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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