Coco Fusco: Cuba Portraits

11_08_Coco Fusco_La confesión_2015.jpgLa confesión (2015)

Thursday, November 8th, 6:00 p.m.
Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.

2015, Cuba / USA, multiple formats, 65 min + discussion, Coco Fusco in person.

Acclaimed artist and writer Coco Fusco will present two recent works in the program Coco Fusco: Cuba Portraits at Conversations at the Edge on Thursday, November 8th at 6:00 p.m. For more than 30 years, Coco Fusco has explored notions of race, identity, and power through video and performance.

The program will include La confesión (2015) and La botella al mar de María Elena (2015). Both created in 2015, La confesión explores the public confession of poet and accused counterrevolutionary Heberto Padilla, while La botella al mar de María Elena focuses on the state intimidation of political reformer María Elena Cruz Varela. These portraits examine the relationship of art and artists to our contemporary political moment while charting a legacy of regime power and control over information.

Conversations at the Edge is a dynamic weekly series of screenings, artist talks, and performances by some of the most compelling media artists of yesterday and today. CATE is organized by the Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Video Data Bank.

Read More:

Coco Fusco in conversation with Laila Pedro. Brooklyn Rail, October 5, 2015

Fusco, Coco. “The Revolution Is Dead – But Long Lives the State!” e-flux Journal 56th Venice Biennale, August 1, 2015

VDB at the National Media Market

2018 OfficialExhibitor_Badge.png

The Video Data Bank is delighted to announce our participation at the National Media Market & Conference (NMM), held October 7th-11th in Indianapolis! NMM is the world’s only dedicated event for library media acquisitions and media professionals. The National Media Market & Conference highlights the best media content and services for media libraries, and provides professional development to address constantly evolving issues for content acquisition, access, and promotion.

If you are planning on attending the conference, come see us in Suite #609! VDB’s Distribution Manager Zach Vanes, and Marketing and Development Manager Emily Eddy will be in attendance and available for meetings. Contact Emily at, and Zach at

Camilo Restrepo: Conversations at the Edge

09_20_Camilo Restrepo_cilaos_2016.jpg

Thursday, September 20th, 2018, 6pm

VDB artist Camilo Restrepo will be presenting his work at Conversations at the Edge on Thursday, September 20th. Originally from Colombia and now working in Paris, France, Camilo’s awarding winning works surround political struggle, violence, oppression, and protest.

The program will include La Bouche (2017), Cilaos (2016), La impresión de una guerra (2015), and Tropic Pocket (2011). A conversation with the artist will follow the program.

Conversations at the Edge is a dynamic weekly series of screenings, artist talks, and performances by some of the most compelling media artists of yesterday and today. CATE is organized by the Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Video Data Bank.

Video Data Bank at Projections NYFF!


Projections at New York Film Festival: October 4th-7th, 2018.

Two artists from the VDB collection have been selected for the 56th New York Film Festival’s Projections program: Sky Hopinka and Steve Reinke! VDB Executive Director Abina Manning will be in attendance during Projections.

Sky Hopinka will screen his new title, Fainting Spells. This new short work will have its world premiere as part of Program 3: Trips to the Interior.

Steve Reinke will be screening a new video work made in collaboration with the 57th Venice Bienniale’s Welsh Pavilion artist James Richards, entitled What Weakens the Flesh is the Flesh Itself. This forty-minute experimental video will have its U.S. premiere as part of Program 5: Persistent Analogues.

Check out the full festival program list here.

Projections presents an international selection of film and video work that expands upon our notions of what the moving image can do and be. Drawing on a broad range of innovative modes and techniques, including experimental narratives, avant-garde poetics, crossovers into documentary and ethnographic realms, and contemporary art practices, Projections brings together a diverse offering of short, medium, and feature-length work by some of today’s most vital and groundbreaking filmmakers and artists.

Projections is curated by Dennis Lim (FSLC Director of Programming) and Aily Nash (independent curator). Shelby Shaw is Program Coordinator. Thomas Beard (FSLC Programmer at Large) and Rachael Rakes (FSLC Programmer at Large) serve as Program Advisors. Projections is sponsored by MUBI.



2018 Academic Year-End Discount


Use Code FY2018 for 20% off any compilation or box set
Use Code YEAREND18 for 10% off any other purchase
Through June 30th, 2018

As this year’s academic year draws to a close, now is the time to add groundbreaking experimental video art to your institution’s media collection! Save up to 20% on purchases made before June 30th, 2018 by taking advantage of VDB’s academic year-end sale.

