35 Years of V2_ I

In September of this year V2_ will be 35 years old. Usually we prefer to look forward into the future and not dwell too much on the achievements of the past. The past does matter though. It’s V2_’s history, it's a story of events and ideas about the future of art, and of an artistic involvement with technology.

V2_ was born officially in 1982. 35 years ago. Some of the people who work at V2_ in 2017 weren’t yet born in 1982, a large part of our public is younger. 1982: Blade Runner had just come out and was a far out science fiction movie. 1982: Philips released the very first Compact Disc. In 1982 only a very small minority of researchers and computer enthusiasts were using computer networks for communication.

V2 – at the time still without the underscore – started in a squat at Vughterstraat 234 in Den Bosch. The squat was named V234, but it was generally shortened to V2 by the users and the public, so that’s the name that stuck. On Saturday 18 September 1982 the squat opened its doors for an exhibition which also included videos. In the evening there was a performance by Mike von Bibikov, and concerts by  Zanzibar Twist, Zoo, and Nacht und Nebel. This otherwise titleless event is the first to publicly use the name V2.

I cannot find a list of the videos that were shown in the afternoon. Maybe no programme was printed, no painted poster made (all the posters in those early years were handpainted), or simply no picture was made of it. There is however a list from a video program in 1985 that gives you some idea of the sort of video's that V2_ showed, for instance: Club Moral, Danny Devos, and Jos Vulto.

Zanzibar Twist was a Dutch band that played a weird mix of mixture of experimental noise, free jazz improvisation and lofi punk – quite typical for its time, and maybe also typical for the artistic milieu of the artists that started V2_. (Think: Geniale Dilettanten, No-Wave). You can find their discography here. There’s some stuff by them on Youtube. I have no idea who Zoo was. Nacht und Nebel could very well be the Belgian synth-pop/new wave band of that name, or maybe not.

Mike von Bibikov finally was a agitprop poet-performer and agitator who was very present in the alternative scene of the early 1980s. He achieved some fame with his definitely not politcally correct ‘Reagering’ (a wordplay on ‘regering’, which is Dutch for ‘government), with which he tried to get a seat in the local government of Amsterdam. A couple of years ago Lebowski published a biography (in Dutch) about him written by Martijn Haas: Bibikov for President, Politics Poetry and Performance.

In the physical archive of V2_  there seems to be a video of this first night with the performance of Bibikov and the concert of Zanzibar Twist. At least, that’s what the label of the VHS-tape states. It has not been digitised. Amongst all those hundreds of still to digitise tapes it did not make the cut when we still had time and money to digitise the past.

No new technologies yet on this opening night – unless you’d want to count the video expo as such. But that would come.

In case you noted: our archive goes back a bit earlier. It includes a number of earlier events in both Den Bosch (and at Club Moral in Ghent). But these did not use the name V2 yet.

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