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JASON SIMON, Media Assistant Curator

In autumn of 1990, the Board of the Wexner Center for the Arts Foundation provided the Wexner Center's curatorial staff the opportunity to inaugurate an annual series of Residency Awards. Three such awards were to be given, one for each of the institution's principal programming areas: exhibitions, performing arts, and media arts. According to Wexner Center director Robert Stearns, the awards were intended to "foster the creation or completion of new works, and to encourage an artist to explore new directions" while in residence. These awards represented an extraordinary commitment to the Wexner's programming activities, particularly in terms of using the Residencies to further the Wexner's collaborative ties to various communities within and adjacent to The Ohio State University.

It is, happily, a two-way street. In a period of budget-tightening and economic hardship among nonprofit arts organizations and the narrowing of avenues they've traditionally sought for support, the capability to provide real financial benefits to artists for the development and extension of new work comes as something close to a blessing-and hence, in our deliberations to make that possible, a selection not lightly made.

The designation of Paper Tiger Television as one of the first recipients of the Residency Awards (along with choreographer / dancer Twyla Tharp and artist/musician Terry Allen) is, among other things, an acknowledgement and tribute to the idea of collective endeavor. DeeDee Halleck, one of PTTV's prime movers, expressed this idea passionately in planning for the collectives projects here at the Wexner:

"One of the secrets of PTTV's success is that we have been able to be inclusive: to allow the talents and initiatives of individual members/producers and those who are subjects to find full support and articulation. But the basic premise has always been that the work be identified and recognized as collective work. In thinking about all this, I recall some of my own formative experiences as an individual artist, if you will, in the lively art world of the early and mid-seventies in New York City. I didn't even like dance but there was something about the Grand Union that galvanised my own notions about creativity. Each of the dancers retained their own individuality, and yet were supported, prodded, critiqued and inspired by the group. That model was and has been an ideal for me of how creative people might work in this world. In the evolution of Paper Tiger, it has always been my goal to somehow recreate that improvisatory freshness inspiration and insight that was the Grand Union, which worked because it was a collective. as does Paper Tiger."

Thus the aspiration we are pleased to be able to honor; and no less pleased and obliged to recognise that aspiration's reality. As Desert Storm's wretched spectacle divided Americals television viewers, most of the news media scarcely concealed their allegiance to the military and to the structure of information the military chose to set in place. Then, a bolt from the blue, an alternative was beamed down from Satcom 4, transponder 22-The Gulf Crisis TV Project, presented by Paper Tiger Television. Testimony to the collective efforts of consumer-camcorder-wielding enthusiasts, this record of national dissent was embraced because it revealed the disinforming opportunism of the mainstream press. The Wexner Center screened the Project continuously during the week of its transmission (January 14-19), partly in anticipation of PTTVIs residency in Columbus but mostly to join the videographers in bearing witness to the cold distance of 200,000 people killed. No stronger confirmation could have been produced for supporting this collective, and no other instant stands more disquietingly clear for the need to Make space for independent media from all places and all people-the space of the airwaves as well as the space of the dream houses we all of us inhabit.

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Last modified: 02-17-2001
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