New York Times Article

Downtown, Before the Gentry Moved In
Published: December 25, 2012

For some of us it’s still a bit of a shock to encounter a Whole Foods on the corner of Bowery and Houston Street with a sign outside that reads, “Bowery Self-Serve Cookie Bar: Because It’s Been That Kind of Day.” For more than a century, after all, and until very recently, the Bowery was known for trafficking in substances considerably stronger than cookies.

Philip Greenberg for The New York Times
“Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969-1989”: The door to an apartment is among the displays in this exhibition on the fifth floor of the New Museum.

The New Museum, two blocks south, offers the same kind of cognitive dissonance: a gleaming tower devoted to high-end globalized art, it is a similar product of gentrification. And yet, as a museum, it has the ability — some would say the mandate — to address its relationship to the past and its location. This is exactly what “Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969-1989,” organized by Ethan Swan, an education associate at the museum, does — and rather successfully for a small show.
The definition of art here is appropriately broad. A tattered Ramones T-shirt sits on a hanger across from the door taken from Keith Haring’s Broome Street apartment, blazoned with tags by graffiti artists like Fab 5 Freddy. (Interestingly, curators were made aware of the door by a museum security guard who lives in the area.)
Fliers that were originally (and illegally) wheatpasted downtown now cover the walls of a back hallway on the museum’s fifth floor, where the show is mounted, announcing long-ago performances by bands like the Contortions, Liquid Liquid, Y Pants, Glenn Branca and the Ramones. (“New York’s Phenomenal Pop Combo,” says a flier for a show at CBGB, a Bowery alt-culture landmark.) Others advertise art exhibitions, like a flier for Artists for Survival at ABC No Rio, which reads, “You Want It? We Got It. 1. Gurgling Sculpture/2. Metal Clothing/3. Paintings/4. Cast Heads/5. Posters/6. Objects de Religion/7. Outdoor Sculpture Garden/8. And More.”
A similar sort of humor pervades Marc H. Miller and Bettie Ringma’s “Paparazzi Self-Portraits” (1976-80), a series of faded snapshots displayed in a vitrine for which the artists took turns photographing each other with celebrities like Andy Warhol, William S. Burroughs and Angela Davis. Later the concept of celebrity took a slightly different turn, as Mr. Miller and Ms. Ringma spent more time at CBGB photographing musicians like Patti Smith, the Talking Heads, Suicide and the Ramones.
Experimental film and video are represented by Coleen Fitzgibbon’s “Daily News” and “L.E.S.” (both 1976), which use appropriated images and sound to create a picture of ’70s downtown life; Paul Tschinkel’s “Hannah’s Haircut” (1975), a black-and-white video depicting the artist Hannah Wilke, topless, giving Claes Oldenburg a haircut; and films of Charles Simonds creating his miniature, archeology-inspired “Dwellings” in different public spaces.
A series of three thin, zine-like publications titled “Bowery Artist Tribute” (Volumes 1-3) extends the show’s reach into oral history and documentation. By the beginning of its run in September, more than 400 artists had been cataloged, with information about their creative output, from minimalist sculpture to graffiti.
As marginal as many of these artists were during the era covered by this show, there are plenty of clear links between what’s on view here and “official” art and the art world. Mr. Simonds, for instance, eventually created one of the “Dwellings” in a stairwell at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Fragments from drip-style paintings that Mr. Haring made and displayed in public places connect his activities with those of earlier downtown painters like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Martin Wong’s canvas “Study for La Vida” (1984) is in the lineage of ’30s Social Realism. Adrian Piper’s “Hypothesis: Situation #11” (1969) is a classic photo-conceptual work, complete with grid paper and text. And Marcia Resnick and Cindy Rupp’s photographs mounted in outdoor sites in the ’70s hew to the conventions of site-specific installation, which became popular right around that time.
Such connections can be stretched by revisionism, as in a wall label describing Adam Purple’s Garden of Eden — a guerrilla garden cultivated on empty, city-owned lots east of the Bowery — as a “monumental earthwork.”
Adam Purple’s giant, circular yin-yang garden was bulldozed in 1986 to make way for a housing project, and photographs of it in the show are something like pagan relics unearthed at a long-since Christianized religious site. Which may be an apt metaphor for the Bowery and its environs as a whole, a place where pagan culture once ruled, but now, rather than being entirely erased, is visible in traces, having been absorbed and transformed by the new era and ethos.
“Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969-1989” continues through Dec. 30 at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, at Prince Street, Lower East Side; (212) 219-1222,
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: December 27, 2012

Schedule information on Wednesday with an art review of “Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969-1989,” at the New Museum in Manhattan, included an outdated closing date for the exhibition. It runs through Sunday, not through Jan. 6.