Video Data Bank’s multi-title compilations and box sets offer great value to educational institutions, allowing students, faculty, and researchers direct access to the work of moving image practitioners shaping the field of contemporary art today including A.K. Burns, Ximena Cuevas, Kevin Jerome Everson, Renée Green, Kent Lambert, Linda Montano, and Ezra Wube.

Curated by Abina Manning, VDB Executive Director
Looking in the Mirror, I See Me

2018, 01:12:24, 1 DVD

The emergence of video art tools in the late 1960s and early 1970s paved the way for an extraordinary number of outstanding art works by women. Captivated by the relative accessibility, portability and immediacy of Sony’s Video Portapak recording system, a significant number of female artists began to experiment with the video format. Often taking a direct-to-camera approach, many of the resulting works reflect the burgeoning feminist movement in the U.S. at the time. Featured artists include Lynda Benglis, Hermine Freed, Suzanne Lacy, Barbara Aronofsky Latham, Susan Mogul, and Linda Montano.

VDB TV: Decades
2017, 07:47:37, 5 DVDs

VDB TV: Decades is a unique series that casts a distinctive eye over the development of video as an art form from the early 1970s to the present, produced to mark the 40th anniversary of the Video Data Bank. Each program in this five-disc box set was curated by an inspiring artist, scholar, or media arts specialist focusing on a specific decade, including Robyn Farrell, Omar Kholeif, Aily Nash, Solveig Nelson, and Steve Reinke.

Kevin Jerome Everson
I Really Hear That: Quality Control and Other Works

2017, 02:49:00, 1 DVD

Kevin Jerome Everson combines the observational and theoretical in innovative ways that shed light on life in Black America. In doing so, Everson asks us to meditate on the implications of Blackness, labor, and creativity. An original essay entitled Working Over Time, written by Terri Francis, accompanies this compilation as ROM content.

VDB TV — Miyoko Ito: An Interview


Blumenthal/Horsfield | 1978 | 54:52 | United States | English | B&W | 4:3 | Video

Watch on VDB TV

About this program:

In 1978 Video Data Bank (VDB) co-founders Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield conducted an in-depth conversation with the late abstract surrealist Miyoko Ito (1918-1983). We are pleased to make this interview, part of VDB’s On Art and Artists collection, avaliable for viewing during the run of Ito’s retrospective Heart of Hearts (April 7th-May 6th, 2018) at Artists Space (NY).

This historical interview was edited in 2014 with the support of the Lyn Blumenthal Memorial Fund.

About Miyoko Ito:

“People say my paintings are the act of creation, and they are. The paintings are very much a part of life, like breathing. It’s very much do or die. I’m growing all the time. All those years of painting is the beginning all over again. It’s so wonderful.”

— Miyoko Ito

Miyoko Ito was born in Berkeley (CA) to Japanese parents in 1918. As a young girl, she spent several years with her mother and sister in Japan, where she first experimented with calligraphy and painting. Ito followed in her father’s footsteps by attending the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied watercolor under John Haley, Erle Loran, and Worth Ryder. Months before her graduation in 1942, Ito was sent to Tanforan, an internment camp south of San Francisco. Released years before her new husband, Ito briefly matriculated at Smith College (MA) before transferring to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (IL), where she received a scholarship but never graduated. Although, like many other Chicago artists, her efforts were highly susceptible to regionalization, Ito participated in the 1975 Whitney Biennial (NY), and was honored with a retrospective exhibition at the Renaissance Society (Chicago) in 1980. She was represented by the Phyllis Kind Gallery in Chicago and New York from the late 1960s through her death in 1983. Recent exhibitions include solo presentations at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Adam Baumgold Gallery (NY), VeneKlasen/Werner (Germany), and No Vacancies, a group presentation at Marianne Boesky Gallery (NY).

About the On Art and Artists collection:

On Art and Artists (OAA) is a unique collection of interviews and portraits of artists, musicians, performers, architects, theorists, and critics, spanning 1974 to the present. The OAA collection represents four decades of producing and acquiring interviews by the Video Data Bank, and features more than 400 available titles, of which at least half are interviews produced by the Video Data Bank and its co-founders Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield. In addition, the collection offers artist interviews produced by external producers and producing organizations — including Artists Television Network, Long Beach Museum of Art, and the University of Colorado — and experimental documentaries and portraits, many of them produced by other artists.

