Anthony Ramos: Screening & Artist TalkApril 22, 6:30pm at Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)
Balloon Nose Blow-Up (1972), Anthony Ramos
Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is pleased to present a special evening with pioneering performance and media artist Anthony Ramos,
who will screen his rarely seen, recently preserved video works from
the early 1970s. Ramos' powerful video works join art with activism, the
political with the conceptual, to create incisive cultural critiques.
Selections from Ramos' earliest performance actions and video essays,
which merge first-person narratives and mass media imagery to confront
issues of race and identity, will be shown. The evening will also
include the first New York screening of Black & White (1975), an early two-channel video piece, and excerpts from never-before-seen works, including Decent Men (1973-2013), Ramos' extended monologue on his eighteen-month prison term for resisting the draft during the Vietnam War.
EAI is undertaking a major initiative to preserve Ramos' groundbreaking yet under-recognized early video works. The evening will include a conversation with the artist and a Q & A with the audience.
Anthony Ramos was among the earliest video artists to use the medium as a
tool for mass media critiques and cultural documentation, and to
investigate the politics of race in America. A graduate assistant of
Allan Kaprow who performed in Kaprow's Happenings in the late 1960s,
Ramos first began using video as a student at the California Institute
of the Arts in the early 1970s. In his earliest black-and-white video
pieces, including the 1972 Balloon Nose Blow-Up, Plastic Bag Tie-Up and Water Plastic Bag,
Ramos engages in direct performances for the camera that foreground
physical endurance and politically-charged, often harrowing actions.
(During this time he also participated in undocumented Happenings with
artists Lowell Darling and Joe Ray.) The early two-channel piece Black & White (1975), performed with Ann Ramos, investigates cultural and racial identities.
Ramos' groundbreaking works of the late 1970s merge personal narrative, performance, and mass media critique. Ramos' most well known video, About Media (1977), is a pointed deconstruction of television news. Appropriating and upending a television interview about President Carter's amnesty for Vietnam War draft resisters, he exposes the artifice of mass media news reporting. Nor Was It All By Any Means (1978) is a rarely seen video collage/essay in which he challenges mass cultural representations of African-American and African identities.
In 2013, Ramos, who produced and edited several of his early video pieces at EAI in the early 1970s, returned to EAI to revisit an unfinished work that he had begun in the 1970s. Built around an extraordinary extended monologue on his experiences in federal prison, the piece is a potent collage of performance and mass media images. Forty years after beginning the piece, Ramos recorded and edited a new performance element at EAI, integrating it into the now-completed Decent Men (1973-2013).
Ramos' remarkable video works—and his parallel remarkable biography—map an artistic and cultural topography that spans New York, California, Cape Verde, Paris, and multiple points across the globe.
Anthony Ramos was born in 1944 in Providence, Rhode Island, and lives in the South of France. He studied painting at Southern Illinois University and received an M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts, where he was graduate assistant to Allan Kaprow. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, and an Aspen Fellowship from the Aspen Institute, among other awards. In the 1970s Ramos was a video consultant for the United Nations and the National Council of Churches. He lived in Paris in the 1980s, where he was a Professor at the American Center and oversaw the first television cabling of Paris. During the 1970s and 1980s, Ramos traveled widely in Europe, Africa, China and the Middle East. He recorded video during the end of Portugal's colonial rule of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, in Teheran during the 1980 hostage crisis, and in Beijing just prior to the Tiananmen Square massacre. He taught at Rhode Island School of Design, New York University, and the University of California at San Diego, among others. In the late 1980s he turned to painting as his primary medium. He has exhibited his paintings at numerous international venues, including the American Jazz Museum and Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, Kansas City; Biennale de Dakur, Senegal; and Galerie du Dragon, Paris, among others.
Ramos' video works have been shown internationally, including at the Pasadena Art Museum, California (1973); Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1974); Whitney Museum of American Art (1975) and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1992), among others. Recent screenings and exhibitions of Ramos' early video work include Light Industry in New York (2010); Circa 1971: Early Video & Film from the EAI Archive at Dia: Beacon (2011-2012); The Embodied Vision: Performance for the Camera at the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado in Lisbon (2014); Anthony Ramos: Vidéo et après at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2014), and Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York (2015).
EAI is one of the world's leading resources for moving image art. Founded in 1971, EAI is a New York-based nonprofit organization that fosters the creation, exhibition, distribution, and preservation of video and media art. EAI holds a major collection of over 3,500 new and historical media artworks, from groundbreaking early video by pioneering figures of the 1960s to new digital projects by today's emerging artists. EAI works closely with artists, museums, schools and other venues worldwide to preserve and provide access to this significant archive. EAI also presents public programs such as artists' talks, exhibitions and panels; extensive digital resources; viewing access; technical facilities, and educational services. EAI's Online Catalogue is a comprehensive resource on the artists and works in the EAI collection, and features expansive materials on media art's histories and current practices: www.eai.org
Electronic Arts Intermix
535 West 22nd Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10011
t (212) 337-0680
f (212) 337-0679
This program is
supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of
Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. This program is
also funded by New York State Council on the Arts? Electronic Media and
Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by The ARTS Council
of the Southern Finger Lakes (www.NYSCA.org www.eARTS.org). EAI
receives program support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual
With special thanks to Bill Seery and Mercer Media.