Close Up

13 November 2016: VHS in off-World: Videograms of a Revolution

This programme presents two aspects of video as political tool: a medium allowing both the illegal exhibition of Western culture under Romania's dictatorship and a non-state, live record of the fall of the Ceausescu regime.

Featuring a specially commissioned glitch video Six Two Five Scanning, Four-o-Five Scanning by artist and broadcaster Simon Tyszko.

Videograms of a Revolution
Harun Farocki & Andrei Ujica
1992 | 107 min | Colour | Digital

History takes place before your eyes in Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica's fascinating film covering the 1989 fall of the Ceaucescu regime in Romania. A radical, media-based chronology that condenses 125 hours of footage, Videograms of a Revolution carefully mediates perspective as it presents a picture of political turmoil as revealing and chilling as Eisenstein's October. A recorded spectacle of dramatic, operatic and grotesque character.

VHS in off-World: Film Dubbing as Subversion
Visual essay and live dubbing: Irina Margareta Nistor in person
Curated by David Ellis

Between 1984-89 in the apartments of tower blocks in Bucharest capital of a sequestered Communist Romania 1000’s of pirated videocassettes, forbidden films from the West were screened illegally. The disorientating foreignness of these technicoloured, ideology-busting films were tempered by the voice of Irina Margareta Nistor who frequently skirted exposure and arrest by Nicolae Ceasescu’s dreaded Securitate whilst simultaneously translating and dubbing the films into Romanian. These VHS cassettes circulating via a clandestine network would speed-up an increasing rupture between Ceasescu’s monochrome totalitarianism and a people desperate for liberation.

Irina Margareta Nistor worked as a translator of TV programmes in Romania under the communist regime, and is known for secretly dubbing over 3,000 banned film titles on VHS tapes smuggled in from the West. During the time of the Cold War, these tapes quickly spread throughout the country, and her voice became instantly recognisable for millions of Romanians. In a recent New York Times video about Nistor, one of the interviewees observes: "We did start to wonder why all the films were dubbed by the same voice... [Nistor’s] is the most well-known voice in Romania after Ceausescu's..."

In this unique event Irina Margareta Nistor joins curator David Ellis in collaboration with OM, the Romanian Urban Collective Memory Archive, for a visual essay & talk on forbidden culture, including the screening of original VHS material with live dubbing, followed by Q&A.

This programme is kindly supported by the Goethe-Institut, the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Romanian Urban Collective Memory Archive.

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