DeeDee Halleck has been a pivotal figure in the development of radical media since the 1960s. She is the founder of Paper Tiger Television, an influential radical television program and open media collective, and co-founder of the Deep Dish Satellite Network, the first grass roots community broadcast network. She was involved in transforming the radio news program Democracy Now! into a daily TV show, and continues to be a tireless media activist who was the plaintiff in a freedom of speech case heard this year by the Supreme Court. What is less known about her and the subject of this interview, however, is her deep roots in the post-war New York avant-garde. During a recent conversation, which prompted this interview, she recounted this fascinating history about which there is scant documentation. DeeDee made films with Nancy Holt, Richard Serra, Yvonne Rainer, and many others, and these collaborations were solidified, in part, because she lived at Gate Hill Coop, a housing cooperative 23 miles outside of New York City. The Coop was founded in 1954 by Black Mountain College faculty and students and was the occasional home to John Cage, Stan and Johanna VanDerBeek, M.C. Richards, Paul and Vera Williams, David Tudor, Ben Patterson, and many others. Still in operation as a cooperative, we visited Gate Hill on August 4, 2018 to talk about DeeDee’s life at the Coop and her recollections about the intertwined histories of radical media and the avant-garde.
A coda about Gate Hill Coop by M.C. Richards:
“As artists, we work through images. As a community of artists, I propose that we think of the way we use our land, ourselves, each other, as artistic images. That we solve our problems of money with the exactness and originality of artists. That we approach our meetings with the exactness and attention we give to other performances. That we extend ourselves into the larger neighborhood as if we were extending an image: working big, architecturally, with the same care for quality, tone, freedom and wholeness.
Well, that’s enough. Let someone else pick up the theme next time. Community as Art.”
—M.C. Richards in Landkidzink! (Winter 2003/4)