Collective Memory

Nostalgia fever continues as the experimental-film community looks back at its 'lost generation.' But what's next?

Now that the Collective's archives have been taken on by Anthology, the institution has absorbed its former upstart in more ways than one. "I look at these calendars, and what they're showing could be Anthology today," says archivist Andrew Lampert, an organizer of the tribute—referring not just to some of the same names (once new, now not), but to a general philosophy of eclecticism that hasn't always been the case at Anthology. In order to evoke that spirit, Anthology and Orchard will screen films by both well-known and obscure Collectivites (Shatavsky's Bedtime Story, for example, a cutout animated psychodrama that well deserves to be spliced back into the consciousness). In order to extend the philosophy of "living cinema," they're also hosting numerous programs of new works: some by still-working Collective mainstays, others by filmmakers too young to have ever attended. Old publications and ephemera will be on display at the gallery, but the real historical data will likely come from the mouths of the filmmakers themselves, most grayer but far from retired.

Hopefully, the celebration will help unshoulder a particularly sticky chip: Many Collective alums have taken to calling themselves a "Lost Generation," still overshadowed by the '60s. "I feel the work of the '80s will appear as a golden age of experimental cinema, rivaling the work of Brakhage, Frampton, Mekas," says one, filmmaker Abigail Child. "That's why this show is particularly important, and should only be a beginning." She needn't worry: With an increasing amount of avant-garde history behind us, the archival urge is only bound to grow.

A Collective audience or Apple's 1984 ad?
Anthology Film Archives
A Collective audience or Apple's 1984 ad?

"On Collective for Living Cinema" runs at Anthology Film Archives (212-505-5181) from April 6 through 8 and at the Orchard Street Gallery (212-219-1061) through April 29.

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