COLLECTING VIDEO ART: A PERSONAL UTOPIA

Art Madrid'19 focuses its activities program on a discipline that arouses both fascination and curiosity: video art. Although the adjective "innovator" does not sit well with a path of evolution and creative growth of something more than half a century, the truth is that this artistic branch still poses numerous challenges for art lovers, and is far from being something usual and common in the main exhibition circuits.

In spite of this, the moving image has true devotees who have focused on knowing the artists and understanding a language that can be both close and complex at the same time. The world of media offers infinite possibilities and is gradually gaining supporters, this mission is passionately entrusted to the video art platform PROYECTOR, which has been organizing a festival dedicated exclusively to this discipline for more than a decade.

Frame from "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This", by Carlos Aires, 2016

To contribute to this work and make this art field known to the public, Art Madrid's program of activities includes three excellent projection cycles curated by PROYECTOR, with works by the leading video art artists of our time, including the exceptional Teresa Sapey collection. Thus, on Thursday 21, Friday 22 and Saturday of 23 February, the auditorium of the Sala Alcalá 31 becomes a mandatory date to enter this addictive and vibrant field with three selected proposals titled "Woman as subject of the video art","From the present body to the performance body’’ and ‘’Cities". These cycles are an opportunity to get to know the work of Candice Breitz, Hussein Chalayan, Paula Lafuente, Carlos Llavata, Francesca Fini, Gianluca Abbate, Márcia Beatriz Granero, Daniel Lo Iacono, Mehdi-Georges Lahlou or Katherinne Fiedler, these being only some of them.

Cristina Garrido, "#JWIITMTESDSA? (Just what is it that makes today's exhibitions so different, so appealing?)" screening, 2015.

The Art Madrid-PROJECTOR'19 program also hosts conversations with professionals and artists in which, from different perspectives, a very particular approach will be presented to the international video art scene. These days of debate and reflection are the ideal framework to address some major issues that this discipline poses, starting with the collection of audiovisual pieces, which we can discuss with the famous collector specialized in video art Teresa Sapey.

Indeed, the fact of collecting is a human attitude that hides emotions, feelings and passions that reveal much about who is behind. Usually, when visiting a collection we ask ourselves questions such as why or when, a search for reasons and references that ease our understanding. With video art, this curiosity is, if possible, even more profound, because this field is not understood by the naked eye, it requires attention and time and it reveals, possibly with greater precision, the possessor’ intimacies, the contrasts of his personality. But what leads us to collect video art and what can it offer us?

Eugenio Ampudia, "Dónde dormir 5 (Palau)", 2015, "Dónde Dormir" series, 2008-15.

In the quest of getting closer to understanding video art collecting we have had the opportunity to interview Teresa Sapey, who revealed to us her experience as a collector of "art in movement".

To what point do life and collection merge? What is a collection to you?

In theory, the word "collection" can be used when possessing beyond five elements of the same family. I would prefer not to define myself as a collector because there are collectors who have hundreds of pieces, so I prefer to define myself as an art lover that occasionally, and when the budget allows it, buys a piece. I buy mostly for personal and hedonistic reasons more than to show-off or social reasons.

The pieces of video art that we have, at first were going to be a fundamental part of the architecture studio. I have always dreamed of having a studio with a room where the client arrived and before meeting us as a studio, saw a very white and minimal table with the projection of a key piece by Marina Abramovic: herself with a skeleton on top. This image must have been the first contact between life and death, between dressed and nude, very metaphorical just as our work, full and empty, project and not project. Things have not happened this way, but a big part of the studio is decorated with video art pieces.

Marina Abramovic, "Nude with Skeleton", Teresa Sapey collection (4/5 edition), 2002-05.

Appealing to the transformative ability of art, could you mention any work in the collection that has changed your way of being and collecting?

Without a doubt, I have to say when I discovered Charles Sandison, his way of dealing with art and using the bible in real time, his osmosis to communicate with the observer, a work of art is always designed to be looked at and admired. In Charles Sandison I noticed a penetration between artist and observer. It completely changed my way of living art and seeing it. From that moment I understood that for me in our 21st century, art had gained the fourth dimension that did not exist before, the artist always sought to represent the fourth dimension and now he has finally achieved it.

Collecting video art may seem unusual and minority, however, it is a practice that is slowly reaffirmed; and it could not be otherwise, if we think about the age of information in which we are immersed, a time where everything could be reduced to the spectrum of images and appearances that video art tries to account for.

Bill Viola, image of "Mery", video installation at St Paul’s Cathedral, 2016.

After these words by Sapey, we can reflect that collecting responds to "this avid and ambitious desire of possessing the object for the benefit of the owner, or even the viewer, is one of the most original features of the art of Western civilization" (Mythological, 1971). These words from the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss reveal one of the most complex and interesting aspects of the contemporary individual: the way in which he lives and looks at images, and the passionate impulse that he feels almost immediately by possessing them and owning them forever.

This property ostentation goes back especially to the Renaissance when artistic images were not only an instrument of knowledge but also of possession, wealth and political propaganda. Likewise, this obsession for the artistic object continues to be inherent in the society of our time and, in spite of being aware of the many possibilities that can drive the contemporary collector, we will focus on that attentive and enthusiastic vision of art, abandoning any investor and traditionalist view, we will focus in definitive, on the perspective of the passionate collector.

Isidro Varcárcel Medina, "Programación variada" video installation, 2016.

