40jahrevideokunst.de - Videoart in Germany from 1963 to 2004
40 years of German Videoart

review by Jizaino, 23 September 2008

"40jahrevideokunst.de - Videoarte in Germania dal 1963 al 2004"
(40jahrevideokunst.de - Videoart in Germany from 1963 to 2004)
Collective exhibition of German Videoart. A project to recover, to restore and to preserve the artworks.
Museum of contemporary Art Villa Croce - Genoa (Italy)
from 24 September to 19 October 2008
open Tuesday - Friday 9.00-18.30, Saturday and Sunday 10.00-18.30, closed on Monday
entrance €4

The exhibition

The bright rooms of the Villa Croce Museum this time are immersed in a semi-obscurity in order to display, for the first time in Italy, the project of recovery, restoration and preservation of the video artworks by German artists between 1963 and 2004.

The project has lead to the production of 12 DVDs containing 59 significative videos of the German production, realizing the restoration where necessary, not an easy task for the natural deterioration of the magnetic tape materials. On the site of the project http://www.40jahrevideokunst.de/[]>there are several documents on the techniques and how the restoration has been done.

The 12 DVDs are shown in as many postings, 9 on monitors with headphones and 3 video projected, with which one can freely interact through the remote control to visualize the desired video.

The 59 artworks are logically proposed in chronological order and amount to over 27 hours of video; for this reason the entrance ticket of the Museum is valid for all the duration of the exposition, making the examination and the deepening of the archive more comforting.

The artworks

Among the artworks of the archive there is also material that dates back to the very first beginnings of the television era, as for example "Sun in your head" realized in 1963 by Wolf Vostell elaborating and shooting the moving pictures of the first German television broadcasts using 16mm film, since the systems of magnetic video recording were not spread yet.
Other artworks realized in origin using 16mm film are shown, like "Land Art" (1969) by Gerry Schum, that does not have much in common with Videoart but the only detail that it has been expressly realized for the television.

Wolf Vostell, "Sun in your head", 5'17'', 1963

Besides to Vostell we find other important names of the Fluxus international movement, like Joseph Beuys of whom it is shown his only production specifically realized in 1970 for the television entitled "Filz-TV" (Felt-TV).

Joseph Beuys, "Filz-TV", 10'08'', 1970

Always belonging to the Fluxus movement we also find Nam June Paik, that is not very connected to the German context, but in his television broadcast "Good Morning, Mr. Orwell" is present Joseph Beuys in person, together with other international artists engaged by Paik for the realization of a collective artistic event broadcast via satellite in the year 1984, date not choose randomly: with this artwork Paik seems willing to disprove the vision described in the novel "1984" by George Orwell, in which the television represents the system of mass control, trying to propose the television medium as a device for the global diffusion of art and culture. Anyway unfortunately the good intentions of Paik and many artists do not seem to have turned out any effect... and if the television remains the voice of the Big Brother (the orwellian one, please!), today the cities are also studded with closed circuit video cameras.

Nam June Paik, "Good morning, Mr. Orwell", 58'00'',1984
(Beuys on the right)

In facts Michael Klier have a contrary opinion: in the artwork  "Der Riese" ("The Giant") of 1983, in which he uses material coming from surveillance video cameras, he tries to confer to the observer a sensation of superior control on the public activities.

Michael Klier, "Der Riese", 81'32'', 1983

Many other are the great names proposed by the exhibition, like Jan Dibbets with "TV as a Fireplace", Jochen Klier with "Rufen bis zur Erschöpfung" ("Calling till the exhaustion", 1972), the performance of the 1974 by Valie Export "Raumsehen und Raumhören" ("To see the space and to feel the space") that recalls the first experimentations of the American Bruce Nauman, Marina Abramović with "City of Angels" (1983), Harun Farocki with "Gefängnisbilder" ("Pictures from the jail", 2000), Katharina Sieverding with "Life-Death" (1969-2004; the Artist in January has been introduced in Rome by Achille Bonito Oliva) and others.

Andree Korpys e Markus Löffler, "The nuclear Football", 30'41'', 2004


Many are the great names and in general a big number of artworks with experimental purposes are present, in which the tool is used just as a recording system, in comparison to those that use the video as a tool for the creative manipulation of the picture.
The chance to unlimitedly visit the exposition for all its duration with one only ticket, together with the presence of several artworks that have characterized the beginnings of the Videoart of Central Europe and international, make this event a good chance of study and deepening.

Jizaino -