Space, Land and Time
Underground Adventures with ANT FARM
A documentary by Laura Harrison and Elizabeth Federici
Before Burning Man, before The Yes Men, before South Park, before flash mobs, there was Ant Farm, the prototypical underground culture jamming architectural firm and performance art and media collective whose antics and anarchic guerrilla theatre paved the way for future armies of free-thinkers and public artists.
Born in San Francisco out of the subversive counterculture ethos of the 1960s, founders Chip Lord and Doug Michels, and later Curtis Schreier and Hudson Marquez, sought initially to challenge the conventional notions of how buildings and living spaces were conceived. They eventually evolved into an “art agency that [promoted] ideas that [had] no commercial potential, but which [they thought were] important vehicles of cultural introspection.”
For the uninitiated, the inflatable living spaces, extremely strange home designs, and savage guerrilla media commentary will seem all too familiar. 1975’s Media Burn, where a tricked-out Cadillac barreled full steam ahead into a pyramid of flaming televisions, the controversial re-staging of the Kennedy assassination and the iconic Cadillac Ranch could all have been taken right out of a little art show held each September in Nevada.
Luckily, Ant Farm was also an early pioneer of videomaking and documented much of their craziness. This film is a potent combination of video, music, animation and editing that captures the spirit of this underground group, which mixed political subversion and goofy good times to create an art movement that resonates today.
After working in France for eight years, primarily as a picture and sound editor on French feature films, Laura returned to the U.S. to complete an MA in Documentary Film Production at Stanford University. She has been making documentary films and videos about a diverse range of subjects ever since. Prior projects as producer/director/editor include Thurmond, W.Va.(Silver Apple at NEMN 1996, Director’s Choice at Black Maria 1996), and Secret People (Silver Medal for Best Feature Documentary, SXSW Film Festival 1999), a one-hour documentary film about leprosy in America that was broadcast on national PBS. Most recently, Laura co-executive-produced Voting in America, a compilation of 9 short films about why Americans don’t vote that was broadcast on PBS.
Beth is an independent filmmaker, educator and media activist. Most recently she co-directed/produced the feature length documentaryNeither Here Nor There, which documents a Bosnian refugee family making Missouri their new home while struggling to come to terms with the past they left in Srebrenica. Federici was awarded three gold Telly awards while producing/editing for the Columbia Channel in Columbia, Missouri, as well as a Merit Finalist award from the Worldfest Houston film festival for her documentary Bauhaus Gotham. She earned a Masters degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2007 and works as a freelance producer/editor Portland Oregon. She is currently at work on a new documentary about the life of James Beard.