for some unfortunate reason, i hadn't been to the czech center in a very long time. this monday, however, i couldn't resist not going, because the documentary they were going to play sounded way too good to simply ignore. i was very happy to find the room absolutely crowded with young people who had come to see genuine footage about how it was like to be an artist in New York, in the 70s.
Truth is, the documentary was indeed a bliss. Woody and Steina Vasulka had left the Czech Republic in order to go to New York nearly 40 years ago, and this change of scenery turned them into real chroniclers of the underground scene of Soho, who used their Sony Portapak in order to record images from rock concerts, undergroung events and whatever else which made a point about the context and atmosphere of that period of time.
Participation is a sample of footage that pictures the genuine atmosphere of those times: it doesn't have a script, or other cuts except from the ones between different scenes, but it surely has examples of attitudes from so many different manifestations from artists of that period, that you end up with quite a clear picture about how things were back then. Life for Soho artists surely looked difficult, but their passion in expressing themselves seemed so powerful and boldly stated, that you could simply feel wild energy and creativity floating around. The documentary features transvestite actors, ian gillan, jimi hendrix, jj johnson and many others, showing an uncensored, vaguely filtered highly pitoresque universe.
pic from here.