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The Kitchen Archive, ca. 1971–1999


Poster promoting the Tenth Anniversary Benefit for The Kitchen / Longo
 
The archive of New York City's leading alternative art space provides the foremost record of the intersections of avant-garde performance, music, dance, and video from the 1970s through the 1990s. Containing more than 6,000 video and audiotapes documenting performances and events at The Kitchen, the collection also includes more than 130 linear feet of photographs and archival materials. The archive is extraordinary not only for the breadth of artists represented but also because of the great depth of material related to some of the most significant artists of this era, including Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, and Bill T. Jones.

Founded in 1971 as an artist collective by pioneering video artists Steina and Woody Vasulka, The Kitchen was initially located in the unused kitchen of the former Mercer Arts Center in Greenwich Village, serving as a response to the dearth of venues for new media. The Kitchen became a staging ground for experimental cross-disciplinary endeavors that were outside of what most other arts venues could provide.

Near-daily programming included groundbreaking musical performances by Tony Conrad, Brian Eno, Jon Gibson, and the New York Dolls; poetry readings; seminars on art and technology; weekly open video screenings; video art festivals featuring the work of Charlotte Moorman, Nam June Paik, and Stan Vanderbeek; and landmark exhibitions of visual artists such as the first solo show of Robert Mapplethorpe and the first presentation of Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills.

A highlight of the collection is a series of rare, stylistically diverse posters designed by significant artists such as Barbara Kruger, Sol LeWitt, Robert Longo, and Kiki Smith that were originally pasted up around town as The Kitchen's primary means of event advertising.

Largely unavailable to scholars until now, The Kitchen Archive presents a major research opportunity on a groundbreaking collection. It also meshes seamlessly with the Research Institute's other postwar archives, including those of Eleanor Antin, John Cage, Allan Kaprow, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Yvonne Rainer, as well as the Institute's extensive Fluxus collections, which offer deep resources about the intermingling of performance art and experimental music in the 1960s and 1970s.