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Kitchen-Sink Experimental(Re-)Discovering Coleen Fitzgibbon
By Holly Willis Wednesday, Nov 19 2008

Coleen Fitzgibbon

One of the gratifying side effects of contemporary media overload and its frequent inanity is a keen hunger of viewers for challenging, provocative work, and what better place to search for it than the history of avant-garde cinema? New York–based artists Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder did just that, and came up with the experimental films of Coleen Fitzgibbon, a rediscoverd artist who produced a cogent body of work dedicated to exploring the possibilities of the medium during the early 1970s. In the four-minute Found Film Flashes (1973), Fitzgibbon, who worked under the pseudonym “Colen Fitzgibbon,” crafts an elliptical evocation of desire and sexual spectacle out of found footage, opening with fragments of black-and-white shots of a man looking downward. She then cuts to shots of various women, and the images stutter in scratchy, staccato beats, the anxiety and sexual tension in the visuals augmented by the discomfiting and glitchy irritation of the soundtrack. In the 12-minute film FM/TRCS (1974), we experience sequences of brightly colored pulsing orbs and globular shapes — a breast, perhaps? Or a hip? Fleshy thighs? A nipple? Or maybe they’re just orbs of pulsating color — it’s hard to know! Fitzgibbon destroys representation, leaving behind light, color, rhythm and texture, and yet the suggestion of the body remains. Also from 1974, Restoring the Appearance to Order opens with the sounds of running water, then an image of a dirty, paint-splattered sink. A woman steps into the frame and begins to scour, scrubbing away the paint and grime. The camera remains static; the shot continues for a full 12 minutes, ending abruptly before the task is complete, the work of art offering but a glimpse of the labor around it. The history of smart, feminist, experimental films has been sadly neglected; this program represents the brilliance waiting to be revisited. (Los Angeles Filmforum at the Egyptian Theatre; Sun., Nov. 23, 7 p.m.

LA Film Forum at the Egyptian Theatre

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Text Films 1974-76

TEXT FILMS 1974-1976 Notes C. Fitzgibbon

Document / Public Records 1974 16mm, 17 min, no sound / 2009 digital, 8:34 min, sound
Dictionary 1975 16mm, 3 min, no sound / 2010 digital, 3 min, sound
Time 1975 16mm, 8 min, sound / 2009 digital, 8 min, sound
Der Spiegel 1976 16mm, 9min, no sound; 16mm, 7 min, sound / 2011 digital, 9:54 min, sound
Daily News 1976 super8 mm, 11:26 min, no sound / 2011 digital, 9:54 min, sound
Sybar 2012 digital, 3 min, sound

Text films were first filmed in the seventies on a microfilm stationary 16mm camera stand, Document (Public Records) was the first of five from 1974-76 and was a composite of documents that I had filmed and copied; it was an idea conceived from the document storage/retrieval company I was working for, the Metropolitan Information Technology Center and from my interest in ancient Chinese painting and calligraphy and the royal or civil stamps on their surfaces that dictated ownership.

Dictionary, 1975, was filmed in several parts, though only the R and the Un- sections have survived from the filming of Webster’s. Dictionary is also slightly referential to Wittgenstein’s Yellow and Blue Books.

Time, 1975, filmed cover to cover, is an English language monthly periodical.

Der Spiegel, 1975, filmed cover to cover, is a German language monthly periodical. I saw it as a parallel to Time.

Daily News, 1976, filmed cover to cover, is an English language daily newspaper .

Sybar, 2012/1976, is a variation of Dictionary.

