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9 Evenings Film Preservation Project

Still from 9 Evenings

The photograph was taken from the screen of a television monitor during the editing of Öyvind Fahlström’s work, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, and shows characters Fahlström called Chinese Sparrows swinging from long swings attached to the ceiling of the Armory.

In 1996 E.A.T. began a film restoration project to edit more than 400 minutes of 16 mm  black-and-white and 35 mm color archival film footage and reel-to-reel tape recordings that Klüver had arranged to be shot and recorded in 1966 during the 9 Evenings performances. The film material had been used by Alfons Schilling in 1967 to make a short documentary on the 9 Evenings, and the material was cut into many pieces. Klüver invited Swedish filmmaker Barbro Schultz Lundestam to join the project, and they worked on a rented portable Steenbeck editing table to splice together the footage for each artists’ performance. This material was transferred to 1-inch video; and then they worked with video editor Ken Weissman at Tape House in New York to edit the material into video films that presented each artists’ original work as fully as possible, together with a documentary section of still photographs, engineers schematics, artists’ notes and new interviews with participants. Klüver, Martin and Lundestam conducted as many video interviews as possible with artists and engineers who had participated in 9 Evenings. Certain effects in Fahlström’s work were re-created for the film on his performance. Some of the technical elements for Rainer’s piece were recreated in miniature by Per Biorn for a better understanding of their operation and were filmed by Martin and Sorger for the final video films. Martin and Sorger later traveled around the US recording interviews with additional artists and engineers who were in involved in the original 9 Evenings performances.

The first film to be completed was Kisses Sweeter Than Wine by Öyvind Fahlström, which had its premiere at the Anthology Film Archives in September 1996. The second was Robert Rauschenberg’s Open Score, which had its premiere showing in conjunction with Rauschenberg's retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in September 1997. The films of John Cage's performance, Variations VII, was completed in 2008 and David Tudor’s Bandoneon! (a combine), in 2009. The latter three films were released on DVD by  E.A.T. in collaboration with Artpix, headed by Frederica Hunter and based in Houston, Texas.

Weissman, Klüver, and Martin finished the performance sections of all the 9 Evenings artists, for showing at the Whitney Museum in 2000. The full video films of the 9 Evenings performances of the final six participating artists have been completed by Barbro Schultz Lundestam and are in the E.A.T. archive. Showings of the films of all ten artists’  9 Evenings performances have taken place in Europe and New York.

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