Videofreex at National Gallery of Art Sunday, March 9

Before YouTube, camera phones, and America’s Funniest Home Video pranks, there were the VideoFreex. Born in Woodstock, N.Y., and armed with a Sony Portapak, one of the first portable video cameras, the video collective roamed the streets and created some of television’s first counterculture programming. In 1972, the group launched the first pirate television station, Lanesville TV, and barged their way onto the airwaves with content that was at its best honest, and at its worst, weird. Over their nine years, they produced, shot, and edited thousands of videotapes and helped train hundreds of amateur videographers in what was then a cutting edge medium. Now, in a reversal of fortunes, founding members of the group will appear as distinguished guests at the National Gallery of Art for a 90-minute presentation culled from the Video Data Bank in Chicago. The show includes original video excerpts, an interview with organizer Abbie Hoffman, and footage of a discussion with the late Fred Hampton, deputy chairman of the Illinois Black Panthers. No word yet on whether recording will be allowed during the discussion, allowing others to create their own meta tribute. The program begins at 4 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art East Building Auditorium, 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 737-4215. nga.gov.

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