Monday, July 09, 2007

The Loop FAIR

The quality of the work in the fair was excellent, with overall production values very high, and the work generally strong even if I didn't particularly like it myself. The fair took place in the Hotel Catalonia Ramblas over a three-day period, and featured over 40 international galleries, each representing one (or two) video artist(s). It was a great atmosphere in which to see the work, with projection screens and projectors, flat-panel monitors and dvd players in the hotel rooms. The batallion of presenters and organizers became chummier, and more relaxed over the course of the fair. I won't name any names, but on the last "morning" (noon) that the rooms opend up as exhibition spaces, there was one that needed a real airing out-- an overwhelming hormonal scent of sex lingered there, causing me to cut short my viewing time.

My picks for Loop FAIR:

Janet Biggs (USA) "Airs Above the Ground" and Stephanie Lempert "Read My Lips" - represented by Claire Oliver Gallery (NYC)

Javier Téllez (Venezuela) "Oedipus Marshall" - represented by Figge Von Rosen Galerie (Cologne)

McCallum & Tarry (USA) "Exchange" - represented by Caren Golden Fine Art (NYC)

Now that video art has been accepted as a valid medium in the privledged world of the art market and museum, issues of ownership are being sorted out. One newer convention is that of the edition. Like printmakers, many videomakers are now creating editions of their works for sale. This raises the issue of the copy in the digital age. Copying a digital file is a very different enterprise than being able to make an infinite number of exact copies of a lithograph or an oil painting. MOMA curator Barbara London spoke of the sale of a video artwork as embodying the sale of a bundle of rights-- the right to own, exhibit, copy, archive, etc., each contract specific to that particular artist &/or video.

Also of longstanding interest to me is the history of moving-image art, with its rich tradition of screening-room and theater-based exhibtions. The type of social dynamic that grows out of this context makes it more than a simple back-drop for the viewing of art-film and art-video. There is also a political premise that runs through the history of (especially) video art, in that it has been used as a means to take control of the dominant storytelling medium in order to tell the stories not told by the establishment (whether they be network news or Hollywood). How these issues do or do not jive with the current developments of video in the art world is telling.

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