Monday, April 04, 2011

The Other Great Debate in Contemporary Art

A while back I had noted how there didn't seem to be as many passionate disagreements in the art world as there once were. Epic philosophical arguments seemed a relic of the 20th Century and, even then, were possibly even played up by historians looking for some conflict to spice up their narratives [h/t FE].

Today the only public debate I tend to hear much about from where I sit is the Formalist vs. the Conceptualist one, but I'm beginning to understand more about another ongoing difference of opinion the more I learn about the history of experimental film and its (to my mind) misplaced but intentional distance from the rest of the visual art world and, more famously, from the popular film industry.

Today, of course, the lines are being blurred all across the board, with Hollywood actors crossing over into performance art, bona fide fine artists preferring their films to be screened in cinemas rather than galleries or museums, filmmakers embracing video, galleries embracing both (but with their own set views on editioning works for sale, video artists transferring their older works to film, and a wide range of the preferences that defined the field just a few decades ago seeming nowhere near as important as they obviously once had.

Not that I know this topic will come up, per se, at the New York Film/Video Council panel discussion tomorrow night, but I do expect the tensions that are still simmering below the surface on such issues to inform the conversation at this event you might consider attending if, like me, you're fascinated by this debate. The title does suggest the strong differences of opinion are on the table:

Split of Light: Experimental Media
A panel on the past, present + future of creating, distributing and presenting experimental film and video with panelists from Anthology Film Archives, Electronic Arts Intermix, Film-maker’s Coop, James Fuentes Gallery and Light Industry.

Join us in conversation on the past, present and future of effective programming of experimental media. Learn from leaders of New York’s programming, distribution & exhibition scene: Rebecca Cleman (programmer and Distribution Director of Electronic Arts Intermix), Thomas Beard (Founder and Director of Light Industry), Andrew Lampert (filmmaker, programmer and archivist at Anthology Film Archives), James Fuentes (of the Lower East Side gallery James Fuentes LLC, which represents Jonas Mekas among many others) and MM Serra (filmmaker and Executive Director of Film-maker’s Coop).

After the panel, we’ll have a reception for all attendees to continue the conversation.

Tuesday, April 5th, 7pm
doors open at 6:30, panel begins at 7, reception to follow

EAI (Electronic Arts Intermix)
535 West 22nd, 5th floor (btwn. 10th and 11th)

New York, NY

Tickets are free for members and $10 for the rest of us. See here to reserve yours.

Bambino and I had the pleasure to briefly discuss the panel with its moderator, Rebecca Cleman, in advance. Here is Rebecca's description of what to expect:
The panelists will consider how experimental film and video has been impacted by the art world's increased interest in the moving image, parallel to a changed environment for independent media production and exhibition. The panel will also take into consideration how the very term "experimental" - sometimes used interchangeably with "avant-garde" and "underground" - has been defined by audience demographics, and distribution, exhibition, and production models.
These topics dominated most of the discussion at the Moving Image art fair as well. They're hot button issues in the film+video-meets-gallery domain. I highly recommend this discussion for those interested in the topic.

UPDATE: Due to a scheduling conflict, James Fuentes will be replaced by Alex Kitnick of Greene Naftali.

Labels: Film, panel discussion, video


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