Sara Chapman | BAVC

Sara Chapman

Success Story
October 8, 2015
General BAVC

Media Burn Archive is a nonprofit archive in Chicago dedicated to videotapes produced by artists, activists and community groups. We have enthusiastically participated in BAVC’s Preservation Access Program since it began in 2013. BAVC is one of only a few organizations in the country with the skills and equipment to successfully transfer obsolete formats like ½” reel-to-reel videotape.

The program has made it affordable for us to transfer all of the ½” reel-to-reel videotapes in our collection, as well as to work with other artists and activists whose tapes were languishing in basements, attics and closets. This has included early labor videos shot by Kartemquin Films, Chicago storefront theater productions shot by Anda Korsts, outtakes from 1972 political convention coverage by TVTV, social and political interventions by Communications for Change, oral histories focused on life in early 20th century America, as well as many playful documentary experiments shot by individuals during the guerrilla television era.

It’s been really rewarding to be able to work with artists and help them recover 40-year-old tapes that they thought they’d never see again. More broadly, this project is helping to change what we know about the early video era by making hundreds of unseen videos available to scholars and the general public for the first time ever.

Selected projects

Media Burn Lesbian Panel footage

Footage of The Lesbian Panel at the Socialist-Feminist Conference, July 1975 at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Media Burn Charles Velsek footage
Shot for Communications for Change's Documenting Social History: Chicago's Elderly Speak oral history series. Charles Velsek, a member of the IWW, talks about his experiences as a radical union member in the 1920s and throughout the Great Depression.

Media Burn Communications for Change

Several examples of "social and political intervention" work done by Communications for Change that was aided by the use of video. Most actions concern the fight for adequate housing in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago.