Ben Olin: Coleen Fitzgibbon and Colab TV – Notes and Citations

"The artists' group "Collaborative Projects Incorporated" (Colab) was formed in 1977 and comprised roughly thirty to forty artists—a loosely connected group of friends and acquaintances living in lower Manhattan."
[1] Colab included artists such as Kiki Smith, Jenny Holzer, Tom Otterness, Walter Robinson, James Nares, Peter Fend, John and Charlie Ahearn, and Scott and Beth B. For an overview of Colab, see Max Schumann (ed.) A Book About Colab (and Related Activities) (New York: Printed Matter, 2016); David Eugene Little, "Colab Takes a Piece, History Takes It Back: Collectivity and New York Alternative Spaces." Art Journal, vol. 66, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 61-74; Alan W. Moore, 'Punk Art: No Wave & Colab', in Art Gangs: Protest and Counterculture in New York City (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2011): 80-109. See also:;

"While Colab's art projects have recently begun to receive long overdue critical recognition, their cable-TV shows have remained overlooked, largely evading broader histories of downtown screen culture."
[2] Recent Colab retrospectives include: The Times Square Show Revisited, Hunter College Art Galleries, curated by Shawna Cooper and Karli Wurzelbacher (September 14 – December 8, 2012); The Real Estate Show, a Colab exhibition originally held in 1980 in a squatted city-owned building on Delancey Street (and subsequently shuttered by the NYPD), was restaged in 2014 at four New York City galleries: James Fuentes Gallery, Cuchifritos, ABC No Rio, and The Lodge Gallery; A. More Store, a Colab retrospective exhibited in the summer of 2016 at Printed Matter in New York; Colab TV Video Excerpts, a program of excerpts from Colab TV shows compiled by Coleen Fitzgibbon and Andrea Callard, which screened at the Film-Makers Cooperative and the New Museum in 2013. A DVD containing highlights from Colab TV shows is currently available for purchase at: 

"Coleen Fitzgibbon, a filmmaker and one of the founding members of Colab, played a key role in the inception of Colab's TV shows."
[3] On Fitzgibbon's individual film work, see "Coleen Fitzgibbon by P. Adams Sitney," BOMB 123, Spring 2013. Available online at:

"Liza used to publish the art magazine Avalanche with Willoughby Sharp, and later went on to do her own cable show called Communications Update."
[4] For additional information on Communications Update, see: See also Bear's overview of New York public access shows, including All Color News, in the 1983 article, "All Aboard! A Survey of Incentives and Impediments to Public Channel Usage by New York Artists and Fellow Travelers," Liza Bear, The Independent: Film & Video Monthly (March 1983): 11-15.

"Videos of Potato Wolf were screened at the Mudd Club."
[5] Colab member Alan Moore recalled Potato Wolf screening events being hosted at the popular downtown nightspot Mudd Club, and also in artists' lofts. Moore regarded Potato Wolf video nights as part of a long-established tradition of independent film screenings: "We were producing with a new medium, but Potato Wolf functions came out of the tradition of artists' loft screenings in the 1970s. They were parties essentially – we'd show the tapes, a band would play, and we'd all drink a lot of beer!" Alan Moore. Personal correspondence, April 8, 2013.

"People would bring in musicians who would be playing, sometimes they'd be mic'd. On some later episodes of Potato Wolf they were playing around with sound equipment."
[6] Moore recalled an episode of Potato Wolf on which the artist Terry Mohre—a video and sound artist then working at the Buffalo Media Center—plugged an analogue synthesizer into the mixing board to manipulate the video image. As he explained: "Audio and image signals are interchangeable, so you can take the analogue audio signal and get an image out of it, and you can also do the reverse. Terry plugged the synth directly into the board and the staff just went crazy – they thought that their machinery was being destroyed!" Alan Moore. Personal correspondence, April 8, 2013.

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