THE BEGINNINGS OF VIDEO ART

The discipline of the video has its origins in the 60s, a time when domestic television became popular and the presence of the image on the screen spread throughout Western society. By that moment, there was, not just a crisis of a social model within the great economic powers of the moment, whose foundations of identity were weak and vulnerable, despite having a solid capitalist base; but also a crisis of the individual and his role in a context of growing influence of communications. Thus, the 60s gave way to some great collective demands, in addition to new forms of expression outside the prevailing orthodoxy. It is the birth of graffiti, of performative art, the break with post-war classicism, the rise of a new prosperous and promising awakening that did not hide the vestiges of a deep social wound dominated by the lack of solidarity, the anti-communist conflicts and the unstoppable anxieties of freedom.

Nam June Paik. Electric highway

The irruption of an element such as the screen in a context still used to traditional communication was a turning point in the evolution of later art. The impact of the television medium prompted deep reflections in the creators, who began to use the object itself as a recurrent ingredient in their creative proposals. Then, topics such as dehumanization, isolation, lack of solidarity, aesthetic impositions, the creation of fashion streams... began to flood the contemporary art scene for new generation artists immersed in the maelstrom of this change of habits. The screen as the axis of creation, the invasion of the media and the alienation of the individual staged many pieces at the beginning of the 70s.

Bill Viola's frames

But a new creative trend also opened up, a new audiovisual discipline that saw video as an evolved form of expression, regardless of the consolidated film industry, reserved for great speeches, or the expansive television production, with content more friendly and digestible to the domestic sphere. Video art established as an alternative space for experimentation with traditional techniques, with a yet unknown versatility... This discipline found easy accommodation among other trends of the time such as fluxus art, happening, or conceptual art. This was the main line of work of leading authors as the Korean Nam June Paik or the German Wolf Vostell, both creators immersed in an insatiable exploration that led them to test different techniques and themes.

Video installation of Jaume Plensa in Chicago

Today video art has its own label, different from that of experimental video, video installation or video action. We are facing a particular trend, increasingly tempting and suggestive that remains an expressive refuge for artists who do not want to be confined in traditional formats and who need to give free rein to a discourse intimately connected with our time. The image continues to play a crucial role in the communication of art, and video creation attracts more and more public interested in a new language, more refined and elegant.

 

The CEART opens this Thursday, November 14th in the room A an exhibition dedicated to this master of photography, which will be open to the public until February 9th. The show includes one of the artist's latest projects, focused on the hard work carried out by the miners of Serra Pelada, an open gold mine in the heart of Brazil where employees daily risked their lives.

Immigration, poverty, marginal life, slave labour, man's relationship with the land, the use of natural resources... are issues that have always fascinated Salgado. From the beginning of his career as a photographer, his work has opted to give visibility to the most disadvantaged groups and to create with his images a vivid and impressive visual story without fakes. With a raw black and white, this author's work transits between photo-reportage and naturalistic photography.

And the idea that permeates all his work is human dignity. Salgado portrays employees, miners and gatherers from a purely humanistic approach that wants to value their integrity, their strength and their resilience.

“If you photograph a human, so that he is not represented in a noble way, there is no reason to take the picture. That is my way of seeing things.”

Salgado entered this discipline long after completing his studies in economics between Brazil and the United States, and a doctorate in statistics in France. But in 1973 his life took a turn, and he decided to start his career as a photographer. He achieved to work at the Gamma Agency and Magnum Photos for more than 15 years until in 1994 he founded his own agency “Amazonas Imagen”.

With the “Gold” project, the photographer portrays a harsh reality that takes place in the Serra Pelada mine, a name given to a totally devastated and anarchically excavated mining enclave, the world's largest open-pit gold mine, through which more than 50,000 people have passed. In the heat of the legends about the mysterious “El Dorado”, the enthusiasm for this precious metal led to the development of strenuous exploitation practices for the workers and to originate tales of grief and glory, of human victory and defeat between the soil, the tunnels and the cargo baskets.

The CEART exhibition brings together Salgado's full portfolio in his characteristical black and white and large-format photographs that leave no one indifferent.