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Post-20-year-old VHS recordings

Diana Quinby’s VHS tapes have been converted to MP3 format, and I (finally!) received them this week. Diana is undoubtedly a bearer of good news and valuable additions to the archive.

I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to all the recordings yet. I started with the oldest one, dated May 24, 1999. It lasts just under two hours. You can hear a slight clicking sound every second; Diana informed me that it’s a minor defect that occurred during digitization. I’ll figure out how to address this and appropriately “clean“ the file.

You might think I’m being overly romantic, but there is a certain charm, even poetry, in these recordings, at least in the one I listened to from May 24. Whether it’s Nil’s familiar voice, the ambient chatter captured by the outdated recording device, or the French melodies playing softly in the background, it’s difficult to remain indifferent to these recordings. I imagine Nil and Diana, then a young doctoral student in art history, sitting by the window of Nil’s studio (the very same she occupies today), enjoying (let’s push the romantic vision to the utmost) the sun beaming through the window and filling the space. Indeed, given her studio’s top-floor location, one can scarcely imagine it devoid of luminosity.

Diana provided some insights into this audio:

At the beginning, on the A side of the cassette from May 24, 1999, Nil talks about meetings of women artists, for example, at Vera Molnar’s place. She also talks about Françoise Eliet, who was an ethnologist (Nil says anthropologist); Françoise wanted to do some work with Nil based on her thesis in “ethno-botany“. Nil also mentions the day of action on March 11, 1978, and the brochure of which I just sent you the scan. I also hear the voice of Fabienne Dumont; we were both there that day. Fabienne must also have a recording of this meeting!

I believe that analyzing the audio alongside Diana’s handwritten notes will provide valuable insights. As Diana pointed out, her notes closely mirror the cassette’s content. Cross-referencing both could be beneficial for future research. Speaking of which, it seems imperative to me to transcribe these interviews to enhance accessibility for future platform users and to delve deeper into my analysis of Nil’s works, approach, and inspirations (or, as Nil prefers, “impression“). I’ll see what I can do.

Cover picture by Diana Quinby (thank you!)

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