Video and digital art is nothing new, but if the exhibitions at the recent divafair. nyc are any indication, it is about get real brand new. Boasting new artists from the United States, Taiwan, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, China, Japan, Spain, and God knows where else, the work was nothing short of complete provocative and breathtaking. As innovative as the work was, the future of digital video art can only go more sideways, as emerging artist continue to push their respective envelopes in ways that can only be described as genre-shattering.
I reviewed the entire exhibition, but due to the depth and breadth of the works offered, urban universe will focus on the works of the 4 artists that we felt were the crème de la crème of all the gathered in NYC at the Embassy Suites 3/9-3/12/06. As part of a 5-city international tour that will also touch down in Cologne, Brussels, Paris and Taipei, divafair is at the cutting edge of this artform, and is among the world’s leaders in assembling such a diverse set of talent from around the globe. For more info, take a look at divafair.com.
Chen Chieh-Jen, Bade Area, 2005,
Exhibited at: 2006 DIVAfair, NYC; 2005 Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan
Chen Chieh-Jen’s digitally altered black and white photographs of torture scenes are among some of the most disturbing you will see in the medium. Bearing a distinct political bent focused on calling attention to the foot that is still on Taiwan’s neck, Chen’s attitude is vividly captured in this scary piece, Bade Area, that focuses on a lone man who has happened to be left alone after what we can presume was some pretty bad physical treatment. His work acts as commentary on the continued colonization of Taiwan and the gaze of the oppressor represented by the People’s Republic of China.
In his recent film work he links physical torture scenes of the body in pain with that of economic strangulation of a nation in the age of globalization.
Chen (born in 1960, lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan) creates primarily in the forms of digital imaging and video installation. His artwork reexamines the narrative form and meaning of images through a dialectic representation of image/power, photographer/subject, memory/history, reality/artifice and blending/variation, while exploring new possibilities for images and for narrative. In this manner, Chen delves deeply into people and communities on the margins of contemporary life, in an attempt to convey their living experiences and inner spiritual states.
Chen’s works have been exhibited at the Venice Biennale (2005, 1999), the Sao Paulo Biennial (1998), the Biennale de Lyon (2000), the Kwangju Art Biennial (2000), the Taipei Biennial (1998, 2002, 2004), the Shanghai Biennial (2004) and the Fukuoka Triennial (2005), the Sydney Biennial (2006), as well as photography festivals in Spain and Portugal (Lisbon), film festivals in London and Vancouver (Canada).
Hung Tung-Lu, Nirvana, 2002
Laser print, Lenticular Light-Box
Exhibited at: DIVAfair, NYC 2006
Hung Tung-Lu is the only Taiwanese artist who has done an Absolut ad. Working with lenticulars, Hung creates futuristic scenes that combine Manga images with traditional Chinese temples. In the Nirvana series, he imagines an idyllic life in the future, which is a feature of much contemporary Taiwanese art. The nostalgia for the past is overshadowed by an incredible desire for a brighter tomorrow.
About Chi-Wen Gallery, Taipei:
Chi-wen Gallery is founded by Joanne Chi-Wen Huang. Originally established in July 2004 as Taipei MOMA, the gallery officially changed its name to Chi-Wen Gallery in January 2006. Chi-Wen Gallery is the premiere gallery in Taiwan showing the best of contemporary Taiwanese art. The gallery has its pulse on today’s art while looking to tomorrow and represents artists whose work continues to grow in historical importance. Many of these artists use digital media such as Chen Chieh-Jen, Hung Tung-Lu, Tsui Kuang-Yu, Peng Hung-Chih, Wu Tien-Chang and Yuan Goang-Ming.
Mariana Vassileva, Definition,
Exhibited at: DIVAfair, NYC 2006
At first glance, this video would appear to be as simple as someone drunk pissing in the snow. This could not be further from the truth, although, my bet is on the piss. “The video is immersed in existential yearning for the expanses of time and space. Out of the white landscape of snow comes a pair of bustling feet. The term DEFINITION appears, written is golden fluid in the snow,” reads the official notes from the DNA gallery notes. Whether you believe in existentialism, you have to love the brazenness of the artist to make a piece about pissing in the snow. Existentialism has nothing to do with definition, as it is chiefly concerned with the fact of mere existence. Definition deals more with attempting to accurately describe what is conveyed from the image or concept itself. However, the starkness of the yellow in the snow lets the viewer recognize immediately that the definition is the essence of the existent. Got that?
About DNA (die neue aktionsgalerie) Gallery:
DNA, founded in 2001, is dedicated to promoting contemporary art. It focuses primarily on Berlin based international artists. The program accommodates a wide range of artistic media (painting, sculpture, video, installation and drawing), presented via innovative, interactive, interdisciplinary and multimedia projects. DNA has an international character, collaborating regularly with numerous galleries and institutions outside Germany. A crucial factor is the gallery’s location on Auguststrasse, at the heart of the Mitte district’s thriving art scene.
