There are a few cities in the world whose history is written through its architecture, and Istanbul is a sublime example. Roman hippodromes, Byzantine churches, and spectacular mosques mix with art nouveau and modern structures--conveying a dynamic and layered past and present, both spiritual and civic. Silahtaraga, an Ottoman power station dating from the 20th century, is an awesome example of civic architecture and it has recently, with the oversight of Istanbul's Bilgi University, been turned into a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional space. Home to a massive art space, an energy museum, and a center for culture and education, Santralistanbul has been become host to a number of exhibitions and events, in collaboration with the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art (Cairo), ZINC--ECM de la Friche Belle de Mai (Marseille), NOMAD (Istanbul), and SCCA (Ljubljana), santralistanbul presents Light, Illumination, Electricity an Artists in Residence program that consists of workshops, open studios, and exhibitions. Taking as its subject Light and Electricity, the projects will echo the transformation of the space both architecturally and culturally. The participating artists, architects, scientists, choreographers, and musicians reflect not only the city's storied past but also its continuing relevance as a major center for art and culture.
The longest-running documentary film festival in the US, the Margaret Mead Video and Film Festival opens this Friday in New York City. As its namesake evokes, this fest highlights anthropological, sociological, and political films, casting a wide net to present films that critically engage a broad range of global cultures and themes. A number of screenings and discussions are closely aligned with new media art concerns and threads. The panel The Machine is Us/ing Us: User Generated Content, moderated by Michael Wesch, assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University tackles Web 2.0 from an anthropological perspective with the participation of the head of YouTube's film department as well as key administrators from other user-driven sites. The screening of Rani Singh's The Old, Weird America: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music presented by Jonas Mekas and Anthology Film Archive looks at the remarkable contributions of American avant-garde filmmaker and musicologist Harry Smith (many of his Early Abstraction films can be previewed on YouTube) and Eyebeam co-presents the premier of Jaqueline Goss's new work Stranger Comes to Town which appropriates animation from the Department of Homeland Security, World of Warcraft, and Google Earth. Often caught up in the insular art world, events such as the Margaret Mead Video and Film Festival not only exposes us to new trends in documentary film, but also allows us to view issues so central to new media art in much broader cultural contexts.
If you've ever looked for performance videos by Bruce Nauman on YouTube you know that they've all been taken down due to copyright infringement. What has taken their place, however, are copious 'versions' of Nauman's performances, enacted and filmed by fans and followers. This is emblematic of recent interest in the idea of 'reenactment,' and in particular the restaging of key performance art works from the 1960s and 70s. In both 2005 and 2007, the performance art biennial PERFORMA's programs have included more than one of these takes on the 'classics.' In 2005 Marina Abramovic restaged Vito Acconci, Joseph Beuys, Valie Export, and others in her series 'Seven Easy Pieces,' and DJ Spooky reinterpreted Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman's 'TV Cello.' This year, 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, Alan Kaprow's historically monumental event, is being restaged, and internet artists Eva & Franco Mattes (a.k.a. 010010110101101.org) will reenact three performances from the seventies with their avatars in Second Life. They have already restaged Chris Burden's 'Shoot,' Vito Acconci's 'Seedbed,' Valie Export's 'Tapp und Tastkino,' and the ongoing Joseph Beuys work, '7000 Oaks.' Is performance becoming more like theater, with scripts and scores to be followed by different artists in different contexts, with complex authorial attribution? And why is there such a strong impulse to reenact the past? Is this homage or simplistic repetition? Perhaps these reperformances are a viable and creative means to preserve an art form that has no material presence, and like oral histories, they can be passed down through generations of artists--giving us a rare glimpse of what came before.
Electra, the brainchild of Lina Dzuverovic and Anne Hilde Neset, has for the past four years commissioned, exhibited, and found institutional support for contemporary art in the UK. Although they focus on the intersection of contemporary mediums, music and sonic art form the backbone of their productive efforts. Christian Marclay, Tony Oursler, and Kim Gordon are only a few of the artists they've worked with and the Her Noise curatorial project has traveled widely and been critically lauded. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the magazine The Wire (of which Neset is now a Deputy Editor) the two are teaming up again for a series of performances, film screenings, and new commissions. Infamous performer Lydia Lunch will premiere (in the UK) her autobiographical 'Video Hysteries;' a series of short films from the LUX archives forms a history lesson on the longstanding relationship between avant garde music and film; and Christian Marclay will perform his music/video/performance piece 'Screen Play.' By bringing fully-formed exhibitions and programs to the table, Electra addresses head-on lingering institutional reticence to get involved with sound art and the simultaneous prevalence of it. Performances run throughout London from October 26th-November 22nd 2007.
Beck has been commissioning artists to create his music videos for years and legendary music video director Michel Gondry just had a gallery show in New York City. These are just two instances the are evidence of the blurring between what we think of as video art and the art of the music video. This trend (if we can call it that) is the subject of Playback, an exhibition at the Musee d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris. With a large roster and multiple venues, the show illustrates the history and diversity of the art/music video genre. Works by Andy Warhol, Laurie Anderson, and Rodney Graham sit alongside newer works by Michael Bell-Smith, Paper Rad, and YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. With numerous screenings throughout the city, the best place for those not in Paris to see the show is on the Playback myspace page, which links to a number of videos in the show. Notable highlights include Jill Miller's I am Making art Too, a witty, playful, and pointed update of John Baldessari's I am Making Art, and art world darlings Los Super Elegantes' telenovela Dieciseis/Sixteen, directed by Miguel Calderon. In a time when most video art has become multi-screen installation, Playback makes a strong case that single channel video, in the form of the music video, is alive and well, with an audience and a distribution network to rival single channel video's heyday.