Rome Burns – A Portrait of Shirley Clarke

Free-ranging hour-long interview with legendary film-maker and video-artist Shirley Clarke, aired on French television in 1970. As DeeDee Halleck once put it, Shirley was “somewhere between Betty Boop and Felix the Cat herself, with a bit of Charlie Chaplin’s tramp thrown in. She often wore a bowler hat and tight, smart little suits, like something out of a 1930s chorus line.” All of that is gloriously evident here. What makes this particularly interesting is that it was filmed right on the cusp of Clarke’s transformation from indie film auteur to live video/electronic-performance experimentalist, founding the Tee Pee Video Space Troupe in 1971 and devoting herself to an art practice that eschewed the production of tapes or records entirely in favor of mind-blowing video-process art conducted from her HQ in a teepee-like structure on the roof of the Chelsea hotel until she joined UCLA’s faculty in 1975. Predictably, she is infuriatingly absent from most discussions of early video art.