What’s wrong with Video Art? – The Panel Discussion

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After my original article on ‘What’s wrong with video art?‘ triggered responses from curator David Gryn and gallerist Ian Rosenfeld, a panel discussion was held with all three authors in Rosenfeld Porcini gallery, chaired by founder of FAD Mark Westall.

It was a well attended panel discussion and some of the key points and questions to come out of it are covered below:

What is video art?

The panel agreed that definition isn’t important as most video art could easily be classified as short film. One argument put forward is that the definition rests with the artist as they can decide whether they are an artist or a film-maker, but they still need a gallery or art organisation to present their work.

This is tricky as it doesn’t sit right that a gallery decides what is and what isn’t video art – surely it’s the artist who should retain ultimate control of this classification. Ultimately it may be the marketing that determines whether it is video art or film – whether it comes through the film or art industry.

The question remains unanswered and it’s inevitable that over time the line between video art and short film will become so blurred that a distinction may cease to exist in the grey area between the two.

What makes for a great video art experience?

Jumping off from the negative experiences in my original article, there was a broader discussion around how galleries are still getting used to video. They want it as part of a portfolio but aren’t sure how to display it.

Cinema is better designed for showing video art as the audience is there for a purpose, as they may have paid and they know what to expect.  But the drawback of cinema is that it’s not designed for some works that need a one to one interaction of that are designed to convey a sense of intimacy.

How to make video art commercially viable?

Lots of questions were asked around whether video art could exist on Youtube or other non-art platforms but there were concerns from some that taking it outside the gallery system would devalue it, and it would no longer be taken seriously as it would now be no different from cat videos. Though the challenge to this is that video must appeal to somebody to make money whether it be to the general wider public or the players within the gallery system.

After discussing the finer points around these three questions, the discussion was opened up to the audience:

Q&A

A comment suggested that video art could work as a cinema trailer as long as it suited the movie but an important aspect is to not force it on people as this will sour the public view of video art.

A major issue related to displaying the art, as it needs a bespoke location to show it and so the inconvenience factor of setting it up makes it difficult. This did trigger a discussion around whether editions of video on blu-ray could be the way forward.

Technology was also seen as a barrier as it dates so quickly that video has no ability to stand the test of time, but photography has despite the change in access to technology.

It was a fascinating discussion to flesh out the three articles and views will most likely change as video art evolves as a medium.

About Tabish Khan

Art Critic for both FAD and Londonist. See as many exhibitions as possible and write reviews, opinion pieces and a weekly top 5 for FAD.