Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art celebrates 50 years by opening up their archive

To The Racy Brink

July 1 – December 10, 2017

Turner Gallery, fourth floor

Media Burn played an important role in making this exhibition possible by digitizing 100 hours of artist interviews from the MCA Archives. These videos will be seen by the public for the first time in decades as part of To The Racy Brink.

Since opening in 1967, the MCA has championed artistic experimentation and risk taking. To the Racy Brink kicks off the MCA’s 50th anniversary by honoring the artists and exhibitions that placed the museum on the vanguard of contemporary art. The historical material on display highlights some of the MCA’s daring early projects with emerging artists (many of whom later became household names), and advertising campaigns that encouraged Chicagoans to try something new. This exhibition is organized by Lynne Warren, Curator, and Mary Richardson, Library Director.

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Stills from artist interviews with Fred Wilson (1994) and Lorna Simpson (1992). (c) MCA Chicago. More info at:

Library Director Mary Richardson explains:

In 1979, the MCA started creating videos of artist interviews to accompany their one person exhibitions at the museum. At the time, it was a somewhat novel way for audiences to hear directly from living artists in the galleries. These interviews are important documentation of the MCA’s history, but they also hold broader art historical value. The videos frequently featured artists relatively early in their careers and who went on to become well-know, such as Jeff Koons, Lorna Simpson, Vito Acconci, and Magdalena Abakanowicz.

The videos were U-matic tapes, so many of the videos had started to degrade. Because of the condition of the tapes and the fact that we did not have duplicates, we were at times hesitant to even play the tapes. Digitizing the tapes became a top priority, especially with the MCA’s 50th anniversary on the horizon. We needed to find a reliable local vendor to digitize this content which is irreplaceable and totally unique to the MCA.

We were very pleased with Media Burn’s work – they communicated clearly about our project and completed the project within our timeframe. Digitizing the tapes has made the content much more accessible. We have been thrilled to be able to share these videos with the public, researchers, and some of the artists’ studios.

Talk to us today about how we can help you or your organization recover your valuable content!




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