José María de Francisco and Luis Caballero, in the prologue of their exemplary text Conversations with contemporary art collectors (Madrid, 2018), define the collection of contemporary art as "a phenomenon in which three forces from three ancestral domains of human desires and needs embodied in Greek mythology by the three graces, daughters of Zeus: beauty (Algaea), social habit (Eufrosine) and material wealth (Talia). "These three virtues are the background decisions of conceiving a collection, which in many cases means a relationship of analogy with the process of life of each collector or lover of contemporary art. It would be therefore licit to speak of life and collection as a whole because what does the passionate collector look for in each new acquisition if not expanding the mental gaze of the reality that surrounds him. Thus, the passionate collector will be interested in those pieces that awaken in him a feeling or an emotion that remained dormant in his interior and that is suddenly activated, discovering a new corner of his essence that shapes his perception of the world and reaffirms his existence as an individual. And it is precisely in that encounter with the work when the phenomenon of desire occurs that leads to wanting possession of it and adding it to the rest of a collection of thoughts that end up weaving an intimate and organic story that describes its passage throw life.

In this sense it seems to evoke one of the most interesting aspects of the ontology of art in any of its stages: the meaning that the author projects in his work and the multiple interpretations and meanings that all those who look at experiences while looking at it, a cycle that seems to close completely with the figure of the collector, which in a certain way means a last glance.

 

The cultural agenda gradually recovers after the health-crisis halt and art lovers are eager to enjoy the rich cultural offer that the different spaces and museums throughout our geography have to offer. In addition, one must remember that these centres have made an enormous effort to adapt to the demands that the new situation imposes and have created abundant online-accessible content to overcome confinement. We bring you a selection of content that can be visited both in person and through the web. There is no excuse for not enjoying contemporary art again.

Olafur Eliasson, “En la vida real (In real life)”, 2019

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao continues with its exhibition dedicated to Olafur Eliasson and offers numerous resources to understand not only the exhibition but also the work of the centre in the assembly and installation process. The website allows us to expand content with interviews with the artist, the download of the audio guide and the vision of the curator Lucía Aguirre, who offers us different video-pills on the pieces in the exhibition.

"Olafur Eliasson: in real life" brings together a part of this artist's work since 1990 through sculptures, photographs, paintings and installations that play with reflections and colours. Likewise, the integration of elements such as moss, water, ice, fog... put the visitor in a situation that confuses the senses and tries to challenge the way we perceive our environment and move in it.

Regina de Miguel, “Isla Decepción”, 2017

The Botín Centre in Santander hosts the exhibition "Collecting processes: 25 years of Itineraries" which brings together the work of 25 of the 210 scholarship recipients who, to date, have enjoyed the Botín Foundation Plastic Arts Scholarship, started in 1993. With the works Lara Almárcegui, Basma Alsharif, Leonor Antunes, Javier Arce, Erick Beltrán, David Bestué, Bleda and Rosa, Nuno Cera, Patricia Dauder, Patricia Esquivias, Karlos Gil, Carlos Irijalba, Adrià Julià, Juan López, Rogelio López Cuenca, Renata Lucas, Mateo Maté, Jorge Méndez Blake, Regina de Miguel, Leticia Ramos, Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Teresa Solar Abboud, Leonor Serrano Rivas, Jorge Yeregui, David Zink-Yi, the exhibition is a good example of up-to-date and young contemporary art contributed by artists with very diverse profiles.

Clemente Bernad. Series “Ante el umbral”, Madrid, 2020

The Reina Sofía Museum wanted to create a visual chronicle of what the confinement and the tragic numbers of infected and deceased have meant for the lives of many of us: a tale of pain, nostalgia and uncertainty made by the photographer Clemente Bernad. This exhibition, curated by Jorge Moreno Andrés, is entitled “Before the threshold”, a title that expresses the strange sensation that occurs when faced with something new and unknown, something that we cannot control or avoid, and that we all must go through. The alteration imposed on our lives unexpectedly is reflected in the streets, transformed into places of solitude and abandonment where life has been paralysed.

Mario Merz / No title, Triplo Igloo, 1984 MAXXI Collection

At the IVAM, the exhibition "What is our home?" brings together works from the IVAM collection and the MAXXI centre in Rome to propose a reflection on the space we inhabit seen from a personal and social perspective. It is about investigating the value that these spaces have as a home or refuge, as well as part of a city or community.

The exhibition, curated by José Miguel G. Cortés, also wants to delve into the feeling of those who feel like foreigners anywhere, because they do not identify with the habits or customs of the society, they do not fit into these social patterns, and home becomes the only shelter space that can adapt to their identity needs.

Martha Rosler, frame from “Backyard Economy I-II”, 1974 © Courtesy of Martha Rosler, 2020

Es Baluard Museu is committed to video creation and performance and hosts the monographic exhibition “Martha Rosler. How do we get there from here?” dedicated to this New York artist who pioneered the use of video as a mechanism for social and political analysis. This exhibition includes various works, from video to photography and several publications, which synthesise her main lines of discourse. Her concern for public policies and the social equality of women has led her to actively participate in numerous social movements in La Havana, New York, Mexico DC or Barcelona, and these experiences are present in one way or another in her work.

With the curatorship of Inma Prieto, a selection has been made within the abundant production of this artist, which presents one of the most coherent careers in towards-the-new-Millenium contemporary art.

Image from file, via meiac.es/turbulence/archive/acceso.html

The MEIAC - Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo, host the works of the prestigious international digital art archive "Turbulence", a platform dedicated to network and hybrid art. In view of the inevitable closure of this institution, the MEIAC has offered to host all this valuable content collected since 1996. The uploading of the file also served as an opportunity to restore numerous pieces and convert formats so that files that had become obsolete remain readable by new systems. A huge job of conservation and updating that can be enjoyed online today. The archive is made up of hundreds of digital works from around the world that can now be visited remotely.