Anthology Film Archives


August 11 – August 18

This screening program is presented in conjunction with the exhibition “THINGS: A Queer Legacy of Graphic Art and Play,” taking place this summer at Participant Inc, which will showcase objects made by artists best known for their work in journalism and the moving image. Drafted during moments of leisure and distributed largely through social means, the paintings, drawings, and printed matter collected in THINGS harness the quiet radicality of their activist origins. Anthology’s film series will shed light on the under-represented cinematic works crafted by these queer luminaries, from the oversexed 16mm docu-fantasias of Curt McDowell, to the candy-hued early video art of Tom Rubnitz, through work made within the radical AIDS activist communities of Chicago-based publisher Robert Ford, and the contemporary artists sustaining these vanguard visions by creating forbidden zones and alarmingly personal works. The years and geographies covered by the three artists at the core of THINGS span the queer playland ethos of Gay Liberation in San Francisco of the 1970s into the experimental performance and nightlife cultures of the East Village in the 1980s, landing in the HIV/AIDS activist climates of underground publishing in 1990s Chicago. Through hyper-real self portraiture, utopian world making, and scene-charting zine cultures, the materials and film works assembled in THINGS evince the intensely vital and political potential for craft to reflect the world as it appears or is perceived at immensely personal moments of artistic reflection.

Curated by Bradford Nordeen, and co-presented by Participant Inc (, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, and Visual AIDS. Special thanks to 2nd floor projects, Melinda McDowell, the Rubnitz/Roffe Family, Lia Gangitano, George William Price, Stephen Winter, Ann Magnuson, KP Pepe, Shannon Michael Cane, Suzy Halajian, Nathan Lee, and Nelson Santos.

The THINGS film series is sponsored by Video Data Bank (

Founded at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 1976 at the inception of the media arts movement, Video Data Bank (VDB) is a leading resource in the United States for video by and about contemporary artists. Now celebrating its 40th anniversary year, the VDB Collection includes the work of more than 600 artists and 6,000 video art titles that describe the development of video as an art form originating in the late 1960's and continuing to the present. Featured artists include early video pioneers such as Ilene Segalove, Peer Bode, and Martha Rosler, to the latest works by contemporary artists including Rosa Barba, Sadie Benning, and Paul Chan.

VDB makes its collection available to museums, galleries, educational institutions, libraries, cultural institutions and other exhibitors through a national and international distribution service. VDB works to foster a deeper understanding of video art and artists, and to broaden access and exposure to media art histories through its programs and activities. These include maintaining both analog and digital archives, preservation of historically important video art works, the commissioning of essays and texts that contextualize artists' work, the publication of curated programs and artists' monographs, and an extensive range of public programs.

For details of the Curt McDowell component of the series, which takes the form of an extensive retrospective, click here.

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