Avant-Garde Media: The UbuWeb Collection

Fans of avant-garde art, take note. UbuWeb hosts a vast archive of online avant-garde media, and they’ve been doing it since 1996.  The site features a large mp3 sound archive, alongside an extensive film/video collection where you’ll find some vintage clips. Take these items for example:

  • Four American Composers: Philip Glass – Peter Greenaway’s documentary from 1983 takes you inside the work of John Cage, Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, & Robert Ashley. The clip here features the Glass segment.
  • Jorge Luis Borges: The Mirror Man – This 47 minute documentary focuses on Argentina’s beloved author. As UBU writes, the documentary is a bit of everything — “part biography, part literary criticism, part hero-worship, part book reading, and part psychology.”
  • La villa Santo Sospir – Jean Cocteau, the French poet, novelist and dramatist, also shot a movie or two. Here’s his 35-minute color film from 1952…
  • Scenes from Allen’s Last Three Days on Earth as a Spirit – A video diary of beat writer Allen Ginsberg’s final days before death, and the days following.
  • The Violence of the Image – Jean Baudrillard lectures at the European Graduate School.
  • Un Chant d’Amour – French writer Jean Genet’s only film from 1950. Because of its explicit (though artistically presented) homosexual content, the 26-minute movie was banned and disowned by Genet later in his life, says UBU.
  • Warhol’s Cinema – A Mirror for the Sixties – A 64-minute documentary on Andy Warhol’s cinema of the sixties, made in association with The Factory, MOMA and the Whitney Museum of Art.

This is just a quick sample of what UBU has to offer. You can dig deeper into their avant-garde media collection here. As you’ll see, the video quality can be a little uneven. But if you can’t get to a real arts cinema, then this is not a bad fallback resource.

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