Thirty-Four Years after the pioneering creation of the Video Lounge, which merged art and video art with the punk club scene in New York, Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong have launched GoNightclubbing, an installation at NYU, which pays tribute to the infamous Danceteria’s Video Lounge, created in 1980. Not only was this a first for the rise of the VJ but it was also the scene that launched the careers of Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf.
The re-imagined Video Lounge installation celebrates Ivers and Armstrong’s work at the iconic Danceteria nightclub, where they showcased their work at the height of the punk era. The Video Lounge installation derives from Ivers’ and Armstrong’s GoNightclubbing Archive, part of the Fales Downtown Collection. Acquired by Fales Library in 2013. The Archive consists of videos of 82 bands shot at 115 musical performances, 20+ interviews, photographs, video art, early music videos, posters, flyers, and video DJ sampler reels, all restored digitally and integrated with Ivers and Armstrong’s database of dates, locations, band lineups, set lists and other ephemera. The re-imagined GoNightclubbing Video Lounge will be a feature of “Punk Turns Forty,” a conference being held at NYU and Cooper Union in downtown Manhattan in April 2014.
“Pat and Emily documented New York’s punk rock scene better than anyone,” said Marvin J. Taylor, Head of Fales Library and Special Collections. “Their videos are of the best quality and the best bands. Danceteria was more than just a club, it was a gathering place for artists of all stripes in the exploding downtown scene. Recreating the Video Lounge at the Fales Library makes a statement about embodied archival practice, something we’re committed to with the Downtown Collection.”
In 1980, Ivers and Armstrong were hired to take over an entire floor of the multi-level Danceteria nightclub, where they were among the earliest people to video an ongoing feature in a nightclub context, incorporating a series of kitschy suburban living rooms, in which they narrowcast their own original archive of music performance, simulcast live band performances, and showcased the work of downtown artists including Keith Haring and John Sex.
“Our original Video Lounge placed viewers in the familiar coziness of a living room setting, then challenged them with unfamiliar, non-commercial content,” said Ivers. “As VJs, our programming was a mix of new music performances we had shot, a real departure from the popular sounds of disco which dominated the club scene at the time.”
‘We mixed in the work of downtown artists who had just begun exploring video as a form, as well as a potpourri of found footage that deconstructed accepted media iconography in an ironic way,” continued Armstrong. “The Video Lounge was much like today’s YouTube, with its mix of seemingly random video clips that somehow make sense to the modern media sensibility. Revisiting the Gonightclubbing Video Lounge in 2014 puts today’s viewers back on the sofas to watch content, sometimes with strangers, but in a public setting, disconnected from the singularity of their computers.”
The programming included early music videos and Ivers and Armstrong’s footage of live performances by such bands as the Dead Boys, Iggy Pop and Richard Hell, as well as found footage, movie trailers and vintage commercials. In addition to Keith Haring and John Sex, other artists, including David Wojnarowicz, Frank Hennenlotter, Paul Dougherty, Kenny Scharf, and Robin Schanzenbach, would bring their work to share with the VJs.
The GoNightclubbing Video Lounge opens 20 March -30 May,2014, third floor, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, (at LaGuardia Place) New York University’s Fales Library