Over the last forty years the On Art and Artists collection has grown into an archive of considerable cultural and historical significance, comprised of interviews and portraits of some of the most noteworthy contemporary practitioners and thinkers from the U.S. and beyond. Originally conceptualized as a tool by which to provide art students with insight into their chosen creative fields, and the methodologies and processes available to them, the OAA collection now stands as a compelling testimony for wider audiences as to what it means to be an artist.

Recording interviews with artists has played a central role in the activities of the Video Data Bank since its founding, even while the resources were not always available to allow for editing and post-production. For the past several years VDB has been working to remedy this situation and to increase educational access to this significant body of work. With the assistance of funds from the Lyn Blumenthal Memorial Fund, many of the Blumenthal/Horsfield interviews, often unseen for decades, were finally digitized, preserved and edited. As part of an extensive and ongoing drive to preserve and digitize the entire collection, VDB has worked to make scores more of these unique interviews available through its distribution program.

From Abromović to Wodiczko, the On Art and Artists collection offers those interested in art history, contemporary practices and education a rare and rewarding study guide, offering insight into the lives, practices and methodologies of some of the most vital practitioners of our time.

Spotlight — The American Tapes: Tales of Immigration


We are delighted to spotlight Louis Hock’s The American Tapes: Tales of Immigration (2013), a four-part series that revisits the life and and times of four families last portrayed as “undocumented” immigrants in his 1986 Mexican Tapes series.

Use discount code AMERICANTAPES for a 10% discount when purchased or rented with The American Tapes companion work The Mexican Tapes through May 31st, 2018.

“Most people think of immigration as a finite moment; but as a story it really spans several generations and two nations. My production, The American Tapes: Tales of Immigration, depicts this broad view by expanding the time frame of my 1978-86 work, The Mexican Tapes: A Chronicle of Life Outside the Law. The new work of four one-hour episodes affords an intimate and long-term reflection on the life and times of four extended families from Mexico, during the interval from 1986 to the present, most going from “undocumented” to citizenship status.”
— Louis Hock (2014)

Ephraim Asili: The Diaspora Suite at Conversations at the Edge

Ephraim Asili: The Diaspora Suite
Conversations at the Edge
February 22nd, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago

Ephraim Asili, still from American Hunger, 2013

Thursday, February 22nd, 6.00 p.m.
Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.

In 2011, New York-based filmmaker, DJ, and traveler Ephraim Asili began an extraordinary series of films on the African diaspora. These films—Forged Ways (2011), American Hunger (2013), Many Thousands Gone (2015), Kindah (2016), and Fluid Frontiers (2017)—bring together archival research and Asili’s travels through Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jamaica, and the United States to chart cultural connections across time and space. Fluid Frontiers, for example, explores ideas of resistance and liberation through Detroit’s Broadside Press, one of the most important presses for Black poetry. Asili asks residents of Detroit and nearby Windsor, Ontario, to read these poems without rehearsal, potently collapsing history, contemporary politics, and art through their magnetic performances. In earlier works like American Hunger, Asili knits together images from downtown Accra, Ghana’s coastal slave forts, and the Jersey Shore in an effort to understand his own relationship with Western colonialism and US imperialism.

2011–17, multiple countries, digital file, ca 92 min + discussion

Ephraim Asili’s films have screened in festivals and venues all over the world, including the New York Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Ann Arbor Film Festival, Michigan; San Francisco International Film Festival; Milan Film Festival, Italy; International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Netherlands; MoMA PS1, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Whitney Museum, New York. As a DJ, Asili can be heard on his radio program In The Cut on WGXC, or live at his monthly dance party Botanica. Asili currently resides in Hudson, New York, and is an Assistant Professor in the Film and Electronic Arts department at Bard College.

Read More
Fluid Frontiers—Wavelengths, Jesse Cumming, Cinema Scope (2017)

Meet the Distribution Team at VDB: A Q&A with Emily Eddy and Zach Vanes

IMG-5328.JPGDistribution Assistant Emily Eddy and Distribution Manager Zach Vanes

With well over 1,000 national and international orders being placed with VDB every year, the distribution team — Distribution Assistant Emily Eddy and Distribution Manager Zach Vanes — are kept on their toes. In an effort to shed some light on the work of this dynamic duo, VDB’s Development and Marketing Manager George William Price sat down with Emily and Zach to discuss all things distribution and video art related!

Tell us a little about distribution at VDB — what does your job as Distribution Manager involve?

