“History is, to a large extent, reconstructed imaginatively inside the spectator’s mental space. It addresses the radical issue of what the adequate communication mechanism for a work of art in video format can be.”
With these words, Joan Morey presented his piece To Die for… (Power, Corruption and Lies), on the occasion of the first LOOP Fair, in November 2003. In reading them, we can identify some of the key issues that were already present in the first investigations that stemmed from video art: the conception of history, and thus the narration and construction of an active and collective memory; mental space, and the experimentation of a new abstract dimension, born physically from electromagnetic signals and able to constitute itself as a presentation of other dimensions; the spectator, an eye that looks and recognizes the “camera-eye”, which in turn observes him back; communication as a radical mechanism, and therefore as an agent agent contributing to change and social protests; and the notion of “video format”, embodying an ambivalence between its tangible condition and the possible dematerialisation of the work of art.
These concepts and tensions, which continue to be cogent today, are what LOOP Barcelona has reflected on since its very onset. Now, in 2017, we tackle these issues with a programme that looks back to our past. That is how we delve deeper into these debates with the same artists who, in the late 70s, started working with the then brand-new video camera and tape.
In her most recent book, The Autobiography of Video. The Life and Times of a Memory Technology (1), Ina Blom points out that “Memory in video was simply a question of an imperceptible time delay, a minimal difference between before and after that is simply an internal feature of machinic functioning”. This form of “video memory” or “video recording” could be similar in articulation to those “so-called” stories, which oppose to the constructed and hierarchical notion of History. Stories that are born from the coexistence of personal recollections and common memory, “blending the past and the future into one single thing”(2).
The memory of LOOP, which results from the intertwining of facts and recollections related to the moving image community, is barely 15 years old. It brings about network of agents and places, it could be thought of as a physical constellation, though with a time dimension as well, ruled by those imperceptible leaps between the past and the present.
While we work on the coming edition, we have done a little data collection exercise, according to which facts could work as “time nodes for the activation of network memory” and remind us of our vision and mission: articulating a weave of specialists for our community, which includes artists, gallery directors, collectors, researchers, curators, critics, producers and other professionals working with video art and art films. By doing that, we wish to respond to our community´s needs and to broaden the conversation around the tensions society faces.
1. Joan Morey’s video is presented by the Mallorcan gallery Horrach Moyá during LOOP 2003.
2. During LOOP’s first year, the Fair already took place in a hotel between November 27 and 30, and gathered 41 galleries, becoming a forum for discovering, discussing and acquiring videos and films.
3. Other entities were also present, such as the Escola Massana, which used one of the rooms to display a project by three of its students, Miquel García being one of them.
4. Four years later, Miquel García and Raphael Rozendaal worked on a project together. Milena Pi would give her vision of it in the platform a-desk.org.
5. The Steve Turner Gallery from Los Angeles has recently sent its application for LOOP Fair 2017 with a proposal by Rozendaal.
6. BTV (Barcelona Televisió) also had a room in the 2003 edition, where it presented the programme Boing Boing Budha by Andrés Hispano and Manel Huerga. The “goal and responsibility of the proposal was to explore the audiovisual realm considering the spectator an intelligent accomplice, capable of enjoying the world of images”.
7. In 2017, as part of LOOP Festival, BTV will include David Hall’s TV Interruptions, which were first broadcasted in the 1971 edition of the Edinburgh Festival.
8. November 25, 2003, was the first day of LOOP talks. At 7PM, at Caixaforum’s Mediateca, Eugeni Bonet gave a presentation titled “Bluce Local: from Super-8 to Digital. An Introspective Version of Video in the Spanish State”.
9. This year’s edition is made possible thanks to the curatorial advice of Eugeni Bonet and Antoni Mercader.
10. In 1980, Bonet, with contributions by Mercader and Joaquim Dols, co-authored the first national book devoted entirely to video art.
11. Also during its first edition, LOOP hosted several cinema sessions, on this occasion at Can Felipa, where the series on Estonian artist Ene-Liis Semper received special attention.
12. In this year’s selection for the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Semper has been included in the section Signals: Everyday Propaganda.
13. As part of that first year’s OFF programme, the MACBA included Brazilian-Swiss duo Dias & Riedweg in the exhibition Probablemente hablamos de lo mismo.
14. These two artists participated again in 2007 on the experimental project LOOP DIVERSE, which wanted to promote intercultural dialogue and was hosted at the CCCB.
15. Vermelho, the gallery from São Paulo that has supported and represented the artists for over a decade, took part in LOOP Fair 2012.
16. Three years later, the Co-Production Award would be created in a joint effort between LOOP, the Xarxa de Centres d’Arts Visuals and Arts Santa Mónica. In 2015 and 2016, the Award was given to Jordi Colomer and Carles Congost, respectively. The latter of the two artists had his film screened by the same Mallorcan gallery that presented Morey during LOOP 2003. Furthermore, Congost has just opened a solo exhibition around the winning piece Wonders at the Bòlit Centre d’Art Contemporani (Girona). The work will travel to Beursschouwburg in Brussels.
17. Joan Morey has won the 2017 Co-Production Award.
(1) Ina Blom, The Autobiography of Video. The Life and Times of a Memory Technology, Sternberg Press, 2016.
(2) Eric Selbin, El poder del relato. Revolución, rebelión, Resistencia, Interzona, 2012 (Revolution, Rebellion, Resistance: the Power of Story, 2010).