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This collection of a decade of boxes of sweets was saved by Harley J. Spiller, Deputy Director of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc. It started when Franklin Furnace moved to its second headquarters at 45 John Street in Manhattan’s Fi-Di in 1999 (before the financial district was christened FiDi by eager realtors).  When later that year fellow staffer Tiffany Ludwig returned from vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina carrying a gift of a pound of salt water taffy for the office, the box seemed too cool to discard. Even though the candies were gone, Spiller, as is his wont, saved it.  It was, after all “Full of Sea Breeze and Sunshine.”

Salt Water Taffy became a traditional gift for staff returning from vacation and Tiffany and Rachel B. Knowles, intern cum staffer, brought several more over the years, including White Marlin brand from Chincoteague (with its label pasted over the original location), one that memorializes NC lighthouses at Cape Lookout, Oak Island, Currituck, Bodie …
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Pseudo Studio Walk by Halona Hilbertz

by Clara Perlmutter Hilbertz, Halona - Pseudo Studio Walk from Franklin Furnace on Vimeo. Not gonna lie, although I was fascinated by “Pseudo Studio Walk” by Halona Hilbertz as soon as I saw that it was a 48 minute video of a woman walking around an empty studio, I was also somewhat dreading actually watching it. Because it was a 48 minute video of a woman walking around an empty studio. However, the description of the performance is what sold me, calling it a “a deceptively simple performance dealing with virtual and actual space”. Like that woman in the huge mistake of a movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I want to know and understand everything, so, naturally, the phrase “deceptively simple” read as some type of challenge to me. Would I be able to understand the performance? Would I learn anything? I cleared my schedule (that is a joke, it is the summer before I go to college… we all know I’m not doing much of anything), and hunkered down in front of my co…

Unearthing the Archives: "Extreme Women" by Iris Rose

Written by Clara Perlmutter

Extreme Women by Iris Rose from Franklin Furnace on Vimeo.

When I saw “Extreme Women” by Iris Rose on Franklin Furnace’s Vimeo, I was immediately drawn in by the title. In a way, I almost identified with the title. I have always been a pretty dramatic woman, and extreme is a synonym for dramatic, no? As I began watching the video, I found that the title was quite descriptive. However, the more I have come to understand the video, the less I have identified with the title.

The writing on screen at the start of the video informed me that the video was comprised of clips of a performance, but the first time I watched the video, I missed the words that flashed in the bottom right corner for the first performance that told me who Rose was portraying. I was somewhat startled when piano music began playing, and a woman in all black began shouting. I didn’t understand what was going on until I heard the line, “God! Politics! The future of Germany!” and began to rea…

Unearthing the Archives: "Twentieth Century Fox" by Nora York

Written by Clara Perlmutter

Nora York from Franklin Furnace on Vimeo.

While I was very excited by the idea of going through the videos of avant-garde performance art on Franklin Furnace’s Vimeo, I was also equally as nervous. Though I am not all that familiar with avant-garde art, I do have a basic understanding of what “avant-garde” means, which was what was instilling so much fear in me. I was worried that the content I would be watching would soar way over my head. Without any context, would I be able to recognize why something was groundbreaking? Would I get it? I pushed these thoughts aside and began watching videos. I soon found that my anxiety had been kind of pointless - as anxiety usually is - because the majority of the art did a great job at speaking for itself.

The first video I saw that really spoke to me was entitled, just simply, “Nora York”. I generally do judge books - metaphorically speaking, and literally - by their covers, and this is perhaps one of my largest c…

Hidden Signals: Excavating buried treasure in the Franklin Furnace Archive

The funny thing about videotapes is that no matter what the labels say, you still can never be completely sure of what you might find when you pop it into the deck (see Gearoid Dolan's Franklin Furnace "proposal" tape i.e. 80s porno "The Doorman Always Comes Twice"). As a student of Moving Image Archiving and Preservation at New York University, currently interning at Franklin Furnace and mining their moving image database, I've seen my fair share formats and descriptive information. Franklin Furnace Archives currently preserves and catalogues some 700+ videos which vary from event documentation, artist proposals, and random news clips and documentaries pertaining to the downtown performance scene and particularly the Art Wars of the early 1990s. While I considered myself to be relatively well-versed on performance art, particularly of the 1970s, I have come across a number of gems which have taken me completely by surprise, particularly works that were ei…