The Vasulka Effect

by Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir
02.12.20 – 06.12.20

The grandparents of the YouTube generation? The artist couple Steina and Woody Vasulka were the pioneers of video art, later forgotten by the art world. This documentary shows them in their late days, without any money, but in full vigour of taking care of their video archive. The screening is a collaboration with Videokunstarkivet.

Click here to download our cinema program for October and November 2020.

Wednesday 02.12.20
Sunday 06.12.20

About the film

The Vasulka Effect is a documentary portraying the life and work of pioneers of video art Steina and Woody Vasulka. Their history with video dates back to the late 1960's when they lived and worked in New York. Some have called them the grandparents of the “YouTube generation”, others “grandparents of video art”, seemingly forgotten by the art world.

With humor and serenity, they are struggling with finances and how to leave their media archives to the world. We start to understand the major impact video had on art and society from the 60's until now, a period referred to as the second renaissance, where media art contributed to the decentralization of art and corporate media. With only a handful of allies we see them being rediscovered by art collectors and museums. The revolutionary nature of video and video art movement anticipated the decentralization of media and not so quiet revolution against censorship.

About the Vasulkas

Woody Vasulka (born Bohuslav Vašulka, 1937, Brno, Czechoslovakia) studied metallurgy and mechanics at the School of Industrial Engineering in Brno. In 1960 he settled in Prague to study television and film production at the Academy of Performing Arts, also writing poetry and producing short films.

Steina (born Steinunn Briem Bjarnadóttir, 1940, Reykjavík, Iceland) studied languages, violin and music theory at the conservatory in Prague.

The couple met in the early 1960s, married in 1964, and 1965 emigrated to New York where Steina worked as a freelance musician, and Woody edited industrial films at Harvey Lloyd Productions. In New York they began showing video art at the Whitney Museum and founded The Kitchen in 1971. Steina and Woody both became Guggenheim fellows: Steina in 1976, and Woody in 1979.

About the filmmaker

Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir is a filmmaker and activist born in Reykjavik, Iceland who has worked extensively in film and TV as a director and director of photography. She received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1989 and resided in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 15 years, working on documentary films such as Alive in Limbo (ITVS) which received Locarno Human Rights Special Mention and the Spirit Award from BIFF; Senorita Extraviada by Lourdes Portillo, which received a Special Documentary Jury Award at Sundance Film Festival and more.

Upon her return toIceland in 2003, Hrafnhildur has produced and directed many documentaries and TV programs. Her recent work includes a number of TV series, such as the eight-part Taste the North Atlantic, which is co-produced by Saga Film with Norwegian NRK about the food culture of the countries of the North Atlantic.

Hrafnhildur has dedicated much time to working on social and labor issues for filmmakers. She served as president of the gay alliance of Iceland, Samtökin ´78, for two years, with an additional year as vice president. As president of the filmmakers association FK since 2009, she directed its transformation into a labor union. She has also been chairman of the board of Nordisk Panorama alliance of shorts and documentary filmmakers based in Copenhagen and Malmö.

The Vasulka Effect
Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir
Iceland, Czech Republic
85 min
English, Icelandic and Czech with English subtitles