The Continuing Story of Carel and Ferd (1970-75)

Nov 11, 2015

The Continuing Story

Please join EAI for a special presentation of The Continuing Story of Carel and Ferd (1970-75), by Arthur Ginsberg and Video Free America—a groundbreaking work of video verité that focuses on the unconventional union of Carel Rowe and Ferd Eggan, two self-proclaimed "freaky people" attempting to conform to the norms of American domestic bliss.

The Continuing Story of Carel and Ferd (1970-75)
58:35 min, b&w and color, sound
  Wednesday, November 11

6:30 pm

Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)
535 West 22nd Street, 5th Fl.
New York, NY 10011

Admission $5
Free for EAI Members

The Continuing Story of Carel and Ferd was prescient in provoking questions about the veracity and objectivity of a live-in camera and crew, pre-dating the ubiquity of reality television by at least three decades. The project may be seen as a countercultural precursor to Alan and Susan Raymond's landmark PBS documentary series, An American Family (1973), which also focused on a family's dysfunctional reality.

The project began as a tape about pornography, with Carel and Ferd conscripting Arthur Ginsberg to document their wedding and its consummation, but soon expanded to become a larger social experiment. Video, just then emerging as a new tool for artists and broadcast journalists alike, lent itself to a more impulsive and immediate approach, which Ginsberg exploited for the sake of capturing "the effect of living too close to an electronic medium." Over a period of two years, thirty hours of black-and-white footage was collected, including the centerpiece wedding. Rather than editing this footage down to produce a conventional documentary, Video Free America presented it as a participatory media event across eight monitors, with a live mixing of channels that interspersed scenes of Carel and Ferd with a live feed of the video equipment playing back their story.

Several years later, Carel and Ferd's relationship was further mediated for broadcast on the public television station WNET/Thirteen, New York, which is the version that will screen at EAI. Reuniting with Ginsberg, the three were interviewed about the project, coolly analyzing the experience in the bright lights of a television studio, now in color. With this objective distance, the couple, who had since split, recognized their roles as actors in a media show, cast in a storyline that thrived on Carel's background in porn films, Ferd's drug addiction and bisexuality, and a bohemian lifestyle that harkened back to the free-loving 1960s. For them, the shift from production to exhibition, bending private moments towards a public stage, necessitated a sensationalism that Ferd described as "squeezing the ambiguity out of relationships," and Carel called a "McLuhan nightmare."

Taken in total, The Continuing Story... is a fascinating and haunting case study of the inextricable link between video technology and the public stage of television, looking ahead to an era in which the lines between private and public space are nearly indistinguishable.


Arthur Ginsberg, a pioneer of alternative video in the early 1970s, was co-founder, along with Skip Sweeney, of the San Francisco media collective Video Free America. A pioneer of alternative video in the early 1970s, Arthur Ginsberg was a co-founder, with Skip Sweeney, of the San Francisco media collective Video Free America. There, Ginsberg began to focus on experimental video and technology-driven art. Prolific and timely, Video Free America produced regular screenings and exhibitions that incorporated a diversity of mediums, including live performance and moving image works that involved both abstract, synthesizer-produced images and reality-based, cinéma vérité scenes. Ginsberg also used his theater training and connections to collaborate with the Chelsea Theater Center on three plays—Kaspar (1974), AC/DC (1977), and Kaddish (1977)— that incorporated video into the staging. In the decades since the release of Carel and Ferd, Video Free America has expanded and produced, shot, and edited hundreds of documentaries, travelogues, children's features, dance and art performances, and created programs for PBS and international broadcast. Outside of his work in experimental video and as part of Video Free America, Ginsberg has edited and directed a number of films and documentaries. These include The Halloween that Almost Wasn't (1979), which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in 1980, and The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter (1993), nominated for the 1994 Oscar for Best Feature Documentary. He currently lives in Santa Cruz, California.


About EAI

Founded in 1971, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is a nonprofit arts organization that fosters the creation, exhibition, distribution, and preservation of moving image art. A New York-based international resource for media art and artists, EAI holds a major collection of over 3,500 new and historical media artworks, from groundbreaking early video by pioneering figures of the 1960s to new digital projects by today's emerging artists. EAI works closely with artists, museums, schools and other venues worldwide to preserve and provide access to this significant archive. EAI services also include viewing access, educational initiatives, extensive online resources, technical facilities, and public programs such as artists' talks, screenings, and multi-media performances. EAI?s Online Catalogue is a comprehensive resource on the artists and works in the EAI collection, and features expansive materials on media art's histories and current practices:


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EAI's Public Programs are supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. EAI also receives program support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

With special thanks to Bill Seery, Director of Preservation Services, The Standby Program


Press Release for "The Continuing Story of Carel and Ferd," at EAI, November 11, 2015