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IS Internal System

IS Internal System: Autonomic Investigation: A Film that Refers to its own Processes 1974-75

In 1974 FM/TRCS was accepted to be shown by the Experimntl 5 Film Festival in Knokke-Heist, Belgium, in a casino by the sea. Agfa Gevaert Film was also sending to all filmmakers accepted into the festival, 400 foot rolls of undeveloped 16mm new agfa color 6.15 stock to be used to make a second film for the festival.

My proposal to them for the new film would be a 45 minute film exploring the internal mechanics of shooting four rolls of film using their new stock. I immediately set off researching the spec details of the new stock in comparison to their other films and comparing it to what I knew about Kodak stock which I had been working with. I had shot some Agfa super8 in Greece in ’73 and liked the pastel colors. Kodak, after Kodachrome was no longer available had sacrificed purer colors in exchange for a more versatile stock resulting in ectrachrome’s brown/cyan look. For artists this felt like someone had dumped dirt into the pigments.

A Few Notes from 1974:
“I am dissatisfied with the metaphoric quality of film where light is used to record ‘reflections’ onto the emulsion in order to create a story. Sound on film has a more immediate physical presence than image on film as sound exists in space and is not limited to the square of light that movie images are bound to. Film should be as active as music, its referent itself. The linear projection of images draws us out of the temporal fluctuation of light and into the dream-like state of thoughts; the new film needs to be without images.

The mechanics of recording and projecting film is based on the mechanics of the body: eyes, ears and brain, the logic of a system of connecting functions. Light is a catalyst for change in living matter, including gelatin on celluloid; the structure that a film runs through is the non-organic/organic equivalent of the structure that a bio-electrical impulse runs through. The camera is the beginning of the end of the necessity of bio functions as we know them and the beginning of the possibility of artificial intelligence. Tools, once the extension of the human brain, are the threshold to developing primitive bio logic systems into new not necessarily organic reflexions.

The value of the film’s subject matter has always been considered greater than its recording process (light enters the camera, activates the silver halide grains in the layers of the exposed film’s gelatin emulsion and then is developed/processed in a chemical bath, the resulting ‘images’ the raison d’etre).

Internal System is an investigation to its expose the filmic process and test the limits of recording while keeping in mind the human need to duplicate itself in mechanical terms, to explore one’s own functions thru creating a parallel system (body vs mechanical system).

The film is divided into four parts of 400ft each: light to dark, dark to dark, dark to light and light to light, based not on identifiable visual changes but quantitative changes (the amount of light or its lack)
by using the fstop changes on the camera lens. The sound is recorded from the camera motor that parallels the change in fstop onto the optical track of the film; the Auricon camera records sound as a variable density track on the right side of the film. The algorithm for the four light variations was constructed by Joanne Elam and myself. The beginning title of the film reflects the technical specifications required to create the film.”

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FM/TRCS 1973-74

FM/TRCS (sometimes reversed by my dislexic brain as TRCS/FM) which I filmed on 8mm first and then optically printed onto 16mm Kodachrome using hi and low contrast mattes to over and under expose the film stock. During this time, 1973 thru 1974, I was living in NYC at the Whitney Program and traveling back/forth to Chicago to use the printer; I owe a great deal of thanks to Bill Brand and Louis Hock for getting SAIC to buy the printer and teaching me how to use it early on.

The original 8mm film (originally called Frame of Mind or FM) was conceived as a very personal attempt to examine and dispel my mental state triggered by hallucinogens; I began filming a series of discreet activities that had become ritualized for me. Unfortunately I had a disturbing reaction to the images in FM when I viewed the film, but then it occurred to me that color, light and sound were as important if not more so than recognizable images. As (negatively) attached as I was to the images there was no need for them. The painting world had already dismissed recognizable forms.

Watching Murnau’s Faust I realized that the continual printing of copies of the film caused increased halation around the images, softening and obscuring them. The peculiar property of light on film is that with greater intensity it spreads outward into areas not in its definition; increased light excites the silver haloid particles exponentially. Thus reprinting with contrast mattes was the appropriate method to obscure the image. The wild sound from the original activities was rerecorded until the sound wave cycle is compromised.

FM/TRCS was first shown at the Knokke-Heist Expermntl 5 Film Festival in Belgium in 1975/76 and received third prize (prix de Albert Frere).


