VIDEO ART LOOKING AT THE SEA: THE NETHERLANDS AND PORTUGAL

We finish our review of the screenings cycle that took place during the “Art Madrid-Proyector'20” program with the BUT Film Festival (Netherlands) and the three Portuguese proposals of InShadow, Loop.Lisboa and FUSO - Lisbon Annual Festival of International Video Art.

While FUSO and Loop are exclusively dedicated to video creation and film proposals, InShadow and BUT host more cross-cutting initiatives where different disciplines are worked on or they give way to more experimental and underground works. For Art Madrid, Loop and FUSO came up with a joint proposal around the work of the artist João Cristóvão Leitão.

The InShadow festival presents the best of transdisciplinary artistic creation in the areas of video dance, documentary, performance, exhibitions and installations. Its 11th edition was held at a dozen venues in the city of Lisbon: Marioneta Museum, Teatro do Bairro, Portuguese Cinematheque, Junior Cinematheque, Santa Catarina Space, Mercês Cultural Center, Marvila Library, Appleton Square, FBAUL Cistern, Ler Devagar, Gallery Otoco and Fnac Chiado, with various proposals and unpredictable encounters between cinema, dance and technology.

The artworks selected by InShadow for Art Madrid were: "Complex of shadow", by João Afonso Vaz; "Mujer vacío", by Max Larruy y Berta Blanca T. Ivanow; "Excuse my dust", by Maria Stella Andreacchio, Stefano Croci & Agata Torelli; "Makyō", by Brian Imakura; "The act of breathing", by Hana Yamazaki; "Bubblegum", by Ryan Renshaw; "Walls of limerick", by Arturo Bandinelli; "Alta", by Antti Ahokoivu; "Sculpt the motion", by Devis Venturelli, and "Brute", by Cass Mortimer Eipper.

Frame from "Mujer vacío", by Max Larruy & Berta Blanca T. Ivanow

BUT Film Festival is one of the most alternative projects on the international scene and is exclusively dedicated to B series films, Underground and Trash Films. The organisers announce that during the five days of the festival, there will be an extra dose of films full of violence, absurdity, creativity and pettiness.

They warn that they are looking for visitors who... : • Aren't likely to scream at the sight of blood! • Will be able to admire creativity to absurd extremes! • Like to combine a cozy atmosphere with watching films!

BUT participated in Art Madrid with the following artworks: "Zure Zult" (2016), by Angella Lipskaya; "Birds of a Feather" (2019), by Dann Parry; "L'ours noir" (2016), by Méryl Fortunat-Rossi & Xavier Seron; "Fabulous friendly cooking" (2018), by Nicky Heijmen & Tobias Mathijsen; "Bravure" (2018), by Donato Sansone; "Ringo Rocket Star and his song for Yuri Gagarin" (2019), by Rene Nuijens; "The Scuzzies" (2019), by Jimmy Screamer Clauz.

Frame from "Birds of a Feather" (2019), by Dann Parry

Loops.Lisboa is an annual exhibition presented by Festival Temps d’Images Lisboa and the National Museum of Contemporary Art since 2014, it is a unique showcase exploring the loop as an essential form of the language of film and video art. Starting in 2020, it becomes part of and international network dedicated to the form the Loop. The network includes: Mario Gutiérrez Cru (Festival Proyector, Madrid - Spain); Sandra Lischi (Onda Video, Pisa - Italy); Tom Van Vliet (WWVF, Amsterdam - The Netherlands); Cine Esquema Novo collective (Porto Alegre - Brazil) and Irit Batsry and Alisson Avila Loops.Lisboa/Festival Temps D'Images (Lisbon - Portugal).

FUSO was created in 2009, as the only festival with an ongoing national and international video art program in Lisbon. FUSO showcases in free outdoor projections, at Lisbon’s museum cloisters, video programs that are selected and presented exclusively for the festival by national and international curators. In addition to the proposed programs, each year FUSO also honours one or more artists who are historically and fundamentally important in video art. One of the main aspects of FUSO is the promotion of new national creations through an annual Open Call contest open to Portuguese artists or foreign artists living in Portugal

Fotograma de "Ulysses' Portrait

“Ulysses’ Portrait” by João Cristóvão Leitão (Loops.Lisboa Award, 2015).

The video is part of a trilogy that includes Irineu’s Portrait and Mónica’s Portrait, Jury’s Award and Audience Award, FUSO: Anual de Vídeo Arte Internacional de Lisboa.

"Ulysses’ Portrait" is a giddy journey through time and through literature. A journey where Ulysses is entrapped by the mechanism that is the loop, which operates at a narrative level, at a spatio-temporal level (given the use of a single sequence shot) and at a visual level (by means of the constant reuse of the same imagery material). After all, "Ulysses’ Portrait" is nothing more than an act of questioning human identity when confronting it with the possibility of time’s circularity and with its objective and subjective durations. Ulysses is Ulysses. However, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t, simultaneously, Cervantes, Pierre Menard, Alexander the Great, Caesar, Homer, Tchekhov, Nietzsche, Borges and, undoubtedly, myself as well.

João Cristóvão Leitão earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre (Dramaturgy) at the Lisbon Theatre and Film School and a Master’s degree in Multimedia Art at the School of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon (FBAUL/CGD Academic Merit Award). Currently acquiring a PhD in Fine Arts by the same institution, researching subjects related to the practices of expanded cinema and to the literary and philosophical universes of Jorge Luis Borges. Also obtained training from Guillaume de Oliveira (2013) of the Oskar & Gaspar collective.

As a creator, he develops performance, video art and installation projects, which have been displayed around the world (Austria, Brazil, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Peru and Portugal) and have been awarded several times.

 

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.