennium’s Personal Cinema Series during that same period. Here, the inclusion of a work by Yalkut originally presented as part of the Video Art Festival at The Kitchen on June 30, 1972 alludes to his role in both communities. This work, Astrolabe of God (1972), which was recently unearthed and digitized by Electronic Arts Intermix, offers an idea of the nature of Yalkut’s work from that time.
Jud Yalkut, Astrolabe of God, 1972
Calling attention to the Open Screening model as a direct point of exchange between the two organizations, this Video Viewing Room proposes that Millennium and The Kitchen’s shared emphasis on open access and resource sharing served as a key bridge between the spaces, creating inroads for artists working across the mediums of film and video to present their work in contexts that shared a guiding ethos. Working in parallel over the past five decades, Millennium and The Kitchen’s commitment to breaking down barriers between artists, institutions, and publics has played a part in establishing both organizations as sites that have nurtured flourishing avant-garde moving-image practices. Millennium Film Workshop’s Open Screening practice has been continuously maintained since the early days of presentations at St. Mark’s Church, even in the face of setbacks, including the closing of their later E 4 Street home in 2013 and the death of longtime Executive Director Howard Guttenplan in 2015. The open screenings continued when Millennium’s operations briefly moved to Brooklyn Fireproof, and later operated under the banner of “HIJACK Open Screenings” in rented spaces from 2017–2019, organized by then Executive Director Joey Huertas. During the pandemic, the screenings moved to a monthly online livestream on millenniumfilm.org, which had the welcome effect of expanding the open screening community internationally. In June 2022, Millennium opened a new space at 167 Wilson Avenue in Brooklyn, and now presents Open Screenings on the last Friday of each month (for more information visit millenniumfilm.org/, and to submit videos to present, email email@example.com).
For The Kitchen’s part, the Open Video Screening model continued through 1974: the following year, the organization opened the Video Viewing Room in its loft at 59 Wooster Street as a physical space dedicated to the continuous presentation of video works. The Video Viewing Room began as a facility in which members of the public could use equipment to watch their own tapes or tapes from The Kitchen’s library, and it later evolved into a site for curated programs of video works. The Kitchen’s ongoing embrace for open access to equipment and screenings for artists and audiences has taken shape in alternative ways over the decades, including through the relaunch of the Video Viewing Room program as a digital platform in spring 2020.
In celebration of the continued history and spirit of “open screenings” across their organizations, The Kitchen and Millennium together have selected works for this presentation by Swati Jain, Tempest Karliner-Li, and Cherry Nin that have been submitted to one or both organizations in the past year through open submission avenues.
Swati Jain, Kitchen Evolution, 2022
In Kitchen Evolution, cyclical narratives of women being subjected to patriarchy are the forms in which cultural restrictions are ornamented into our bio-politicized homes. The film traces the evolution of the kitchen from an enclosed, cornered space in the house to a collaborative food pipeline system connecting the city. This system diminishes the physical labor of food production to make the home genderless.
— Swati Jain
Tempest Karliner-Li, ZEROZEROZEROZERO, 2022
ZEROZEROZEROZERO is a film originally made for a niche transfemme audience on YouTube. I had originally built an audience from posting transition updates and hormone tutorials. My niche mostly covered a couple hundred young, pre-transition transfeminine/nonbinary people. ZEROZEROZEROZERO was intended to scare my subscribers away as I got less and less interested in sharing my life publicly online. I hoped its perversity in content and medium would push back against a build up of a normative audience and allow me to access deeper and more psychologically dense ideas. Once completed, I submitted the film to a couple of film screening events with majority cis-audiences. I realized that although much of the film was illegible to these audiences (philosophically, physically, and spiritually), there were fourth wall–breaking moments that felt like an apt “fuck you.” I think, too, its lack of a legible politic produced a nervous reaction from the cisgender people who couldn’t quite make heads or tails of what they were supposed to be feeling. This kind of impossibility of understanding and meaning to cis-audiences renders the film unintentionally coded. Its psychic contours and details are only visible to the right minds and bodies.
