The Archive Project is an ongoing initiative to preserve and modernize The Kitchen's extensive archival collection of historic audio and videotapes, dating back to 1972. It contains early and/or seminal work by some of today’s most influential artists including John Cage, Laurie Anderson, Lucinda Childs, Bill T. Jones, Philip Glass, Christian Marclay, Robert Longo, Pauline Oliveros, Meredith Monk, David Byrne and The Talking Heads, among many others.
In the short term, The Kitchen's goal is to catalogue the collection and restore tapes that are most at risk of deterioration, as well as those of performances that will clearly be of interest to the field. The long-term aim is to create a working archive for experimental art - to keep history alive; promote performance as a field with a history and clear pattern of development; and provide interesting, integrated ways in which artists and audiences can learn about the work of their peers and predecessors.
As The Kitchen integrates archival material into its current programming and works toward making archival materials accessible on the internet, it is creating a greater context for experimental and collaborative performance vis-à-vis traditional work and other performing art disciplines. This is important to the development of both contemporary artists and audiences, and will position the archive as a useful tool and vital programming model for other presenters and performance companies.
Spearheaded by Advisory Board member and former Kitchen Archivist, Stephen Vitiello, we have already digitally remastered over 500 of The Kitchen's approximately 3,600 videotapes dating back to the early 1970s as well as over 500 audio tapes, for which we received special funds from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences to remaster and create a set of archival CD releases. The audio project has already received support from such artists as Philip Glass, Pauline Oliveros, Sonic Youth, Charlemagne Palestine, and Frederic Rzewski to remaster their early works. There are currently four CDs available: New Music, New York 1979; Steve Reich Live 1977; Amplified: New Music Meets Rock, 1981-1986; and Composers Inside Electronics. We are also in the process of making special video compilations from the video archives, which will be distributed to universities, museums, and festivals–anywhere there is interest in the history of contemporary performance.
The Archive Project is an urgent and essential undertaking that will safeguard an important legacy for the performing arts field.