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The constant need for more space in Anthology Film Archives


Our headquarters at 80 Wooster Street
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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We moved to Wooster Street in '74. During the renovation transitional period, it was transitional period when we lent, made a space available to other activities and that's where Richard Foreman staged, I think, two, maybe three of his very, very early productions and some other theatrical and a lot of music; where Phil Glass gave his first concert in New York, when he came back from India and his music changed. And Henry Flynt and Lamont Young, we had a lot of... Ornette Coleman, music going during that period. And then in... since we needed money to renovate the new building that we acquired in '79, in '79 we sold Wooster Street facility, place and used some of that money towards renovation of the new building.

So the... the programs were discontinued practically by '79 on 80 Wooster Street. Now, what 80 Wooster did also was that I had befriended, you know, George Maciunas already in 1952, 1953 and when he... when, you know, began working, developing his little Fluxus movement and when in '67 I acquired 80 Wooster space, he had no place to live so I gave him the basement to live and work. And that's where he stayed for 10 years until he was beaten up by Mafia and had to move out of New York. That's another story. But all the activity, 10 years of Fluxus activities took place at 80 Wooster Street and that was very... of course, was very important for George, was very important for the whole Fluxus movement, that he had a place where he, you know... I allowed him to do whatever he wanted and, of course, he used the street also and Nam June Paik did some of his events there also with Charlotte Morman, it was a place not only of cinema but of Fluxus and some related activities of that period.

Jonas Mekas (1922-2019), Lithuanian-born poet, philosopher and film-maker, set up film collectives, the Anthology Film Archive, published filmzines and made hundreds of films, all contributing to his title as 'the godfather of American avant-garde cinema'. He emigrated to America after escaping from a forced labour camp in Germany in 1945.

Listeners: Amy Taubin

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor for "Film Comment" magazine and "Sight and Sound" magazine. Her book, "Taxi Driver", was published in 2000 in the British Film Institute's Film Classics series. Her chapter on "America: The Modern Era" is part of "The Critics Choice" published by Billboard Press, 2001, and her critical essays are included in many anthologies, mostly recently in "Frank Films: The Film and Video Work of Robert Frank" published by Scalo.

She wrote for "The Village Voice" weekly from 1987 into 2001 both as a film and a television critic. She also wrote a column for the "Village Voice" titled "Art and Industry" which covered American independent filmmaking. Her first weekly film criticism job was at the "SoHo Weekly News". Her writing has also appeared in "Art Forum", the "New York Times", the "New York Daily News", the "LA Weekly", "Millennium Film Journal", "US Harpers Bazaar" and many other magazines. She is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Online.

She started her professional life as an actress, appearing most notably on Broadway in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", and in avant-garde films, among them Michael Snow's "Wavelength", Andy Warhol's "Couch", and Jonas Mekas' "Diaries, Notebooks and Sketches".

Her own avant-garde film, "In the Bag" (1981) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Friends of Young Cinema Archives in Berlin.

She was the video and film curator of "The Kitchen" from 1983-1987.

She has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from N.Y.U. in cinema studies. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in both the undergraduate and the MFA graduate programs, and lectures frequently at museums, media centers, and academic institutions. In 2003, she received the School of Visual Arts' art historian teaching award.

Tags: 80 Wooster Street, Richard Foreman, Phil Glass, Henry Flynt, Lamont Young, Ornette Coleman, George Maciunas, Nam June Paik

Duration: 3 minutes, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010