Apr 14, 2015

My Trip aka Too Much PERC: The Films of Jud Yalkut at Anthology Film Archives

Last fall I had the chance to work on a truly remarkable collection from the NY underground filmmaker Jud Yalkut at Anthology Film Archives. I started my internship at the archive right when AFA had just received and begun to process the donation that included Yalkut's own films and videos and work by other artists, such as Yayoi Kusama, Nam June Paik, and Paul Sharits. Now Yalkut's films have been programmed into the current AFA calendar and we all have the chance to space out to his experiments with music and footage on June 5-6.

Jud Yalkut Is Happening!: Programs 1 and 2

My hours at the archive were spent organizing, inspecting, repairing/cleaning, cataloging, and rehousing Yalkut's super8mm and 16mm films. Throughout this time I saw some really incredible stuff. The film loupe was by my side as a wound through feet of film stopping to take a closer look at the individual frames of a topless Charlotte Moorman covered only by her cello or John Cage picking a mushroom.

During inspection I would open a can and not know what to expect. Sometimes a film would be in okay condition and I'd catalog it according to the filmography and information on the source can, other times I would spend hours cleaning off old tape residue with perchloroethylene (a chemical solution often used for dry cleaning clothing), replacing splices, and perhaps have limited to no information about the film on the filmography or source can. To have all the materials in perfect condition and order is an archivist's dream but the reality is that no collection is complete with documentation and perfect organization at the point of acquisition. It takes a long time and a lot of work to get from the point of processing a collection to finally presenting it. Inspection, repair, and cataloging are the preliminary steps to taking in a collection with further preservation actions to follow. When it comes to presentation, archivists and programmers work together to prioritize and curate a selection of films based on content and what materials can be safely projected in their original form or digitized. 

Here is a favorite of mine that I had the chance to work on: Yalkut's version of his intimate shared moments with the band, The Godz

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