If anybody has any lingering doubts about the happening vs. happened status of experimental filmmaking, I believe P.S. 1 (and/or MoMA) is un-fogging the view: they’re kicking out the Film-makers’ Cooperative. They’re handing the space (a floor in a building in TriBeCa owned by legendary quasi-museum and, more recently, MoMA arm, P.S. 1) over to Alanna Heiss, who founded P.S. 1 and ran it for many years, and who, incidentally, also was given the boot after P.S. 1 merged with MoMA, so she can set up headquarters for an internet radio station. Alanna Heiss is a pioneering figure for alternative-space exhibitors, who created the top-tier version of the alternative-space show–or maybe more correctly, the big-ass art hipster party spectacle (see Charlie Rose’s 2002 interview at about 13:00). Back in the day, it was where you’d see some of the most enduringly with-it artists, and it was entirely Heiss’s baby. John Baldessari said last year, in the NY Magazine article about her rather coerced retirement, “She is P.S. 1 and P.S. 1 is her.” While partnered with MoMA now, P.S. 1 itself is not a space with a collection, so in one way it’s no surprise that they’d prefer to foster publicity over preservation (especially considering it’s for the cause of its former visionary-boss)…but damn. That film collection is special. Heiss told NYT, “When it moves, it should move very carefully.” Anybody feel a draft in here?
This is a tough headspace to navigate. I’m really in awe of Heiss’s achievement (and a bit disappointed it wound up being absorbed into MoMA, which I suspect had more to do with P.S. 1’s having been on the cutting edge than its being on the cutting edge today), and I’m also in awe of the Film Co-op‘s experimental filmmakers, like Brakhage and Deren, whose work consistently overflows with the energy and vitality that I’m sure P.S. 1 events also had in the space’s heyday.