The Estate Project continues its AIDS activist video preservation project. Support from the New York Community Trust/Royal S. Marks Foundation Fund and grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Snowdon Foundation have enabled us to establish the Royal S. Marks AIDS Activist Video Collection at the New York Public Library. At present, the collection comprises 596 remastered videotapes documenting the grassroots response to the AIDS crisis in the United States. The collection includes both finished tapes and source material from more than thirty donors and at least eight cities across the United States. From the work of collectives like Gran Fury and WAVE (Women’s AIDS Video Enterprise) that were the vanguard of the AIDS activist video movement to interviews conducted by the GMHC Oral History Project in the early years of the epidemic, the collection is a central resource for students and scholars of AIDS cultural history. The collection also marks a crucial moment in the development of video as a genre, containing some of the most innovative examples of experimental, documentary, and activist art of the late twentieth century.
In December 2000, the Guggenheim Museum hosted Fever in the Archivea series of eight shows of work from the Royal S. Marks Collection. The same program has been shown at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the Milwaukee Lesbian and Gay Film Festival at the University of Wisconsin, and the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. VHS copies of the Fever in the Archive program are available for distribution to libraries, archives and other interested parties. Email the Estate Project if you are interested in showing the videos.
the need for preservation
Our focus is the preservation of primary historical material for future generations. These images would otherwise simply disappear in the not-too-distant future because of the fragility of videotape. Most of this material was shot on Hi-8 and edited on 4/4-inch tape, two highly vulnerable formats. Moreover, the tapes have been stored under the worst climate conditions (i.e., in makers' and activists' apartments). To intervene and save as much material as possible, the Estate Project coordinates the remastering of tapes to Beta SP and their storage under temperature- and humidity-controlled conditions in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library. Independent curator and filmmaker Jim Hubbard has supervised and catalogued the collection. James Wentzy, a video practitioner and preservationist, inventories and remasters onsite at a Library facility.
how you can help
Summer 2002 Update: Funding shortages threaten to indefinitely discontinue the video project. The Estate Project is seeking funds to complete the preservation of 1,000 hours of fragile footage slated for the collection. If you would like to make a contribution to our work, please contact us.