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Viennale October 25-November 7, 2012

Coleen Fitzgibbon will be showing 8 films and speaking at Viennale.


Der Spiegel
Trip To Carolee
Daily News
X Magazine Benefit
Rich Poor

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Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery 1969-1989 At The New Museum

09/19/12 – 01/06/13

“Come Closer” is an exhibition that takes the Bowery as subject, site, and center for creative ingenuity in the 1970s and 1980s.

Drawing upon the New Museum’s Bowery Artist Tribute archive and the online archive of Marc H. Miller,, this exhibition features original artwork, ephemera, and performance documentation by over fifteen artists who lived and worked on or near the Bowery in New York.

Coleen Fitzgibbon installing the exhibition “Income and Wealth” at 5 Bleecker Street, 1979. Courtesy Coleen Fitzgibbon

During these two decades, the Bowery was commonly identified with the furthest extremes of metropolitan decline—municipal neglect, homelessness, and substance abuse. As landlords and civil services abandoned the neighborhood, the subsequent cheap rents and permissive atmosphere drew artists downtown. The Bowery’s lofts provided a social network where painters, photographers, performance artists, musicians, and filmmakers exchanged ideas and drew inspiration from this concentration of creative activity.
Propelled by this nourished, insurgent spirit, many artists downtown turned their attention towards the Bowery, inviting a re-examination of this neglected zone through their works: subjective, deeply personal portraits documented points of sympathy between neighbors; unsanctioned public art marked territory and adjusted the landscape; and DIY and collective practices pushed generations of institutional rigidity aside for a diversification of materials, gestures, and voices. As this influx of artists helped shaped the Bowery, the neighborhood helped shape generations of artists.
This exhibition will include works by artists including Coleen Fitzgibbon, Keith Haring, John Holmstrom, Curt Hoppe, Marc H. Miller, Adrian Piper, Adam Purple, Dee Dee Ramone, Joey Ramone, Marcia Resnick, Bettie Ringma, Arleen Schloss, Charles Simonds, Eve Sonneman, Billy Sullivan, Paul Tschinkel, Arturo Vega, and Martin Wong, among others.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the New Museum will publish the third volume of the Bowery Artist Tribute publication. Both a celebration and exploration of the Museum’s neighborhood, the Bowery Artist Tribute is a vibrant resource for visitors and neighbors to tap into the history of the neighborhood, its creative residents, and their contributions to contemporary culture.

Adam Purple, on the roof of his home at 184 Forsyth Street 1982. Photo, Harvey Wang

Arturo Vega. Photo booth self portraits, ca 1974. Black and white photographs, courtesy of Arturo Vega.






Swan, Ethan, ed., Bowery Artist Tribute Vol. 3 (Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969-1989; 09/19/12 – 12/30/12) New Museum (NYC, 2012) 6-7

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Hunter College Show Sept 14-Dec 8

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Oculto #2 in conjunction with Oporto, in Portugal

Na sexta-feira, dia 10 de Fevereiro pelas 19 horas, o Oporto  lança-se à segunda sessão Oculta, numa tentativa de superar a precedente. Desta vez a noite estará a cargo de Alan Moore, artista plástico e historiador, que nos virá falar sobre o movimento associativo COLAB , as suas acções e membros. A  Colab, Collaborative Projects Inc., foi uma comunidade artistica de Lower East Side, uma network de esquerda, empenhada na troca livre de ideias e na discussão democrática de projectos para a reabilitação da cidade. Alan Moore focar-se-á nas estratégias de “sobrevivência” desta  comunidade de artistas, nos seus feitos e acções bem como no impacto que esta teve na definição da cena artistica Nova-iorquina do final dos anos 70 e princípio dos anos 80. Antecedendo a conversa, apresentaremos o filme “L.E.S.” de Colen Fitzgibbon, outra artista membro da Colab, filme sobre o colapso da ilha problemática de Manhattan, cujos habitantes idolatram o deus John Doe.

Tal como na primeira vez, a sessão acabará com um jantar gentilmente providenciado pelo publico.
Esta sessão é apoiada pela já mítica comunidade artística de Lisboa – ZDB.

Dado o limite de lugares agradecíamos que confirmassem a vinda.

