collections update: Karen Aqua

January 25th, 2012

Karen Aqua (1954-2011) started working in animation at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1970s, and spent much of her career based in Somerville making short films exploring the themes of ritual, journeys, transformation, and the human spirit, as well as regularly contributing animated segments to Sesame Street.  In addition, she taught at a number of local universities, and worked with elementary schools and community groups around New England and beyond teaching animation to children. 

still image from HEAVENLY BODIES

Upon her death from ovarion cancer in 2011, she left a large legacy of award-winning animated films.  This collection, consisting of over 300 film and video items, arrived at the Harvard Film Archive in 2011 and we’ve been working to process the collection since late last year.  For the film, this involves first testing each film for acid deterioration, next inspecting each reel on the film bench and rehousing into archival cans, sending the cans to our climate controlled storage facility, and finally cataloging each item in our local database as well as creating records for Harvard’s online public access database.  We hope to have the collection fully processed by the end of February, with the finding aid appearing in OASIS not long after.  Stay tuned!

an animation test reel from VIS-A-VIS, on the bench ready to be inspected

A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

January 18th, 2012

I’m excited to share the news that The Criterion Collection will be releasing a long-awaited collection of Hollis Frampton’s films in April:  A Hollis Frampton Odyssey.  In addition to all 24 of Frampton’s films, the set also includes some lovely special features.  Among them are audio excerpts of Frampton discussing his work and his performance piece A Lecture, recorded in 1968 with the voice of artist Michael Snow, both from the HFA’s Hollis Frampton Collection.

We’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of our copy in a few months!

We’ve been working on a number of great collections from local filmmakers here at the conservation center in the past few months.  Today I’ll tell you about one in particular:  Aldo Tambellini. 

scan from Aldo Tambellini's BLACKOUT (1966)


The films of Aldo Tambellini represent only a small portion of his creative output.  He is also a sculptor, poet, painter, and video artist who has been creating since the 1960s.  Back in 2010 the Harvard Film Archive presented The Black Films of Aldo Tambellini in our cinematheque and in January 2012 Aldo was the focus of a six program retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which included many unseen or rarely-seen works.  In preparation for his most recent show, we worked with Aldo, his partner Anna, and Pia Bolognesi, University of Pisa, and Giulio Bursi, IULM, Milan, both film scholars and curators, to unearth and identify films from Aldo’s archive, many of which had no titles and existed in many varying versions.  A number of the films screening in the retrospective were digitized by technicians at La Camera Ottica Film and Video Restoration Laboratory (University of Udine- DAMS Gorizia), who worked for months especially on the hand-painted works by Tambellini.  The entirety of Aldo’s collection stored at Harvard was fully processed in late 2011, and many of the titles are already searchable in Harvard’s HOLLIS catalog, with an online finding aid to guide researchers through the collection forthcoming in 2012. 

double DVD released by the Italian label VON is now available in Europe, including hours of video experiments by Tambellini from the years 1966 to 1976.  Another DVD compiling Tambellini’s ‘Black Film’ series will be published by French label Re:voir later this year.  The former arrived at the HFA this week, and will be available at the Fine Arts Library for viewing in February, and the latter should be available from the Harvard libraries in 2012.

Stay tuned for more collection updates:  next time, the films of Karen Aqua!