Whitehot Magazine

A Year Onscreen: Video and Film Highlights of 2010

Fiona Tan, A Lapse of Memory, 2007 (still)
single-channel video installation , 24 minutes
Courtesy of the Artist and Frith Street Gallery, London


A Year Onscreen

In his 1936 essay "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" Walter Benjamin cited writer Franz Werfel: "The film has not yet realized its true meaning, its real possibilities ... these consist in its unique faculty to express by natural means and with incomparable persuasiveness all that is fairylike, marvelous, supernatural.” In a 2003 essay on Peter Campus, Bill Viola stated, "The so-called video image is actually a shimmering energy pattern of electrons vibrating in time...The electronic image is not fixed to any material base and, like our DNA, it has become a code that can circulate freely to any container that will hold it, defying death as it travels at the speed of light." As much as these quotes illustrate the dramatic difference seventy years made in using the screen as a creative medium - we have long since witnessed films achieve the fairylike, the marvelous and the supernatural - the rate of change in the past decade has only been accelerating. Screens are everywhere, cameras are everywhere and everyone has the ability, and, more often than not, the will, to capture, upload and consume. As this self-reflective process become more and more a part of daily life, the relevance of video and film as a means of artistic expression can only increase, and 2010 saw a number of exceptional exhibits featuring the moving image. Highlights included:

Runa Islam

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Australia and the Musee D'Art Contemporain, Montreal co-commissioned a major new work by rising British art star Runa Islam. First garnering wide international attention with a successful showing at the 2005 Venice Biennale she was nominated, and touted as the 'peoples choice', for the 2008 Turner Prize. Her new film, Magical Consciousness, debuted in May in an exhibition at MACM.

Full Review: Runa Islam @ Musee D'Art Contemporain, Montreal

Mika Rottenberg

The Argentinean-born, New York-based Rottenberg also completed a significant new piece. Squeeze was debuted as an installment of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's New Work series. Launched in 1987, the series has featured artists such as Matthew Barney, Kara Walker and Paul Sietsema. Squeeze was subsequently shown at Mary Boone in New York.

Full Review: Mika Rottenberg @ San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Fiona Tan

Following Tan's critically acclaimed exhibition at the 2009 Venice Biennale's Dutch Pavilion, Aargauer Kunsthaus and the Vancouver Art Gallery organised Rise and Fall, a concise survey of her work. Rise and Fall was first shown in Switzerland, after which it was presented at Vancouver Art Gallery, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. and the Galerie de l’UQAM in Montréal.

Full Review: Fiona Tan @ Vancouver Art Gallery

Ryan Trecartin, Peter Campus, Joachim Koester, Sharon Lockhart

In March, Toronto's Power Plant put together a stellar set of installations featuring some of the biggest names in film and video. Presented in conjunction with the 23rd Images Festival, Artists Explore Screen Space balanced works by Ryan Trecartin, Peter Campus, Joachim Koester, Sharon Lockhart, offering a unique perspective on the breadth and development of the medium.

Full Review: Artists Explore Screen Space @ The Power Plant