How did the Videofreex Archive get to herstory by Mary Curtis

By Skip

According to phone conversation Mary Curtis and I recently had (with letters to and from MCR on file that verify some of the process):

In 1998 or so, Curtis got curious about an edit of her and Cy Griffin’s September 1971 wedding, with footage from 5 or so portapaks covering the ceremony and surroundings; also, about a Buckaroo Bart episode called “Mail Order Bride” that does include an edited scene of her wedding; also maybe there was an existing tape of the Marx Bros satire that Shirley Clarke directed and made up as production went along in production with a large cast and crew of Freex and friends during the wedding that I don’t think we ever found.

Anyway, Curtis found the wedding edit tape rummaging through boxes of some of the tapes that were on the shelves at Maple Tree Farm that ended up in Parry & Carol’s attic in Phoenicia. At that point, shazzam!, she recognized the value of the rich trove of culture and art that Videofreex collection possessed on the degrading videotapes.

She had her wedding footage on AV format videotape transferred to vhs, then spent 8 years on-and-off seeking an institution that would house and exploit the collection, contacting relevant people, including somehow the President of Sony Corporation, curators at MoMA and other art institutions, etc. as opportunities arose. Finally she found Kate Horsfeld at Video Data Bank, which has enormous collection already of early video and especially women’s issues, artists interviews, and abstract and performative video art that Videofreex collection includes, who was very receptive to the responsibility and opportunity to steward the more than 1200 half-inch and one-inch videotapes of various formats, in the basements, closets and attics of several Freex.

That’s when I came on board to create, with the assistance of lawyer Patricia Crown, Esq., the Videofreex Partnership, a formal entity to assign distribution rights to VDB and to facilitate the transfer the boxes of unrestored videos. First they were delivered by Freex to Kate’s garret in Manhattan, that is observed in “Here Come the Videofreex, ” then driven by Kate to Chicago (in a blizzard!).

Now, under the professional stewardship of Abina Manning, Tom Colley and excellent support staff, the Videofreex Archive, stored in archival conditions in a stable and respected arts and academic institution, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has been indexed in an extensive spreadsheet, and slowly restored as demand arises, including for documentaries, research for features and academic purposes as well as personal remembrances.

One comment

  1. Reblogged this on desde El Patio Verde del Video and commented:
    De cómo videofreex se convirtió en

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