Alexander Keefe’s article proposes a retrieval of Shridhar Bapat, a key figure in the early New York video art scene. A programming director at the Kitchen during its freewheeling West Village years, Bapat showed at the Whitney, put together video mixes for the annual New York Avant-Garde festivals, collaborated with Rhys Chatham and others, and co-organized the first Women’s Video Festival with Susan Milano in 1972. At the Whitney Museum’s 1971 “Special Videotape Show,” Bapat’s video Aleph Null shared space on the program with works by the likes of Nam June Paik. Bapat’s career was short lived, in part because he inhabited an unstable moment, one characterized by fluid collectives and a non-commercial, non-curatorial ethos. When the visionary team behind the Kitchen’s early years disbanded, Bapat moved on to Shirley Clarke’s TeePee Video Space Troupe and tech work at Anthology Film Archives, showed his work at the Mudd Club one night in the early 1980s, and eventually fell out of sight altogether. He died homeless on the Bowery in the 1990s. The article includes interviews with Bapat’s collaborators and extensive research from the archives of the Kitchen and Anthology Film Archives, and at the Fondation Daniel Langlois in Montreal.
Alexander Keefe is a freelance writer whose work has a special focus on South Asian art. He has published many articles on contemporary and modern art, including reviews and features for Bidoun magazine, Artforum.com, Art Asia Pacific, Art India, and Camerawork Delhi, among others. Recent articles include “Lord of the Drone: Pandit Pran Nath and the American Underground” in Bidoun 20, “Whirling in the West” in Bidoun 23, and “Aleph-Null” in Bidoun 27. Keefe studied Sanskrit and Indian studies at Harvard University and was an assistant professor at Ohio University.