New York: 1966-2001. 59 photographs, 118 negatives, 86 slides, and 20 contact sheets, mostly of the staging of the event, along with images of the after party and related events, all taken by the photographer Ronald Maker, who also worked under the name Ronald Miglionico.
Rare documentation of one of the most important of the early happenings in New York, and took place at Hansen's loft space on Avenue D on the Lower East Side. Aside from this remarkable archive, there appears to be almost no substantial documention of the event, making this a valuable trove of images for any work on Happenings.
Hansen had been a student in John Cage's legendary "Experimental Composition" class at the New School, and it was there that he met the other early participants in the development of Happenings - George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Jime Dine, Allan Kaprow, Jackson Mac Low and others.
In 1962 Hansen also began the Third Rail Gallery, an important alternative venue for Happenings and Fluxus in his loft on Avenue D in the East Village. It was here that McLuhan Megillah was staged, premiering on January 29, 1966 - when the legendary blizzard of 1966 hit, and the NY fire department was closing in, attempting to get the space closed down. The event was described in a contemporary article in the East Village Other;
The audience, in order to get to the seating arrangements, has to pass through a cellophane tunnel. One cannot help having the feeling of entering a tunnel of love or fun house into a "Coney Island of the Mind,” a sort of cartoon strip of the painted on its tube, blares and glares its inanities. Ladders, lights and candles abound; a woman silk screens the word TEAM in large orange reddish colors on paper and across the skin of some of the event’s participants; Carol Berge reads Vogue and the East Village Other with poetic intonations; A dancer pirouettes around burning candles in the middle of the floor performing some kind of obstacle course ballet; Norm June Paik tries to start a fire by blowing on a lit lightbulb; and Dick Higgins reads a passage from M'cLuhan’s "Understanding Media” several times during the performance. One of the highlights of the event is when Higgins sings this same passage in aria from displaying a rare talent for classical singing." - Alex Sale, The East Village Other, Volume 1, issue 7, March 1 - 15, 1966.
A complete list of materials follows, organized by folder number.
Thirty-nine b/w photographs of the performance of McLuhan Megillah, six of which are duplicates, most 8 x 10” or approximate size. Several have sometimes lengthy annotations at verso, likely by the photographer, though in at lest one other hand as well, in one case with a holograph correction to the original text.
Seven color 8 x 10 prints of the performance, including one duplicate, two of which have extensive notes on verso regarding the performance and subjects.
Nine 3 3/8 x 5” color prints of the performance, including one duplicate, in a franked manila envelope addressed to Ronald Maker from David Sommer.
One b/w 4 x 5” photograph of Al Hansen in performance, with corresponding engative, both housed in a glassine envelope.
Five color negative strips, each bearing five images, with the exception of one which bears four, featuring installation shots of McLuhan Megillah performance photographs exhibited at the Angus Chamberlain Gallery, housed in a glassine sleeve. With related printed processing form, all held in a franked manila envelope addressed to “Consortia”/ Ronald Maker, from K. Carbone.
One b/w negative strip bearing 5 images, featuring performance shots of MM, two corresponding contact sheets with annotations and marking in red and black ink on recto, with holograph text on verso of each contact sheet, reading “2/18/66 - 3rd Rai; GALRY / A / Al in frames red lined.”
Nine b/e negstive strips, five of which bear five images each, the remainder which are partial, of the Third Rail Gallery on the opening night of the first performance, in glassine sleeve labeled “Third Rail / 1/29/66/ D, held within a hand-labelled sleeve. One corresponding contact sheet with markings in red on verso, and on verso a holograph note reading “Third Rail Gallery 1/29/66 / D #31 - ‘Happening by 4 Kittnes”; one corresponding 8 x 10” b/w print with image of young Adam Curtis. One clipping from the FEbruary 3, 1966 issue of the Village Voice, with article on the performance. All held in a manila envelope labelled, in holograph, “Third Rail Galry / D-1/29/66 Sat. - McLuhan Megillah / C - 2/4/6 Fri.- Villag Voice, p. 11, photo by Fred McDarrah 2/3/66 / D- 1/29/66 Carolee Schneeman, Marta Minugin, Valerie Herouvis, cat & kittens (Party scenes / C- 2/4/66, Fri., ‘Whole Town Doomed.”
Four sleevs of b/w negative strips, three in glassine sleeves, each labelled in holograph - “session 1/66 1/3/66,” “AL’s PARTY / Al @359,” “Rick 1/66 1/3/66” and one in paper sleeve labelled “John Chase / 1-7-66”; five corresponding contact sheets, some stapled together back to back, some partial, one with markings in red on recto. All held in a manila envelope with holograph note stating “Session - 1/3/66 / Al’s Party 1/4/66; Richard / John Chace 1/7/66.”
Five pocketed sheets of color slides, three bearing 20 slides, one bearing 16, and one bearing 10, all housed in a manila envelope labelled in holograph, addressed to Ronald Maker, from Michael Melvin in Los Angeles, with a holograph note at verso: “Beck & Al Hansen / Santa Monica Museum.
Three nb/w negative strips, bearing 15 images in total, housed in a glassine envelope labelled “June ’68 - Bibbe & Al Hansen / Contact”; two corresponding 8 x 10” b/w prints in glassine envelope, each labelled in holograph pencil “Bibbe & Al Hansen - June 1968 / Ronald Miglionico - photographer / 359 Bowery, NYC. RM’s studio.”
Six b/w contact sheets, one partial, two full, and three mostly full (two of which are duplicates). One sheet with markings in red marker, and one with holograph notations in purple ink, all held in a mainla envelope labeled in holograph “Hindauter - reading at Off Center Thtr May 6, 1968 / Barbara Mott, Tony Miossachio, Al Hansen 359 Studio Bowery / Bibbe Hansen, Al Hansen 359 Bowery Studio / Ronald Miglionico - Self photos 359 Bowery / AHAB IV, Gallery of Monder Art Joy Becker / Contacts: No Negs Here - Neg’s Separate.”
Four b/w negative strips, three in glassine sleeve, one in acetate sleeve; one corresponding b/w contact sheet, with marking in red ink on recto, and holograph notations on verso in black ink and pencil: “ B-2 / 2-12-66 Sat. / #SAE - Film - Al on Ladder wth Umbrella & Dancer & Valerie / Al does a Newspaper Snow Job with Valerie and a Dancer / Valerie Favors Wig, TEAM Dancer / “Out of Actions” (Catalogue & Exhibition) / 401 B-1/ Start STrip / 4th STrip / 2nd Strip / 3rd Strip”; one b/w contact sheet of exhibition installation, likely from the “OUt of Actions” exhibit; all held in a clear plastic sleeve.
All contents near fine or better, some showing moderate age oxidation and slight curling. Item #27126