— Tempest Karliner-Li
Cherry Nin, Life Force, 2023
In Life Force, I utilize non-traditional, alchemical methods of filmmaking to weave together a hyper-real, bio-political fiction based on my actual surroundings, relationships, and experiences. Live action scenes are combined with stop-motion, voice over, and glitched edits, resulting in an apocalyptic articulation of sexuality and nature as it exists in a post-industrial U.S. city landscape—i.e. the idea of “life force” as intrinsically queer, in decay, dead, and situated within multiple trajectories of power and matter. Though the repercussion of these trajectories is separation, a relentless reaching toward each other and toward life persists.
— Cherry Nin
John Buchanan was born after WWII (1946) and raised outside of Philadelphia, Gladwyne, and Charlestown. Both suburbia and a farm in Chester County were his early environments. After moving to NYC in 1969, he began to make films in earnest. He shot daily. Won some awards. Made photographic surveys of places he wanted to go. Making a film meant to him he could take wherever he was with him. Currently he is making diaristic films of places he travels daily and yearly photographic images which are unusual but captivating. He still shoots every day.
Swati Jain is a transdisciplinary architect, artist, and researcher focusing on sociocultural, ecological, and multisensory approaches to foster collective empathy and equitable design solutions for the future. Their work revolves around themes of gender, identity, and phenomenological embodiment.
Jain holds a Master of Science in Advanced Architecture Design from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Mumbai. They have also pursued post-graduate degrees in Indian aesthetics; critical theory, aesthetics, and practice from Jnanapravaha Mumbai. They have over seven years of diverse experience in exhibition design, institutional, historic preservation, residential, and urban design projects in both New York City and Mumbai.
Tempest Karliner-Li is a Chinese-American Transfemme Filmmaker and Animator based in Queens, NY. Her body of work attempts to create radical trans spiritual and sensorial experiences, storytelling, and aesthetics. Her films draw upon and fuse street-histories, hooker nightmares, spirit haunts, and techno horror daydreams. Her film ZEROZEROZEROZERO (2022) is the third in a trilogy of 3D animated films made for a niche transfemme YouTube audience. Karliner-Li is currently in the process of producing her first feature film and directorial debut.
Cherry Nin is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in video with a practice that includes writing, performance, drawing, and sound. Queer ecology and post-industrial alchemy are central to their hybrid media practice. Nin is a recipient of the Leeway Foundation's Art & Change Grant (2020) and the Philadelphia Independent Media Fund (2021). Past residencies include KAJE and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Nin is an MFA candidate at Bard College.
Jud Yalkut (1938–2013) was a pioneering intermedia artist and filmmaker. His remarkable body of moving image work, which spanned fifty years, ranged from early performance renderings and poetic filmic experiments to a series of groundbreaking hybrid video-film collaborations with Nam June Paik. Transcending and transforming media as he explored and merged film, video, expanded cinema, electronic manipulations, performance and installation, he created and collaborated on seminal intermedia projects with numerous artists, filmmakers, musicians and performers. Yalkut was also active as a teacher, curator and writer; his 350-page manuscript Electronic Zen is an essential cultural history of the nascent alternative video scene. For more information, visit https://www.eai.org/artists/jud-yalkut/biography.
(1) John Buchanan in conversation with Joe Wakeman, May 2023. According to Buchanan, “in those early ’70s days, there was an ideological divide between filmmakers and video artists, and very few people appeared to cross over between them… Filmmakers at the time were more individualistic, would work alone, whereas video people would work collectively or in groups, in part because the equipment required at the time was more complex. Splicing video in the early ’70s was an elaborate undertaking….” (2) "The Kitchen: An Image and Sound Laboratory: A Rap with Woody and Steina Vasulka, Shridhar Bapat and Dimitri Devyatkin." Excerpt from Jud Yalkut, Open Circuits: The New Video Abstractionists Part 3, http://www.vasulka.org/Kitchen/essays_yalkud/K_Yalkut.html. (3) "A Proposal for Continued Funding; Various proposals for the Kitchen; Steina and Woody Vasulka, Shridhar Bapat, Dimitri Devyatkin," circa 1972. http://www.vasulka.org/archive/Kitchen/KBI/KBI.pdf.
Video Viewing Room was initiated with the support of the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust; annual grants from Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation and Howard Gilman Foundation; and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.