Ant Farm Documentary at SF MoMA

Documentarians Elizabeth Federic and Laura Harrison's 2008 video about Ant Farm, the merry band of architects, video artists, nomads and pranksters of the late 60s and early 70s, shows at San Francisco MoMA.
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A still from Ant Farm's television critique "Media Burn."

I stopped into SF MoMA on Friday to check out Ant Farm: Early Underground Adventures with Space, Land and Time a 30 minute documentary with interviews with the main farmers—Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez, Doug Michels and Roger Dainton—and part of the museum’s current Art of Participation show.  The video was a decent primer on Ant Farm’s career, particularly their inflatable structures, though it was better at capturing their antic spirit than giving a proper explication of their work. The best moment, by far, was when a French woman, one of the many architectural talking heads in the video (Jennifer Seigal and Roman Coppola were others), described how all sorts of men tried to make love with her in inflatable structures back in the heady 70s. And how she rather liked it herself.

In taking up Ant Farm as their subject, Federic and Harrison have lucked out in one major way. As early adopters of the Sony Portapak, the first consumer-oriented video camera, Ant Farm documented their work and play to a considerable degree. Their video art including pieces like "Media Burn" which famously shows a supped-up Cadillac crashing through a wall of flaming televisions and "The Eternal Frame" which reenacts the JFK assassination, are often better known than their inflatable architecture. Federic and Harrison’s shaky camera work, shot on digital video it appears, is entirely reminiscent of the footage Ant Farm shot in its 70s heyday, a visual nod to their subjects.

The video runs each day at 1:30 PM except Wednesdays on the second floor of the San Francisco MoMA in the Koret Auditorium.


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