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The Lower East Side
Biography Project


The Lower East Side Biography Project

The Lower East Side Biography Project is a community based media program training individuals in all aspects of dv video production. Participants attend workshops and then apply their new skills by working within small production teams to shoot, edit and direct their own biography segment on one of the long-term residents of the Lower East Side. This project attempts to stem the cultural amnesia in the rapidly changing Lower East Side by creating a dialogue between the project's biography subjects and newcomers to the city and the neighborhood. The Project hopes to give neophyte videographers the opportunity to work with quality documentary material as well as the satisfaction of preserving precious oral histories for future generations. In addition to creating biographies, the LES Bio Project routinely documents live events.

The Lower East Side, the Hispanic community of Losaida and Chinatown, is one the New York City's most ethnically diverse neighborhoods. The archive that is being created by the LES Bio Project is not just a compilation of biographies and live events, but represents an investigation into the essence of a community and the attempt to preserve one of America's most historically, politically and culturally significant neighborhoods.

Since its inception in 1999, the LES Bio Project has trained 28 individuals, completed 22 programs, shot 18 biographical interviews and dozens of live events. In 2000, the LES Bio Project helped to form a video oral history collective, Oral New York. This collective, whose members include the cultural historian Steven Watson, art historian Alan Moore, and Martha Wilson, founder of Franklin Furnace, aims to keep alive the history of the bohemianism, avant-garde arts, and political rebellion in New York City. Through its web site it hopes to become the "Grand Central" of oral histories, a clearing-house for researchers, and a bridge between historians and media makers. In 2001, the Project became part of a downtown arts, music and video collective, Fang Productions, whose mission is to facilitate the distribution of work of downtown artists.

The Lower East Side Biography Project was founded by Penny Arcade and Steve Zehentner; its members include: Dean Lance, Geoff Bruen, Anna Wierzbicka, Patti Van Dyke, Jeffrey Galusha, Aubrey Anable, Virginia Williams, Justin O. Silverman, Amy P. Ferrara, Nadia Macnider, Jodi Wetzel, Samantha Hadfield, Chris Rael, Trinity Canty, Hugh Gran, Masatsugu Shimura, Jill Cowburn, Heiko Kalmbach, Eric Wallach, Sibylle Jud, James Williamson, Josh Diamond, and Keith Geller.

Funding for The Lower East Side Biography Project provided by Manhattan Neighborhood Network. Fiscal sponsorship provided by ABC No Rio.

LES Bio Project
cablecast & cybercast

Every Wed. at 11:00pm

Time-Warner 34/78
RCN 109/112 - Channel 34

The Lower East Side Biography Project
Promotional Video (5MB)

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