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Ground Glass Award 2023

Each year Prismatic Ground bestows the Ground Glass Award upon a figure who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of experimental media. Following Lynne Sachs in 2021 and Christopher Harris in 2022, this year's recipient, Anthony Ramos, is recognized in partnership with Electronic Arts Intermix, who held a series of in-person screenings and conversations with Ramos in late April 2023. Four of Ramos's videos are available to stream throughout the festival, courtesy of EAI. Click here to read a recent interview conducted by EAI Executive Director Rebecca Cleman for Screen Slate. Curated by Rebecca Cleman and Tyler Maxin.

Anthony Ramos, a prolific painter, is also a significant but underrecognized figure in the early video movement. His participation in Allan Kaprow’s happenings in the 1960s set him up to stage performances and scenarios that were provocative and unexpected. His videos from the early 1970s include spare, often intentionally uncomfortable direct-camera performances, while his later video essays were richly layered and personal, incorporating footage from his global travels. As varied as his videos are, they collectively offer his unflinching views on subjects mainstream media tends to gloss over or cover up: in particular, the legacy of racism and corrupt power structures. Hard-hitting, while also poignant and witty, Ramos’s moving-image work leaves an indelible impression that punches right through the thin façade of whitewashed America.  —Rebecca Cleman


About Media

Anthony Ramos, 1977, 25 min.

Ramos' astute deconstruction of television news focuses on the media coverage of President Jimmy Carter's 1977 declaration of amnesty for Vietnam War draft resisters, and his personal involvement with the issue. Ramos, who had served an eighteen-month prison sentence for draft resistence, was interviewed by New York news reporter Gabe Pressman. Using repetition and juxtaposition, he contrasts the unedited interview footage — and patronizing comments of the news crew — with Pressman's final televised news report. In his ironic manipulation of the material, Ramos exposes the illusion and artifice of television news. — EAI

Nor Was This All By Any Means

Anthony Ramos, 1978, 24 min.

In this densely layered work, Ramos explores his cultural and personal heritage through a collage of recorded and appropriated footage. Juxtaposing African and American landscapes, personal and media imagery, he traces a spiritual and physical journey that moves from Harlem to Goree Island, Cape Verde and Tanzania. In a forceful portrait of cultural disenfranchisement that refers to the African diaspora and the bitter harvest sown by slavery, he challenges the veracity of mass cultural images of African-Americans. —EAI

Decent Men

Anthony Ramos, 1977/2013, 70 min.

Decent Men, created over a period of almost forty years, is a video collage built around Ramos' powerful extended monologue on his eighteen months in federal prison for resisting the draft during the Vietnam War. As Ramos, a compelling raconteur, tells the story of his interactions with prisoners and guards as a 23-year-old draft resister, his charged performance narrative is interrupted with vintage cartoons that feature grotesque racial stereotypes. Ramos' stories of prison life are overlaid with footage from the artist's early performances and his 1977 video About Media, which addressed the media's coverage of President Carter's amnesty for draft resisters. The result is an extraordinary first-hand narrative of Ramos' prison experiences within the cultural, racial and political climate of America in the late 1960s. —EAI

Mao Meets Muddy

Anthony Ramos, 1989, 35 min.

Mao Meets Muddy documents a trip Ramos made to Beijing to accompany his good friend, painter Frederick J. Brown, for a retrospective of Brown’s work at the National Museum of China in Tiananmen Square in 1988. It was the first solo exhibition in China of a Western artist, and Ramos sets the stage by narrating in voiceover his personal and inherited views of the country and its politics, molded by the xenophobia of his childhood in the Cold War 1950s. Countering this, Ramos explores the prospect of and precedent for solidarity between Communist China and Black people in America, represented by the occasion of Brown’s exhibition. —EAI

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