The Vasulkas Make Room for Video

The Vasulkas Make Room for Video

“The Vasulkas videoed everything,” recalled Pork actor Tony Zanetta. “They didn’t just videotape theater, they did it all. They have an incredible archive of everything that went on downtown.” Steina and Woody Vasulka could be seen shooting a Fillmore East underground rock band or behind the video camera at an Off-Off-Broadway show. Steina taped her friend Jackie Curtis’s first play, Glory, Glamour, and Gold, as well as Femme Fatale and Vain Victory a few years later. “That’s how I discovered that this was what I should do, shooting video,” she said, “and then after that, Jackie would always call when she thought we should be there.” In 1970, the Vasulkas got an opportunity to fix up the Mercer Arts Center’s old kitchen, which is how the venue got its name. “Everyone thought the Kitchen would sound mystical,” Steina said, “like we were going to cook art in there.” In addition to Shirley and Wendy Clarke’s Tee Pee Video Space Troupe and Videofreex, several other downtown video groups had formed by the early 1970s—Raindance, People’s Video Theater, Global Village—most of which made use of the Kitchen. “People would be coming with a tape, which was at that time reel-to-reel, just totally hot,” she said. “They ripped it off their equipment and ran as fast as they could down there to show it.”

From Chapter 28 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Mercer Arts Center
240 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012