Loop Barcelona was divided into two sections: the festival and the fair.
The FESTIVAL was a massive, sprawling, chaotic organism.
Time and time again, I set out with high hopes, but low expectations. Oftentimes the venue was closed, other times it was open but had no video art, and when the advertised time and place came together in an actual event, the presentation was mediocre to poor. I kept dreaming about Peter Kubelka's Invisible Cinema.
Nevertheless, there were jewels to be had:
1. Monserrat Soto "Lugar de Silencios"(Barcelona) at Centre D'Art Santa Mónica:
The exterior setting of several rooms of an old concrete structure going to ruin is rear-projected onto an array of 7 or 8 large screens. This is a place being reclaimed by the foliage, a place receeding from the physical upkeep, and thus consciousness, of mankind. The poet Dionisio Cañas is heard and/or seen wandering from room to room, screen to screen, depicted in a process of ruminating and composing outloud, to himself.
This ground-floor installation by Barcelona artist Monserrat Soto blew away the other work on view at the art center-- other work brought in from the states and the UK. This is an interesting phenomenon I have noticed back at San Antonio's Art Pace, where cycles of three residents create new work for exhibition. One is always regional (from Texas), one national (from the States), and one international. Whenever the regional artist is from San Antonio, you can be sure that they are going to labor 10 times harder than anyone else, creating work that will give the work of the visitors a run for its money.
2. A Breif History of the Video Data Bank (Chicago) at the MACBA auditorium:
Brigid Reagan, VDB distribution manager, presented an overview of the history of the Video Data Bank with a focus on the main themes and genres in the collection. The VDB is a resource close to my heart. I took great advantage of my privledge to browse and screen work at the VDB when I was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, home to the collection. This program positively affirmed the foundations of my education in experimental moving image practice.
Early Interviews with Underrepresented Female Artists visiting SAIC (Lee Krasner interview)
Early Video and the Womens' Movement (Martha Rossler - Semiotics of the Kitchen)
Video as Activism (Videofreex)
Filmmakers Who Made the Move to Video (John Smith - Girl Chewing Gum)
Mastering the Technology (Paul Garrin - Free Society)
the 1990's (Miranda July - The Amaturist)
Diary Video (George Kuchar - Weather Diary)
Scratch/Found-Footage (Animal Charm - Stuffing)
Tributes and Remakes of Earlier Video (Anne McGuire - After Wegman)
Remix of Classic Films (Nicholas Provost - Papillion d'Amour)
New Work from Europe & the Middle East (Hester Scheurwater - Mama)
Visit the VDB website to see samples of all of these videos, and more!
3. STRIP Film Festival (Paris) presentation
Though riddled with severe technical difficulties, the presentation by Marc Audí and Marianne of STRIP Film Festival featured some work that I was really happy to see: "Money" by Henry Hills (NYC), and "Descent" and "Mi Casa, Su Casa" by Pierre Reimer.
4. Jeremy Shaw "Best Minds" (Vancouver) at Galeria Dels Ángels
On exhibit were two sublime video projections of imagery shot at punk shows. The super slow-motion made it possible to observe each scene in great detail. The first was of group of young men in the mosh pit, thrashing their bodies around with facial expressions full of rage. The second documented an altercation between three young women which evolves into a fist fight. I was transported beyond simple observation, though the warp of time and into the projected psyches of the individuals in the work.
5. Interancia Videobrasil 2006-2007 at El Mercado Del Borne
6. Videotape Hong Kong at Red03
7. "Vive la Mort"at the Fundació Suñol, video art from the collection of Marc & Josée Gensollen.
The perspective of the private collector is what interested me most. The theme of the body is what distinguished this group of videos. Some of them were documents of the body in action, such as Carlos Amorales' (Mexico) "Interim," a tight close-up of two masked wrestlers head-to-head against a white backdrop, and João Onofre's (Portugal) "Sin Titulo" which used digital tools to reorient two falling bodies to work against gravity and fall against the sides of the frame, repetitively, making a strong rhythm.
Though not documentary in the traditional sense, there were some videos that could be categorized as documentary for their use of straight recordings of small events in the world. "Uomo Duomi" by Anri Sala (Albania) was recorded in a church frequented by tour groups and featured a tripod shot of an old man sitting in a pew, alternately praying and sleeping. "Coffee" by Hand Op de Beck (Belgium) used the same technique to observe and capture the scene of an elderly couple having coffee at a restaurant.
8. Johanna Billing at Galeria Joan Prats
9. China Vision - Yang Zhenshong at Holmes Place Balmes Fitness Club, and Miao Xiaochun at Keihl's Since 1851