Um abraço,

Coleen Fitzgibbon aka Colen Fitzgibbon é uma brilhante realizadora de filmes experimentais, discípula de Owen Land  aka George Landow, e colaboradora de Dennis Oppenheim, Gordon Matta-Clark e Les Levine. Em 1976 formou X&Y com Robin Winters e The Offices of Fend com Holzer, Nadin, Prince e Winters em 1978. Foi uma das fundadora da Colab, com outros quarenta artistas.

Alan W. Moore trabalhou com o grupo de artistas Colab e ajudou a criar o centro cultural  ABC No Rio. Escreve sobre arte, grupos de artistas, política e  squatters na Europa. Escreveu “Art Gangs: Protest and Counterculture in New YoYork City” (Autonomedia, 2011), e capítulos para “Alternative Art NY”, (ed. Blake Stimson & Gregory Sholette), “Collectivism after Modernism”, “Resistance: A Political History of the Lower East Side” (Clayton Patterson). De momento, Moore dirige “House Magic”, um projecto sobre centros auto-organizados de Ocupas.

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Review of Paul Sharits at the Greene-Naftali show 11/23/11-1/14/12 for Millenium Film Journal By Coleen Fitzgibbon

The Paul Sharits exhibition at Greene-Naftali in conjunction with Anthology Film Archives is his second posthumous show at the gallery, presenting two projected films Apparent Motion (1975) and 3rd Degree (1982) as well as nineteen plus framed works on paper and film strips under Plexiglas.
The works are pieces related to his studies of color and the illusion of motion and a few surprisingly personal references.

Sharits, known internationally for his brilliant structural experimental films and installations, often working with scientists and physicians, created a large body of work from the 1960’s through the 1980’s during his short mercurial lifetime. Many of his films, drawings and paintings have rarely been seen as a group and the work is still on the forefront of visual perception.

Apparent Motion, a short projected film loop, is a precursor to Sharits’ Axiomatic Granularity (1975) and later Third Degree (1982). Apparent Motion
employs the “phi phenomena” (Max Wertheimer, 1912), or the subjectivity of human perception in film motion where there is no real movement. Sharits optically printed magnified film grain particles on Tri-X black/white film, made a high contrast negative from which he created yellow, red and cyan versions and optically printed them together, resulting in a film with the appearance somewhere between colored atoms bouncing off the projection screen and an animation of a magnified Seurat painting. This film, rarely seen, is mesmerizing.

The 24 minute film 3rd Degree is projected as three loops on three projectors with double mirrors that turn the images horizontal and side by side with no gap between the projections, forming one large screen. 3rd Degree implies three dangers: the woman’s voice in the film under interrogation “Look I won’t talk,” the image of the woman being threatened by a lighted match and the ignition of the film and the emulsion of her image bubbling, only to have the film fast forward and repeat. This burning of the image is also referenced to George Landow’s 1967 Bardo Follies and Sharits later 1978 film Un-Framed Lines.

Often Sharits’ intellectual pursuits into the illusion of film and color seem to harbor darker implications than just pure abstraction, as echoed in some of the titles on his drawings such as Tallahassee Cloud Cover Anxiety, Cellular Disorder or the more psychedelic Lower Arm Infection and Reach, a drawing of a hand reaching out for help or drowning. As with Robert Smithson, whose earth-art Spiral Jetty piece belied some of his darker personal figurative drawings, Sharits was also pursued by a lifetime of complexities.

His film strip constructions on Plexiglas, Untitled (Frozen Film Frame) and Frozen Film Frame Series, are color frame studies whose titles pun the stop action of time and motion. The viewer perceives the possibility of motion and hue enhancement through the film strip constructions but as a esthetic concept. Sharits has often combined alternating color frames in his films, such as Epileptic Seizure Comparison, N.O.T.H.I.N.G and T.O.U.C.H.I.N.G, to create a sort of simulated state of empathetic color epilepsy.

Sharits’ drawings at Greene-Naftali range from structural graph-like landscapes to the conceptual. The drawing Sexuality 1 #27 could be read (possibly with humor) as a graph indicating a short pause, a medium active phase and possibly a long nadir, open to reader interpretation.

Paul Sharits, visionary-madman, merits more shows of his large body of work.

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