LET'S MAKE ART HISTORY LIKEWISE VISUAL

The approach to art is made from the sensory experience. Art is seen, heard, touched... Based on this experience through the senses, the classification of artistic disciplines has been historically addressed: visual arts, music, dance or theatre. But these categories present problems when the work feeds on two different techniques giving rise to hybrid creations, like the ones which incorporate sound and image, intervention and video, painting and screens, and an infinite number of combinations that enrich the current panorama of contemporary production.

Pablo Picasso, “Femme dans un fauteuil”, 1929. Museu colecçião Berardo, Lisboa. © Sucession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP. Madrid 2019

The visual burden of this approach to art is undeniable. But when we pass from pure experience to academic study, we face a knowledge always expressed in writing where the object of analysis is separated from its tangible reality and is transformed into an abstract and incorporeal idea to discuss and comment on. Almost all branches of knowledge have included a particular chapter dedicated, we could almost say, to self-analysis and self-evaluation. The development of a methodology for each field is a sign that there is a recognised and autonomous area of study, as is the case with art.

Alfred. H. Barr Jr., Diagram of stylistic evolution of art from 1980 to 1935, cover of “Cubism and Abstract Art”. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1936. Archivo Lafuente

The protagonists of the sector themselves have repeatedly questioned how art history has been approached, from academicism and theoretical narrative. Therefore, many of them have proposed alternative ways of exposing that knowledge with a greater visual load, paying homage to the works that make up the evolution of artistic creation.

These days the Juan March Foundation hosts the exhibition "Genealogies of art, or the history of art as visual art", in which we can see an interpretation of the famous diagram that Alfred H. Barr, Jr., that he proposed for the cover of the catalogue "Cubism and Abstract Art ”(1936) to explain the stylistic evolution of art from 1890 to 1935. This curator, who founded in 1929 of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) and was also its first director, wanted to synthesise in a graphic the significant landmarks of the transition art towards the s. XX to make it easy to assimilate at a glance.

Vasili Kandinsky, “Landscape with Two Poplars”, 1912, © Arthur Jerome Eddy Memorial Collection (via artic.edu)

On this scheme, the exhibition is presented as a documentary sample, with 350 works and more than 100 documents that mark the diagram in each of its historical marks. Works by avant-garde artists such as Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Kazimir Malévich, César Domela, Francis Picabia, Robert Delaunay and Vasili Kandinsky, among others are collected. In addition, there are some works that were present in Barr's original exhibition, such as “Landscape with Two Poplars”, 1912, by Vasili Kandinsky and “Femme dans un fauteuil”, 1929, by Pablo Picasso.

 

Thirteen years have passed since its beginnings, and in all this time the Video Art Festival PROYECTOR has grown and consolidated its position as an essential event in this discipline. Since its inception, the initiative has tried to give visibility to a discipline that has always been relegated to the background in the usual exhibition circuits. Although video creation is not new, since it emerged by its own in the 60s of last century, the way to get to know it and enjoy it has not always been easy. On many occasions, the exhibitions only included a few isolated pieces within the main route, as if the video was the anecdotal contribution to the whole. However, our daily lives are invaded by moving images, and there is a paradox that video art, despite being a format of artistic expression very much in tune with the habits of today's society, remains a minority discipline

Frame from “Hel City”, by Gregorio Méndez Sáez, 2019

To some extent, PROYECTOR was born to reverse this situation, to value video as a creative format and to offer a wide, itinerant space to host a multitude of proposals, coming from inside and outside our borders. In this time, the growth of the festival has led it to travel the world, but also, to be a benchmark that each year arouses more interest. In the open call to receive proposals, they reach almost half a thousand, and a hundred works selected by the jury are a representative sample of different ways of understanding video creation, with pieces mainly from Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

In turn, PROYECTOR wants to be more than a video showcase and offers a large program with talks, workshops, masterclasses, meetings with artists, visits and concerts. A complete experience that always has the moving image as a backdrop.

El Instante Francisco Ruiz de Infante. El bosque que se mueve (errores de medida)

In this evolution, another circumstance stands out: video is a creative format that has its own codes, but it is also one of the disciplines most open to artistic hybridization and the widening of uses. The video may, therefore, be the genuine idea of an author who conceives an autonomous project to be carried out in this format, but it can also be the complementary result of an action or the documentary record of a previous performance being recorded to guarantee its survival. The versatility of the moving image and the potential that it has acquired in recent years allows us today to speak of numerous branches of art that focus on the fusion of languages and the integration of techniques and methodologies from other sectors, and in many of them, the video is still a cornerstone. So it is with technological art, interactive sound art, performance recording, the transformation from big data to image, artificial intelligence, and a long etcetera. Precisely for this reason, PROYECTOR offers a panoramic vision of this reality, with an extremely interesting program that plays with the variety and wealth of proposals.

Frame from “Herdança”, by Thiago Rocha Pitta, 2007

The 2020 edition will run from September 9th to 20th. As usual, the program displays in various venues throughout the city of Madrid, each of which will house a small section of the activities. This year the festival will count with the collaboration of the Casa Árabe, White Lab, Cruce, El Instante Fundación, ¡ésta es una PLAZA!, Extensión AVAM (Matadero Madrid), Institut Français de Madrid, Medialab Prado, Quinta del Sordo, Sala Alcalá 31, Sala El Águila, Secuencia de Inútiles and White Lab, in addition to the collaboration of the INELCOM Collection and the video art collection of Teresa Sapey.

The festival is also the ideal place to articulate the cultural fabric, since it involves numerous professionals in the sector, from curators to creators, from centres managers to critics and teachers. The 2020 program also has the collaboration of the FUSO Festival and the Museo Reina Sofía, which are providing some of their pieces for the exhibition.

In short, an appointment that lovers of contemporary art should not miss and that promises many novelties in this 13th edition.