Within the Ruins of New York City: No Wave as a Paradigm of American Independent Cinema

Maria Teresa Soldani


This essay aims at exploring No Wave as a potential paradigm of American Independent Cinema by investigating where and when this body of works flourished: New York City from the mid-1970s. In such films, the decayed urban environment of Lower Manhattan had a key role in embodying a profilmic space, as well as the space of music and film practices. Performances with projections, films with re-enactments, art and TV shows were primarily created and played by No Wave musicians, filmmakers and artists together in Downtown NYC. They defined the first recognizable entity of a distinctive film culture.

The essay is developed in the following steps with reference to several case studies: 1) New York City, 1975-1980: Downtown VS Uptown; 2) The Downtown Music Scene; 3) The Scene in the Ruins as a Space at Multiple Speeds; 4) Living Forward the Present, Activating the Past; 5) No Wave as a Paradigm of American Independent Cinema.

In the ruined and rundown Lower East Side, No Wave represented a break-out phenomenon and became the outset of the American Independent Cinema. The main effect was the production of an independent pattern, based on DIY tools and media, which spread into a trans-local network. 


No Wave; American Independent Cinema; New York City; underground scenes; DIY culture

DOI: 10.6092/issn.2280-9481/7911


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Copyright (c) 2018 Maria Teresa Soldani

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