During September 2009, VideoChannel will feature a selection of art videos by Visualcontainer/Milan – Italian video artists, curated by Giorgio Fedeli
Memory and identity have been major issues in videoart investigation in the last decade of the 20th Century. Since the inception of the “new-economy”, “post-modern” and “virtual reality” era, artists have suffered from a lack of identification and placement within the world, having all the traditional assertions of gender, religion and biological property been cancelled, infringed or mixed-up. Urged by the cyborg and bioengineering promises, during the late 90’s the electronic eye investigated the problem of giving an identity to objects and people within an unpredictable changeableness of roles and denominations, in most cases by simply shooting everyday life just as it was. At the beginning of Y2K era, challenged also by economy crises, terrorism and immigration flows in and out of mass participation, identity has still to be steadily and continuously looked for in ordinary life. In the last ten years the global world has gotten used to most of the ever-shocking technological and biotechnological innovation: we all have learnt to face blurring biological boundaries on Tv programs and to resort to “fluid” ways of existence and interrelationship thanks to the Internet and daily tech facilities. Apparently, we are more confident with our tools and with our new way of approaching ourselves and the others both physically and – more often – virtually. Yet, something is missing, some part of our self-identification eventually lacks in the complicate puzzle of our (post)modern, contemporary construction. The videoart world has never dropped the urge for addressing such a topic and now calls for attention in an only apparently less anxious bunch of outcomes. Many are the artists within VisualContainer’s archive who have in fact chosen to face the several disguises of everyday life, trying to ask questions about their – and our – identity right now and in a near future. Of course, no unique answer can be found from their works but an identifying line of poetical approach – a weapon as we may call it, for the most of them – seems to be fitting to the theme of memory. Again, memory is the mirror in which the artists dare search for their face and body, their ultimate inner skeleton and sensing to the outer world. Memory can thus become a revelatory physical matching with a parent, a more dramatic real match with a facing counterpart or just a heaping up of faces at the rhythm of most contemporary audio-video practises. Nevertheless, identity can also be sought in the presentation of the past after mixing up with current landscapes, or just through the contact to our very self imprisoned by the jail of our own body or by a crowd. A blink of identity can also suddenly peep in from an astonishing resolution of an ordinary event. All in all, where we eventually get to is not what/where we initially were at the “identification start” before playing the video: if not a solution at all, this is at least a good place to gather forces and dig into our presence.
video title: Play, 1:03, 2008
“This video investigates the human conditions, contradictions and unawareness. It can be approached according to several interpretations
At a first look, we meet a man gesticulating in an empty space, as if involved in a game, while a background of singing children can be heard
In fact, we are facing a fomer khmer rouge who is re-acting the very same gestures he used to do in the jail where he was working in his youth.
The sound we’re listening to is just the march of war usually sang by the children after being drilled to kill in the Cambodian fields.
A parallel does arise between the children’s games and the actual childhood of the ex khmer rouge which was spent on committing the most heinous crimes with no consciousness at all.
The pictorial image of the video is a tribute to one of the few survivors, who was a painter at the time and is now showing what was happening inside the killing fields of Phnom Phen _ now a Museum _during the Pol Pot age. ”
video title: Domestic parkour, 04′ 32″, 2007
Supported by a narrative array where the real world combines with evocative animation, this work enthrals from the very beginning with an appealing resolving of visual associations and complementary soundtrack.
In the end, after pleasing the senses with a development which traps with no possible escape, the video does bring along a time for reflection about very open interpretations on the meaning of the characters, their stories and settings.
video title: Zone lost, 08′ 30″, 2008
Initially designed as the show of a girl watching the end of the world on television, the video then depicts her reaction to this terrible and terminal event.
The artist resorts to a double screen to offer the character’s behaviour from two opposite points of view: on the left-hand screen we face a passive reaction as a total fear has completely blocked the girl, so that she cannot communicate her feelings but through the very powerful mixture of her immobility and glance abstract from the viewers’ world.
On the contrary, the right-hand screen is filled with a dynamic response to the situation: the alter-ego has decided to flee from the scary vision and with no less attraction than the former does she freeze the audience with a very slow motion of a possibly endless runaway.
video title: CORPUS, 06′ 04″, 2007
A mosaic of coloured squares and lines keeps endlessly changing on the screen, while we catch a glimpse of human faces in the background and the words “Love” and “Hate” occasionally show off.
Love is a video work which can be partially compared with current vjing experience and offers an ultimate enthralment thanks to its skilful mix of chromatic structure and audio compounds. Eventually, an appealing approach to the definition of our identity as formed from our most current technological practises.
Iginio De Luca
video title: “ Autofocus” (2006) – 04’10”
A self-portrait video, a game where to investigate the artist’s real identity by alternating among drama, astonishment and irony. The artist tries to place his own face over the images of his parents so as to play the miracle of giving static characters back to life and recomposing unity.
//Courtesy of Galleria Martano – Torino (Italy).
video title: “Ottana” (2008) – 11’46”
Daybreak. A group of men riding on horseback is slowly swallowed by a poisons factory. This work ponders upon the environmental and socio-anthropological effect of the massive industrial plant in Ottana, a desert area within the Barbagia territory in Sardinia.
The video wants to emblematically play the synthesis of the opposed matching between the memory of rural life and current industry.
video title: “Stadt-Fisch” (2006) – 05’00”
Three people skim one another without ever meeting, their thoughts and voices overlap, their strophes keep repeating. They suppose to be lonely in a strange and hostile city as they are simply unaware of what’s around them. One of the new way of narration through video which ultimately gets us face our identity within everyday crowd.
video title: Escalating perception/the gaze, 2004
The work explores the problematic area of attitudes and life of the couple: the sentences issued by the protagonists are the result of interviews with young adults between 30 and 40 years who, after a separation, they felt ready again to be involved in a relationship.
Of course, this also provides a small cross-section of society, putting on display the wishes, rights and arrangements required to contact the global village in today dealing with foreign partners.
video title: “Disappear” 2006- 03’41”
This video is part of a trilogy dedicated to the visual expression of mental boundaries and to the investigation of the human communicability and knowability. As if directly introducing into the cerebral acting of a schizophrenic memory, the situation eventually opens up to an existential fading into a final condition, which remains unknown and suitable for any interpretation depending on our personal beliefs.
video title: “Ore 13 (High Noon)” (2006) – 02’36”
What happens when we subvert the innocent memories of our childhood and transform them into something completely unexpected and cruel in a dramatic way? As if we were on stage watching our history and identity perform in disguise, to a final conclusion where to start an adult reasoning and reconsidered identification.
“ Il dondolo (The swing)” (2002) 05’00”
This video belongs to the investigation area which is typical of the artist: the disenfranchisement of the reality that we would expect from the daily routine and rules, also as a mean of (de)constructing certainties.
A simple action eventually catalyses a redemption of what we’d suppose to be the logical ending: here we are suddenly and enormously surprised at the way our expectations literary break into fragments.
video title: “Soffri” 2002 07’59”
This video offers the shrewd balance between irony and willing to investigate the social and political Italian fabric which is typical of the artist: it eventually becomes the opportunity for more generally depicting the human relationships and the role/identity theme within the contemporary world.
By presenting memories of Italian medieval past under the guise of a riding knight and mentioning phrases of the famous utopian philosopher Tommaso Campanella, Umbaca here offers the starting point for a deep consideration about the relation between the individual and society, with all the relevant hierarchies, constrictions and/or possibilities.