About the Crista Dahl Media Library & Archive
The Crista Dahl Media Library & Archive (CDMLA) houses Western Canada’s foremost repository of videotapes by artists and independent producers. Spanning over 40 years of production, its over 6000 video titles reflect the rich history of video art in Canada and abroad. The collection also includes related books, periodicals, directories, photographs, audio tapes, special collections, extensive equipment archive, producers’ documentation, and the records of the VIVO Media Arts Centre, documenting its activities since its 1973 incorporation as the Satellite Video Exchange Society. While the primary focus is on Canadian artists, artists and video centres from around the world are well represented.
In January 1973, 160 international alternative video producers came to Vancouver to take part in the MATRIX International Video Conference. The idea of a video exchange library was born there and made a reality a few months later with the incorporation of the Satellite Video Exchange Society (SVES). Known publicly as the Video Inn, it opened at 261 Powell Street in Vancouver. 76 videotapes that had been brought to MATRIX by the attending delegates made up its original collection. Over the years the Video Inn would evolve to include affordable equipment access, production and post-production facilities, public exhibitions and distribution services for artists and is now known as VIVO Media Arts Centre. The Library’s contemporary incarnation – the Crista Dahl Media Library & Archive – remains the heart of the organization.
Visit these online histories (“Preserving” produced by SVES with the assistance of the Canadian Heritage Information Network; “Opening” researched and written by Allison Collins for PAARC’s ArcLines series) to learn more.
1973: Incorporation of the legal entity and non-profit, the Satellite Video Exchange Society
1973: Video Inn opens at 261 Powell Street in a rooming house in the Downtown East Side
1979: Video Out Distribution is begun as a division of SVES
1987: Move to 1160 Hamilton Street in Yaletown warehouse district
1987: Change of name to Video In reflecting its change of location
1988: Move across the street to 1102 Homer Street
1993: Move to 1965 Main Street in Mount Pleasant. Video In adds “Studios” to its moniker
2007: Change of name to VIVO Media Arts Centre
2010: The library is named the Crista Dahl Media Library & Archive
2014: Move to 2625 Kaslo Street in Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood.
Crista Dahl has been active at VIVO since its inception as Video Inn, creating a unique cataloguing system for the print and tape archive. She is still the Archive’s most active volunteer, a member of the CDMLA Committee, and Co-Chair of VIVO’s Board. She is an artist in her own right and had an extensive retrospective at VIVO in 2013. Crista turns 80 in 2014. For obvious reasons, VIVO’s Library and Archive bears her name.
“It was easy for me to fold into arranging tapes and filing paper at Video Inn. When I had time off work I organized the tapes, print materials and even the kitchen! I was seriously multi-tasking at the time – raising four kids as a single mother, work, art – so my time at Video Inn was intermittent. Later on when I was living there it was easier to get serious work done. Someone at Video Inn nicknamed me “Mother of Tedium”, for my capacity to spend a lot of time testing out different methods of organizing tapes and labelling everything in sight! I don’t have a practice without archiving. There is nothing that I have done since I moved to Vancouver that does not reflect archiving information in some way.”
VIVO Media Arts Centre is a member of the British Columbia Museums Association, Audio/Visual Heritage Association of British Columbia, Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres (PAARC), Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMAA).