New German Video Art
Alternative Space Loop has been continuously showcasing new trends of young media art from around the world. In collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, “New German Video Art” highlights young, contemporary German artists’ novel yet lively video art macrocosms. This exhibition will present various visual languages, grammatical usages and styles of today’s young video artists selected from major German art academies. The fact that Germany was also the second home to video art pioneer Nam June Paik, further underlines the significance of this exhibition.
Part 1: Looking at the Big Sky
The sight of a big sky is closely associated with freedom and openness. The faraway horizon is synonymous with the vastness of thought; the high blue sky of day and the starry nocturnal firmament are all codes for the sublime. They also remind us of the childlike pastime of looking for pictures in cloud formations or marveling at the boundlessness of the universe.
The choice of “Looking at the Big Sky” as the title of a contemporary video art program was associated with the hope that the ideas and illusions would know no boundaries, that the sky would be the limit in all directions. At the same time, it sounded like an appeal to the participating artists to venture a – perhaps naïve, but unerring – look at longings, utopias and great aspirations, and to think the existing concepts of authenticity and beauty beyond the present.
Students of four German art academies (Braunschweig University of Art, Düsseldorf Art Academy, Academy of Media Arts, Cologne and Academy of Fine Arts, Munich) were invited to enter recent single-channel videos in the competition “Looking at the Big Sky”. Fourteen films – works which respond to the thematic postulation with an astonishing variety of motifs and practices – were ultimately selected.
The spectrum ranges from fictional narratives and stagings to individual assertions and performances, from found-footage montages to pseudo documentaries. At the same time, two major perspectives crystallize in the works, and were thus formulated in the headings of the two screening blocks: whereas the videos subsumed under “The Beauty of the Familiar” aim towards personal introspection that divines meaning in the inconspicuous and unspectacular, “Departure for Tomorrow” encompasses videos seeking to formulate an outlook on the immeasurable and indeterminate.
Part 2: Your Skin Makes Me Cry
“Your skin makes me cry. You float like a feather in a beautiful world … But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here.” These memorable lines from the hit song “Creep” by Radiohead provide the thematic framework for the second part of the exhibition program: On the one hand, they convey intimacy – the physical and emotional contact, happiness and pain it involves, as well as the adolescent struggle for selfhood and the ongoing quest for personal identity. On the other hand, they refer to the social context – to the staging of the self and the shattering of gender stereotypes, as reflected in the works of young visual artists.
The examination of gender roles and how they shape identity has become a subject of renewed interest, above all for a younger generation of artists, and is a central concern of contemporary art practice.
Students from every German art school were invited to submit recent single-channel videos for the competition “Your Skin Makes Me Cry”. Twenty works were subsequently selected from a total of 234 entries from more than 30 different colleges and universities. They range from highly personal evaluations of the artist’s own role – and the perception of that role within a given framework of social expectations and power structures – to critical appraisals of material found on the World Wide Web; from observations on everyday relationships, sexuality or strained interpersonal relationships to conceptual works on queer identities or gender studies. For all the seriousness of the subject matter, many of the pieces are characterized by a light-hearted, humorous approach to their particular theme.
“New German Video Art” promises to fully disclose the present-tense of contemporary German video art, which is yet to be adequately introduced to Korea. In particular, the sense of themes will offer a profound opportunity to encounter the critical minds and current trends of young German artists, whose diligent perspectives and approaches are both rational and sensuous.
Goethe-Institut Korea, Alternative Space Loop