Monday, November 14, 2022 at 7:30pm
Nancy Holt's Underscan + Bruce Pavlow's Survival House

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

Underscan, Nancy Holt, 1974, digital projection, 9 mins
Survival House, Bruce Pavlow, 1978, digital projection, 108 mins

An astonishing document from gay liberation’s first decade, virtually unseen for years, Bruce Pavlow’s Survival House presents a vivid chronicle of a queer group home in San Francisco, a place where people could find food, lodging, and help seeking work. The tape, shot on analog video in the spring and summer of 1977, is structured as a sequence of 24 brief vignettes. Some are profiles of individual residents, who speak candidly about their lives—we hear of a Midwestern childhood plagued by abuse in one episode, for instance, and a discussion of a woman’s future plans to transition in another. These scenes are interlaced with discussions of how the house is run, with funding coming from the residents themselves, who pool their resources and manage to feed dozens on a budget of $15 a day. Among its most profound sequences are those which simply record everyone hanging out—chatting about Tallulah Bankhead over dinner, friends doing each other’s makeup as Stevie Nicks croons softly in the background. This experiment in mutual aid may have been short lived (by the time Pavlow completed his work, the home had already closed due to financial difficulties), but its ambitions offer a radical vision of family which excites the political imagination of our own time.

Survival House is paired this evening with another work from the early years of video, as well as another domestic inventory, though of a rather different sort. “In Underscan,” wrote artist Nancy Holt, “time and the visual image are compressed. A series of photographs of my Aunt Ethel's home in New Bedford, MA had been videotaped, and re-videotaped while being underscanned. (The underscanning device is a structural framework particular only to video; it compresses the picture so that the edges can be seen precisely; it does away with the variation that occurs between monitors in the amount of the image which is visible.) Because of this underscanning process, each static photo image, as it appears, changes from regular to elongated to compressed or vice versa. Excerpts from letters from my aunt spanning 10 years are condensed into 8 minutes of my voice-over audio. Certain yearly occurrences repeat in an auditory rhythm, coinciding with the cycle of yearly changes.”

Followed by a conversation with Pavlow, Stephen Vider, and Matt Wolf.

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.