Prior to running a commercial gallery, the managing directors Johann Nowak and Tereza de Arruda have been working as independent curators, realizing numerous international projects, such as The Festival of Vision, Berlin – Hong Kong with The House of World Cultures Berlin, the Greek Pavillion at the Sao Paulo Biennial or the Curator’s Choice Programme of Art Frankfurt. The DNA’s objective is to provide a stage for contemporary art and stimulate the debate that surrounds it. We aim to present and foster new horizons in art, which in turn require experimental forms of exhibiting, conveying and communicating.
Luc Courchesne, 050624-16 (Chicago), 2003
duratran digital print mounted under plexi with lexan lamination, rotational device, fluorescent bulb and transformer
24 cm diam.
Exhibited at: Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain, 2005
Courchesne showed perhaps the edgiest, most technological challenging work in the entire exhibit. Incorporating elements of the C++ program, computer generated graphics, and integrating a computer based camera, and a video game joystick, Courchesne created what can only be referred to as digital video genius. The work is essentially a 3D gyroscope, accompanied by video in which the viewer could find himself or lose herself in the work using the joystick to change orientations within the program. Fully interactive, yet eerily reminding of a movie that has yet to be made, the work continues to leave this reviewer spellbound, as it causes the mind to bend in over itself, because it is hard to believe that you can exist in a computer program, in the X-Y-Z axes without losing your mind entirely. Hands down the best work of the show, and one worth seeing at you next chance. “The Panoscopic Journal, undertaken by Courchesne in 1999, documented moments of Courchesne whereabouts as he traveled to exhibit his interactive portraits and developed immersive projection systems of his own. His goal with the Journal was, essentially then, to get familiar with the novel point of view offered by the catadioptric lens he was using. In this exhibition, Courchesne continues his Journal to question more directly this time the concept of place, of the observing subject and of the novel nature of the worlds one is now invited to step in. Nothing is less certain than these “locations” presented as “switchable” realities.”
About the Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain (PFOAC)Gallery:
Established in 2001, Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain (PFOAC) is a commercial, contemporary, art gallery in Montréal committed to showing photographic, new-media, drawing, sculpture, installation art, and works on paper by a diverse group of Canadian multidisciplinary artists that includes: Marc Audette, Alexandre Castonguay, Luc Courchesne, Michel de Broin, Jérôme Fortin, Karilee Fuglem, Louis Joncas, Marie-Josée Laframboise, John Latour, Marie-Jeanne Musiol, Ed Pien, Roland Poulin, Michael A. Robinson, Annie Thibault and Johannes Zits.
Located one block west of the Musée d'Art Contemporain, and in the heart of Montréal, the gallery provides its artists an opportunity and a venue to show exploratory, museum-quality works alongside smaller art works more suited for private collections. Through its exhibition programming, participation at national and international art fairs, publications and web presence, the gallery provides continuity to the careers of its artists. The goal of the gallery is to develop a strong collector base for its artists.
About the Gallery: :
PLAY is a gallery and a showroom for artistic projects, revealing to what extend film, video and art reciprocally influence one another. Far beyond classical gender distinctions, new narrative and visual languages form an alternative to the flood of images and their latent subliminal advertising divulgated by traditional mass media. The gallery’s goal and main interest is primarily focused on the changing of the visitor’s and contemplator’s visual patterns as well as reception channels, in order to invite and fascinate him in a positive way.
In order to do so, play invites artists, directors and cameramen to present their project ideas that will subsequently be realized for the space. Production know-how, and theoretical background of the projects are considered as equally important. This is why, a particular emphasis is given to the cooperation with universities and academies in order to elaborate such new conception during workshops with the participation of students and professors. In this very context, the best Offs coming from festivals are presented in screenings and moderated by experts.
Who's Marina Abramovic ?, 2006
Colour video on DVD from 35mm film 'Balkan Baroque' by P. Coulibeuf
Provenance: Paris, France
Exhibited at: Deichtorhallen Hamburg
About Pierre Coulibeuf: Born in Elbeuf (France) in 1949, Pierre Coulibeuf lives today in Paris where he works as film-maker and artist. He was awarded a doctorate in modern literature with a dissertation on P. Klossowski and L. von Sacher Masoch.
Pierre Coulibeuf has achieved a cinematographic body of works that owns its originality to its close relation to other artistic disciplines (i.e. visual arts, choreography, literature). Crossing cinematographic genres (fiction, documentary, experimental) as well as always presenting the image with different supports (35mm projection, installation, photography) has given his simulacrum-movies the chance of inventing a place or a language closely related to other forms of art, criticizing the more established ones and questioning the ways reality has always been presented.
by Karriem Holman