Kathy Acker (1947-1997)
Kathy Acker & Alan Sondheim - The Blue Tapes (1972)
Kathy Acker and Alan Sondheim, Blue Tape, 1974, 55 minutes
The black-and-white video depicts a sexually explicit, emotionally charged, and psychologically fraught encounter between a twenty-six-year-old Acker and a thirty-one-year-old Sondheim that took place over the course of a 48-hour period in Sondheim’s New York City loft. Blue Tape opens with a close-up shot of Acker as she recounts her initial meeting with Sondheim several weeks prior and the subsequent unfolding of events leading to the making of the work, including her practice of “memory experiments,” intended to “break through memory to desire.” With the camera framed tightly on Acker, Sondheim reads aloud a text she sent to him in advance of their second meeting in which she ascribes to him the role of her father, whom she never met. The text, and Sondheim’s out-of-view recitation, set the stage for the exchange (of ideas, of roles, of pleasure and its lack, of fluids) we bear witness to over the next 55 minutes. Blue Tape is a gritty, raw, and pathos-laden double portrait of Acker and Sondheim as they act out and explore psychoanalytic experimentation and the struggle for and denial of power.