Anda Korsts
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Editors note:
Anda Korsts 

wpe16.gif (256588 bytes)Former radio newsperson Anda Korsts organized Videopolis, a "community video access project," early this year. It's a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation designed to make sure that Chicago appreciates the potential and explores the possibilities of half-inch tape before cable arrives.

If Videopolis is any indication, Anda has a great future in underground TV. As Ken Englund of the Illinois Arts Council staff puts it "Nothing gets in her way!" Her ability and aggressiveness has enable her to involve organizations as diverse as the Arts Council, the North Lawndale Economic Development Corporation, and the Latvian magazine Mazputnins in the project.

In Anda's words, Videopolis is Chicago's first "comprehensive video project." It provides information about, and access to, video. Loop College, the

Chicago Board of Education, and Urban Gateways of Chicago have utilized Anda and her two partners in Videopolis, Lilly Ollinger and Jack McFadden, to train people in the use of video equipment and to study the feasibility of using video as an adjunct to their programs.

The group's more specific focus for this year is experimentation with five uses of tape: education, community organization, arts documentation, historical documentation, and archiving.

Because it's the first group in Chicago organized to meet the need for various kinds of experimentation, Videopolis has formed associations with some of the city's most vital institutions: It is investigating tape's community organization potential with the Citizens Action Program and documenting the history of Hull House. With Studs Terkel, Videopolis is studying the possibility of putting books like Division Street: America and Hard Times on videotape.

And Videopolis has accomplished some firsts. In the area of arts documentation, it has been developing a series of programs about the "Chicago School" of artists, the first significant effort to document these artists and their work. Videopolis helps each artist to produce his own tape. The initial one-hour tape was shot in Ed Paschke's home. Videopolis has also preserved some of the Lincoln Avenue theater scene for posterity by taping the Organic Theater's Warp and well as Turds in Hell, Muzeeka, and Saved at the Kingston Mines Theater.

But these are only a few of Videopolis's liaisons in the Chicago community. It's constantly working to accumulate more, in Chicago and around the country. Last year Anda attended most of the major gatherings on cable TV and alternative media. Videopolis maintains extensive print and tape libraries, circulates a newsletter, and sponsors regular tape showings.

The basic funding of Videopolis -- $23,000 for one year  -- comes from the Arts Council, the Wieboldt Foundation, and the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle. Although it would pay for only one hour-long filmed documentary at Channel 11, the $23,000, plus about $2,000 from organizations given access to Videopolis, will pay for equipment, salaries, tape, and other expenses for one year. Videopolis is a special program in Circle's College of Urban Studies (the University's coordinator is veteran Chicago filmmaker Jerry Temaner), which status entitles it to the use of sophisticated editing facilities and an institutional framework for the distribution of videotapes.

tour years ago, Anda Korsts covered the City Hall beat for WBBM Radio. She didn't like it, with one exception. "The Convention in '68 was great. But I had my assignment. I realized when I was done that I knew almost nothing about the Convention."

After leaving WBBM, she worked with Michael Sham berg, author of Guerrilla Television (a guide to alternative video) and a member of Raindance, a pioneering video cooperative in New York City. Anda and Shamberg had once worked together as reporters at Chicago's City News Bureau.

Last year Anda was a part of Top Value Television, a group coordinated by Shamberg which utilized half-inch equipment to cover both political conventions. Now known as TVTV, it marketed three tapes of the conventions to several cable companies and broadcast stations (including Channel 11 in Chicago). Anda appreciated the ability to shoot a virtually unlimited amount of tape and the lack of necessity to drag a union crew along with her as she shot. She feels she knows something about the 1972 conventions. And she learned something about the nature of the new medium in contrast to broadcast television or radio: "Because it's inexpensive and mobile, you don't have to plan, as opposed to the planning that's done in broadcast TV or film. You don't have to decide on an interpretation before you cover an event. It's closer to writing. With writing, you take notes about everything. You go back afterwards and find the quotes or descriptions that are most suggestive. Similarly, with half-inch tape, you can just keep on taping." 

Anda's background is in painting. But she loves the process of using tape, especially if its allowing her to be relatively self-sufficient - she can use both camera and microphone at once. She intends one day to do "very personal video art."



Kaye Miller Remembers Anda Korsts

In fairness, I should say that Anda and I were never actually friends, but we did have a quietly adversarial relationship in those early days of half-inch video.  I remember Anda occasionally auditing my class on "video as a research tool." She tapped her foot continuously, and seemed itching to scream "Wrong approach, wrong approach!"  She seemed to have little taste for analytic thought or language, but wanted to get on with the task of confronting people and getting into their faces.  It was not that she could not analyze;  she thought that the need had passed and it was time to get on with the actual projects.

Her point was that truth was out there to be seen, that half-inch video gave us the means to get at it, and that we should not waste time theorizing, pontificating, and beating about the bush.  Interestingly, through intelligence, energy and sheer persistence, she carved out a place for herself and her vision in a situation still largely dominated by men, who seemed to want to be in charge of both the technology and its theoretical applications.  The new technology was a "guy thing," and so the guys also took the lead role in saying what it all meant.  (This was somewhat akin to the anti-war movement in the 1960's, when the men strategized and the women were supposed to make the coffee.)   Anda broke through that, and so was not always the most popular kid on the block.

As the article in The Hyde Parker characterised her:  "nothing gets in her way."  In this she was admirable, even if difficult.  If you saw her in the TVTV 1972 convention tapes, or in "Gerald Ford's America," she came across as fearless and direct.  And, she was persistent.  Roberta and I remember her once at a party with a lot of other half-inchers, with the usual rhetoric flying about.  Anda picked up a portapak and began shooting (we felt to be able to show people later just how full of hot air they were), but no one wanted to be shot.  She was adamant.  Everyone else was fairly annoyed.  But she shot tape, backing away to middle distance.   I don't know what Anda's talents were as an artist, but it would be wonderful to see something of her later work.  In all, she was one of the more unforgettable people of that time.

Kaye Miller
British Columbia
August 2005



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