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by Robert Rodger
‘Every letter I write is not a love letter’. Inventing sociality with Ray Johnson’s postal system.”
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Video Details and Descriptions

by Nicholas Maravell

DVD TWO

Content Tags: Heckscher Museum, Joseph Cornell, photos, Stanley Twardowicz

Ray at the Heckscher Museum (Rehearsal)
  • April 1987
  • 33 min. 33 sec.
  • Black & White and also Color
  • Taped: The Heckscher Museum, Huntington, New York, Just Kids Nostalgia Shop, Huntington New York, a bookstore, Huntington, New York, the home of the Batcheller family, East Northport, New York
  • Equipment: Mitsubishi VHS recorder, Elmo video camera

Ray, planning a performance at The Heckscher Museum, did a rehearsal to get a sense of the museumʼs space. The actual performance did not resemble the rehearsal. After spending time in the museum we drove to an antique/collectibles store, a book store, and then to the home of Helen Batcheller, niece of artist Joseph Cornell, who by coincidence lived not far from a road named Cornell Street.

Links on a reference in this video

Nebraska photographer Solomon D. Butcher→

Ray After Watching the Videos
  • April 1987 – 5 min. 28 sec. – Color
  • Taped: Greenlawn, New York
  • Equipment: Panasonic VHS recorder, Elmo video camera

This videotape was made after Ray viewed footage from the previous video. Note that Ray holds what he calls a beach rock. In the Heckscher Museum performance video he is seen presenting the same or a similar rock to Melanie a member of the museumʼs staff for her to give to her absent colleague Stephanie.

Ray at the Heckscher Museum (Performance)
  • April 26, 1987
  • 20 min. 44 sec.
  • Black & White and also Color
  • Taped: The Heckscher Museum, Huntington, New York. Ending taped at N. Maravellʼs home, Greenlawn, New York.
  • Equipment: Panasonic VHS recorder, Panasonic video camera

The recording of Rayʼs performance ends early due to drained batteries on the video recorder borrowed for this taping. The recorder belonged to the artist Stanley Twardowicz who knew Ray when Ray was 19 years old. Not documented in the video was the opening of a package of twine that was draped around the area where Ray was performing. To provide an ending for the video I recorded Rayʼs voice over the telephone a few days later. The inscribed bowling ball gift to Ray became the subject for the video, Ray Ball.

Ray Ball
  • April 1987
  • 6 min. 34 sec.Color
  • Taped: Greenlawn New York
  • Equipment: Mitsubishi VHS recorder, Elmo video camera, Akai video processor

This experimental recording was a result of a combination of my colorized video footage and electronically composed music. This is the bowling ball that was presented to Ray at the Heckscher Museum performance.

Ray at Swensen’s
  • May 4, 1987
  • 21 min. 44 sec.
  • Black and White
  • Taped: Swensenʼs Ice Cream Parlor, Huntington, New York
  • Equipment: Panasonic VHS recorder, Elmo video camera

After watching the previous two videos and a Heckscher Museum visit, Ray and I went to Swensenʼs Ice Cream Parlor in Huntington. This taping includes important segments on Ray’s early artworks, on his retrospective exhibition at The Nassau County Museum, and on his chance meeting with Edith Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens.