VIDEO ART FESTIVALS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN BASIN

The selection of video art that we enjoyed in the last edition of Art Madrid had the collaboration of 13 international festivals dedicated to video creation, experimental cinema and moving image. Mario Gutiérrez Cru, the director of the PROYECTOR video art platform, and the curator of the “Art Madrid-Proyector'20” action program, carried out an arduous task of selection and contact with these contests and exhibitions with the aim of offering a varied, enriching picture of the reality of global video creation. With the 13 international festivals invited, we had the unique opportunity to enjoy video art outside the usual exhibition circuits that this discipline occupies.

In addition to a prominent presence of Latin American exhibitions, the screening cycle also offered an interesting and different vision of initiatives from countries bathed in the Mediterranean. We refer to the selection made from PROYECTOR - Video Art Platform (Spain), Le Cube - Independent Art Room (Morocco), Oodaaq (France) and Video Art Miden (Greece).

Frame from "Acción 07_09_07#1/Fuego en la cabeza" (2007), by Olga Diego

PROYECTOR - Video art platform offered us the possibility of getting to know the video-creation work of the artists who starred in the “Art Madrid-Proyector’20” program and who intervened through presentations, performances, talks or meetings. With this screening cycle we were able to delve into another of the creative facets of these authors and get closer to new perspectives on their work.

At the booth D5 of the fair, we could watch these artworks: "Terra Nullius" (2016) by Patxi Araújo; "Bildung (the growth of the I)" (2019), by Abelardo Gil-Fournier; "Na vibración" (2012), by Lois Patiño; "Acción 07_09_07#1/Fuego en la cabeza" (2007), by Olga Diego; "Nocturno" (2009), by Fernando Baena; "Música con pelos y señales" (2011), by Arturo Moya; "Panasonia" (2014), by Eduardo Balanza; "Partidura" (2016), by Eunice Artur; "Dividir por la línea dos libros" (2013), by Mario Santamaría; "Dystopia #1" (2018), by Iván Puñal, and "Procedimientos" (2014), by Maia Navas.

Frame from "Sisyphe" (2019), by Driss Aroussi

Le Cube - Independent Art Room (Morocco) is designed as an exhibition, residence and research space focused on contemporary artistic practices. Its approach revolves around projects that raise social, cultural, and political issues, and encourages proposals that challenge history and stories.

The selection made from Le Cube counted on the following art pieces: "Sisyphe" (2019), by Driss Aroussi; "Collective gestures/ performing with Strauss" (2019), by Maria Hanl; "People's park" (2017), by Camille Dumond; "How to remove writings from bills using nail polish remover" (2019), by Soukaina Joual, and "Achayet" (2018), by Abdessamad El Montassir.

Frame from "Panorama" (2014), by Giancula Abbate

The Oodaaq Festival (France) was born in 2011 and every year offers an artistic trip through the city of Rennes. It brings together exhibitions, video art screenings, performances, installations in public spaces, conferences and round tables around nomadic and poetic images. The festival's program is divided between an international call for projects and a space open to local and international cultural structures.

Oodaaq was present Art Madrid with the artworks: "Window" (2013), by Aibhe Ni Bhriain; "Hajar" (2016), by Karou Calamy; "Black hole son" (2018), by Pete Burkeet; "Je suis allée" (2011), by Maria Ornaf; "Le park" (2015), by Randa Maroufi; "Please step out of the frame" (2018), by Karissa Hahn; "Field of infinity" (2018), by Guli Silberstein; "Panorama" (2014), by Giancula Abbate; "Untitled" (2013), by Christian Niccoli; and "Towards The Hague" (2016), by Sylvia Winkler & Stephan Koeperl.

Finally, we complete this Mediterranean set with Video Art Miden, from Greece. Video Art Miden is an independent organization for the exploration and promotion of video art. Founded by an independent group of Greek artists in 2005, it has been one of the earliest specialized video-art festivals in Greece, setting as basic aims to stimulate the creation of original video art, to help spread it and develop relevant research. Through collaborations and exchanges with major international festivals and organizations, it has been recognized as one of the most successful and interesting video art platforms internationally and as an important cultural exchange point for Greek and international video art. Miden screening programs have traveled in many cities of Greece and all over the world, and they are hosted by significant festivals, museums and institutions globally.

This festival presented two video cycles at Art Madrid: “The way it looks back at you”, curated by Gioula Papadopoulou and Maria Bourika, and “Anatomy of silence”, selected by Gioula Papadopoulou.

Frame from “Bestiari”, by Albert Merino

Cycle “The way it looks back at you”. The present is the future of the past. What happens if you are trapped in a weird and dystopian present future? The program presents 8 videos which deal with a hypnotic re-cycling of time, creating powerful images coming from a world of dreams –or from a present future.

  1. “Vortex”, Alexandre Alagôa (Portugal 2017)

  2. “Bestiari”, Albert Merino (Spain 2018)

  3. “Harvest”, Chaja Hertog & Nir Nadler (Netherlands 2013)

  4. “Intolerance”, Tessa Ojala (Finland 2015)

  5. “The Caller”, Muhammad Taymour (Egypt 2017)

  6. “Travel Notebooks: Bilbo”, Silvia de Gennaro (Bizkaia- Spain & Italy 2017)

  7. “Self-Portrait with Mother (Serve)”, Gray Swartzel (USA 2018)

  8. “Sunny Day”, Marius Krivičius & Andrej Polukord (Lithuania 2017)

Frame from “Ship of Fools”, by Babis Venetopoulos

“Anatomy of silence” is a selection of Greek video art, which gathers visual works that silently but sharply comment on human existence, through strong symbolic images and minimalistic actions. The selection features 9 video works by acclaimed and emerging video artists from Greece.

  1. “Ship of Fools”, Babis Venetopoulos (Greece 2017)

  2. “Through the WasteLand”, For Cancel (Takis Zerdevas, Zoi Pirini, Makis Faros) (Greece 2018)

  3. “The will”, Makis Faros (Greece 2018)

  4. “Fall”, Gioula Papadopoulou (Greece 2018)

  5. “Out my body”, Poly Kokkinia (Greece 2005)

  6. “Skin Shedding”, Alexandros Kaklamanos (Greece 2016)

  7. “Point”, Fotis Kolokithas (Greece 2017)

  8. “Reflex”, Yiannis Pappas (Germany 2017)

  9. “Popcorn Free Throws”, Anna Vasof (Austria 2018)

 

Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.