Maya's Haiti footage (was: Frameworker in the news)

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Feb 24 2010 - 16:34:08 PST

> Perhaps this can be a "teachable moment" about the realities of the
> economics of film preservation.

I do not mean this sarcastically or rhetorically: what are the
realities of the economics of film preservation to which you refer?

I'm certainly no expert on the political economy here, but intuitively
I don't see much connection between preservation of Deren's footage
and response to the Haitian tragedy. Aren't the problems in Haiti now
so profound that they can only be adequately addressed at a systemic
structural level? Doesn't the question of whether any person's dollars
go here or there inherently reproduce right-wing ideologies that
reduce everything to individualism in order to absolve nations and
transnational capital of responsibility, and any sort of democratic
regulation that would bind those powers in any way to such
responsibilities? Can the aftermath of the earthquake be separated
from the larger web of economic inequalities that entrap the Haitis of
the world any more than what happened in the Lower Ninth Ward after
Katrina be separated from the nature of institutional racism? I might
guess that the entire budget spent worldwide on film preservation
would be barely a drop in the bucket of what would be required to
address the institutional impoverishment of just one small country. So
if we're left with symbolic politics, does anybody in a position of
actual power really give a hoot about what does or doesn't happen to
some film footage in the vaults at Anthology, which is hardly much of
a locus of either status or money as far as the art world is concerned?

It also strikes me that refering to Deren's work as "a 60 year old
set of unedited footage" simply begs the question that David Baker is
trying to argue, rather than engaging that argument. Baker has
proposed 1) Deren intended the footage to remain unedited, to
constitute a single work that integrated (or collapsed) art and
anthropology, 2) that available reports from people who have actually
seen the footage in toto supports this point of view (more or less
mooting the question of Deren's intent), 3) the work has an enduring
cultural and historical significance that calls for it to be made
publicly available, yet it languishes not only unseen but subject to
deterioration from the ravages of time.

I'm not really meaning to take sides here (not that anyone would care
what I think). It's just seems to me that there's a deeper and more
significant debate that ought to be going on. Maybe such a debate is
happening elsewhere, and/or it's futile to ask for anything like that
on an email list. But I figure it doesn't hurt to ask.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.