This retrospective celebrates the work of Carole Roussopoulos (1945-2009), a pioneer of activist media in France. Born in Switzerland, she was active for most of her career in Paris where, at the suggestion of Jean Genet, she purchased a Sony Portapak in 1970. Armed with this newly available tool, she joined the early wave of artists and activists who would seize on the technology’s radical potential for creating politically and artistically independent work, free of the demands of large crews or a dependence on established production and distribution channels. Documenting and giving voice to a wide range of social movements and underrepresented groups both in France and internationally, she and her comrades leaped into the fray, creating dozens of tapes, organizing forums and workshops, and forming organizations such as the collective Vidéo Out and, with Delphine Seyrig (a frequent collaborator) and Ioana Wieder, the Simone de Beauvoir Audiovisual Center, the first media institution devoted to women’s history.
To the extent that Roussopoulos’s work is known abroad, it is for her early tapes GENET TALKS ABOUT ANGELA DAVIS, LE F.H.A.R., and especially S.C.U.M. MANIFESTO, made with Seyrig and based on Valerie Solanas’s infamous text. But these are the tip of a very large and deep iceberg, most of it rarely if ever seen in the U.S. Over the course of three days and five programs, we will see a selection of films demonstrating how prolific and committed Roussopoulos was during her career, with tapes made between the early 1970s and the 2000s, and covering a broad spectrum of topics, from the feminist movement and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Basque culture and the lives of female oyster farmers in southwestern France. Organized with the cooperation of the Simone de Beauvoir Audiovisual Center, which continues to distribute and promote Roussopoulos’s work, the retrospective will represent a rare opportunity to celebrate a key figure in the history of progressive media.
This retrospective is presented alongside our series devoted to radical French video maker Nathalie Magnan. Both programs have been organized in conjunction with Festival Albertine 2017, an annual series of conversations produced by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Albertine Books that invites French and American authors, artists, scholars, and activists to explore current issues from French and American perspectives. Festival Albertine takes place at Albertine, at 972 Fifth Avenue. For more info, visit: www.albertine.com