Zach Vanes: As the distribution manager, my job is very much about the ways that the work held at Video Data Bank is seen in the outside world. Unlike a painting or sculpture, a video can be shown as part of a museum’s permanent collection, at a commercial gallery, in a neighborhood microcinema, at an international film festival, or placed in university library; and it can appear in these spaces all at the same time! On a daily basis, I’m interacting with multiple levels of the contemporary art world on behalf of the artists represented by Video Data Bank.

What’s the favorite aspect of your role as Distribution Assistant?

Emily Eddy: I love being able to help our artists get what they need and deserve from the institutions we work with. So often artists aren’t paid by museums, galleries, and educational spaces, especially when working in time-based media. Artists are often made to believe that exposure is worth their labor, and though sometimes that is true, it’s not always the case. When Zach or I make a museum sale or arrange a major exhibition and get to relay the good news to the artist, that’s a really great feeling.

What has been your most memorable distribution puzzle that you’ve encountered during your time at VDB and how did you overcome it?

ZV: We’re dealing with all levels of the contemporary art ecosystem. The main responsibility of the Distribution Manager is to understand the difference between a film festival screening and a university library acquisition, or major art museum and a microcinema. If you don’t understand who you’re working with, and also the artists you represent, the work won’t circulate. At the end of the day, I want the work to be out in the world.

How has your understanding of video as an art form changed during your time at VDB?

EE: I studied in the Film, Video, New Media & Animation department when I was an undergraduate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and I’ve been curating and programming video since college as well, so I had a pretty good understanding of the form of video before I started here. However, I now have such an amazing grasp of the history of video art and video itself as a physical medium. I knew the basics of the history of video, but I had never seen the physical forms that people have used over the years, like half-inch open reel and U-matic tape, to older digital forms like Laserdisc and all the variations in between. I’ve learned so much from our Archive and Collection Manager, Tom Colley and our former Digitization Specialist, Kristin MacDonough; it’s been really fun to dig through the archive.

Where in the world has your position as Distribution Manager taken you?

ZV: In 2017, I spoke about the Video Data Bank at the Cairo Video Festival (Egypt), presented a program of new acquisitions at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany), and attended Projections at the New York Film Festival. Travel allows me to share information about VDB face to face, and see up close how art spaces and festivals operate. Most importantly, when I travel I get to meet the artists who are currently thinking about video and creating the work.

As VDB’s Distribution Assistant you work with a great many moving-image festivals. Have you noticed any recent trends in the artists and types of moving image they are choosing to showcase?

EE: There are so many different trends in video art that come and go rather quickly, but for the past few years I think experimental documentary has been one trend that’s stuck – and rightly so; it’s really limitless and ripe for socially, culturally, and politically important and interesting work. I also see artists making longer works, in the 30-50 minute range. This directly challenges the festival model, which has always been generally split between shorts and features, shorts being under 30 minutes, and features being over 60. There was always a hole there where if you make a 45-minute piece, even if it’s amazing in every way, it’s more challenging to curate as part of a larger program. I think that that mentality is really changing, and I’m interested to see more and more mid-length and feature experimental works.

VDB as an organization is now more than 40-years old. Why do you think that the distribution of uneditioned video art is still relevant and necessary in the field of contemporary art today?

ZV: I think that distribution has incredible value in a time when artists are expected to be theorist, gallerist, and publicist of their work all the time. The fact that video can go anywhere and be seen at any time only increases that weight of responsibility. On the other hand, for artists, curators, and scholars, it’s an incredible innovation to have works of art that cannot be regulated by a single collector or institution. My hope is to mitigate the strain of the globalized art world on our artists while helping them to capitalize on the opportunities that are available within the current system.

Name some video works from the collection currently on your mind, and the reasons why.

ZV: A lot of my work experience prior to Video Data Bank involved documentary programming/ production/distribution. Because of that experience, I really appreciate artists who radically imagine nonfiction moving images, without resorting to #storytelling. Of course, I would argue that most of the Video Data Bank collection represents that idea, but here are a few I’m currently watching: Julie Zando’s Let’s Play Prisoners (1988), Anne McGuire’s Joe DiMaggio 1,2,3 (1991), Dani Leventhal Restack’s Draft 9 (2003), and Dena DeCola and Karin Wandner’s five more minutes (2005).

EE: I could go on and on for hours, but off the top of my head, one piece I really love that I hadn’t seen until working at VDB is C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience), Part 1 (2007) by A.L. Steiner and robbinchilds, a kind of movement performance to the music of Kinski. I love this piece because it rides so many different lines of experimental video, music video, performance art, and dance film, and is also just really fun to watch. Another favorite is Psycho III The Musical (1985) by Mark Oates and Tom Rubnitz, a campy musical rendition of Hitchcock’s Psycho including hits like Loose Woman on the Loose, arguably the best song to ever get stuck in your head.

