Russell: Roadkill on memory lane
photo: Drew Tillman

Late last month, Mark Russell removed the last souvenirs from his cramped office at P.S.122; the board of directors there is replacing him with two people, newly appointed executive director Anne Dennin and an artistic director to be named in the fall. When Charles Dennis, one of the experimental art space's founding members and a veteran chronicler of the downtown scene, began shooting his hour-long tribute in 2000, he could not have imagined this particular outcome, but Russell's exit renders the film all the more timely and poignant.

Dennis gathered 10 performers whose careers burgeoned in the former public-school auditorium on East 9th Street, which was taken over, unheated, by a cadre of artists in 1980; they saw themselves, in the heyday of punk, as the dance equivalent of "a three-chord rock band." Their recollections, a montage of Dona Ann McAdams's wonderful black-and-white photos, testimony by critics Deborah Jowitt and Jennifer Dunning and presenter Joe Melillo, and video of a "homecoming concert" performed in 2000 are threaded together, documenting the history of an endangered species.

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