What do you get up to outside of the office?

ZV: About two years ago I entered the MA Visual and Critical Studies program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, so most of my spare time is spent reading and writing. The program often engages with intermedia and contemporary art practices, so I find there’s a very productive overlap between work life and scholarship.

EE: I’m also a video artist and curator, and right now I’m working hard on programming the 28th annual Onion City Experimental Film & Video Festival! The festival runs March 8th – 11th, 2018, and is a program of Chicago Filmmakers, a local not-for-profit media arts organization and cinema. I’m so excited to be working with them. I’m also the co-director of the Nightingale Cinema here in Chicago, as well as the assistant director of an online curatorial project called Video! Video! Zine. I also occasionally write for a website which features weekly cinema-happenings in Chicago called Cine-File (

Any final thoughts?

ZV: Our artists are the best! Also, not enough people realize that the VDB screening room is completely free and open to the public. Everybody, come visit us and watch some video!

EE: Working at VDB has been such a great experience. I love our crew, and our artists constantly amaze me!

Video Data Bank at the 47th International Film Festival Rotterdam


This month, Video Data Bank continues its longstanding collaboration with the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). The 47th edition of the Festival runs January 24th through February 4th, 2017, and VDB Director Abina Manning will be in attendance until January 28th. She can be contacted at Please join us for the following special events at the festival:

Originals: DINAMO Distributor’s Screening
Saturday, January 27th, 5:30 pm, KINO 4

VDB will collaborate with international colleagues in the Distribution Network of Artists’ Moving Image Organizations (DINAMO) to present the program Originals, a collaborative showcase of video art and experimental film. VDB’s contribution will be Sara Magenheimer‘s MICKRYS (2011), a video about two fictional characters, as in letters, and two fictional characters, as in anthropomorphised mice, falling in love. Sara Magenheimer will be in attendance at Saturday’s screening.


Black & White: DINAMO Distributor’s Screening
Sunday, January 28th, 4:45 pm, KINO 4

VDB will also collaborate with DINAMO colleagues to present the program Black & White. Sadie Benning‘s Living Inside will screen alongside other experimental media works.


Perspectives: Pan-African Cinema Today
Thursday, January 25th, 8:00pm, KINO 4
Friday, January 26th, 12:00pm, KINO 3
Friday, January 26th, 5:30pm, Cinerama 5
Sunday, January 28th, 12.00pm, KINO 3

A multifaceted contemporary African and African-diaspora cinema with special focus on the history of the Pan-African movement as captured in film, featuring Ephraim Asili‘s Fluid Frontiers (2017). The fifth and final film in an ongoing series of films exploring Asili’s personal relationship to the African Diaspora. Shot along the Detroit River, it explores the relationship between concepts of resistance and liberation exemplified by the Underground Railroad, Broadside Press, and artworks of local Detroit Artists.


Bright Future: Memory Palaces
Thursday, January 25th, 8:00pm, KINO 4
Friday, January 26th, 12.00pm, KINO 3

Memories make us who we are. These filmmakers open up perspectives that allow us to come to terms with our memories, hold on to them or bring them back to life. Sky Hopinka‘s Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary (2017) takes inspiration from the ideas of the architect Kengo Kuma, who suggests looking at everything as “interconnected and intertwined”, the filmmaker weaves connections to the Chinookan people who inhabited the land around Portland with audio tapes of one of the last speakers of chinuk wawa, the Chinookan creole.


Bright Future: Commodity Culture
Saturday, January 27th, 2:00pm, Cinerama 2
Sunday, January 28th, 1.45pm, KINO 4

Commodification is the transformation of goods, services, ideas and people into objects of trade. Some things ought not to be treated as commodities – education, information, data, knowledge and art. Deception emerges as the central theme in Sara Magenheimer’s video Art and Theft (2017) that grapples with the constructed nature of storytelling. As a deer raids a house, a playful collage of images on theft taken from paintings, the internet and film history distract us from the maliciousness of the act of stealing.


Bright Future: Sunstone, Louis Henderson and Filipa César
Saturday, January 27th, 5.00pm, Cinerama 2
Monday, January 29th, 3.00pm, KINO 3

Incorporating 16mm celluloid images, digital desktop captures and 3D CGI, Sunstone explores how optical technologies of military and colonial design – from lighthouse Fresnel lenses to global satellite navigation systems – both inform and are informed by Western models of knowledge.