The 15th Edition of LOOP Barcelona Pays Tribute to the Pioneers of Video Art

– The LOOP Festival features a key selection of authors and works from the 60s, 70s and 80s, intended to give greater insight into current audiovisual production and curated by Eugeni Bonet and Antoni Mercader, prominent experts on the history of audiovisual art and new media in Spain.

– Participants contributing their installations and screenings include genre icons like Eugènia Balcells, David Hall, Beryl Korot, Chip Lord, Mary Lucier, Antoni Muntadas, Nam June Paik, Carles Pujol, Steina and Woody Vasulka, and Peter Weibel.

– The programme is enhanced by monographic exhibitions of works by Andy Warhol, Martha Rosler, Tony Oursler, Antoni Miralda and Robert Cahen.

– LOOP, the benchmark moving image platform, to be held from 18 to 27 May, will this year extend as far afield as l’Hospitalet. It will be hosted at a total of 80 venues, some as unusual as the Avinguda de la Llum Cinema, in the basement of Carrer Pelai, and the Ortigosa parking garage.

– The festival is still committed to the local scene and local production, with a marked presence of current offerings showcased around the city, as well as the pioneers of video art, at Arts Santa Mònica.

– This year’s event will be backed by a professional programme led by the unique LOOP Fair and the LOOP Talks conference cycle, scheduled for 25 to 26 May 2017.

This year’s Festival programme includes the curatorial consultancy of Eugeni Bonet and Antoni Mercader – an artist and historian, respectively – both prominent scholars of the history of audiovisual art and new media in Spain and coauthors of En torno al vídeo (1980), the first Spanish publication devoted to this format. “Working with them has been a challenge; it’s involved ongoing research with a view to creating a retrospective analysis without obviating the present. From the 18th to the 27th, Barcelona will be breathing video”, concluded Carolina Ciuti, the LOOP Festival Coordinator.

In relation to this 15th retrospective, the curators emphasise that LOOP Barcelona have launched a database of video productions which will be “the start of a process to patrimonialise video art production in our country”, Antoni Mercader added.

The press conference was also attended by Òscar Abril, Director of Cultural Sectors and Innovation at the Institut de Cultura de Barcelona (Barcelona City Council), who stressed that “the festival is breaking new ground by occupying a host of spaces and reaching numerous points in the city”. For her part, Marta Gustà, Area Director of the Institut Català de les Empreses Culturals (Generalitat de Catalunya), pointed up “LOOP’s great capacity for creating context and collaborating with a lot of entities, as well as for training professionals”. The project is also backed by Acción Cultural Española (Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) through the “Guest Section” of its Programme for the Internationalisation of Spanish Culture (Programa de Internacionalización de la Cultura Española – PICE).

Reviewing the Past in Order to Understand the Present and Future

The protagonists of this year’s festival are the leading creators of the genre in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Highlights include installations and screenings by such artists as Eugènia Balcells, David Hall, Beryl Korot, Chip Lord, Mary Lucier, Antoni Muntadas, Nam June Paik, Carles Pujol, Steina and Woody Vasulka, and Peter Weibel, as well as monographic exhibitions dedicated to such key figures as Andy Warhol (with Silver Songs. The Music of Andy Warhol, a set of over sixty record covers from 1949 to 1987 showcasing the history of pop music in the second half of the 20th century and the artist’s most significant moments), Martha Rosler (acclaimed for her videos, photo-texts, performances, installations and art and culture critique), Tony Oursler (a pioneering multimedia artist), Antoni Miralda (renowned for his large-format installations embodying a non-conformist, festive, ornate and kitsch language conjoining art and life), and Robert Cahen (a famous video artist, photographer and composer). Together they will be offering a broad panorama of the myriad uses to which video has been put since its inception.

The event provides a great opportunity for reviewing the work of the pioneers of videographic practices in Spain in the exhibition, “(Re)viewed, (re)visited”, slated for the Arts Santa Mònica. Reviewing, revisiting and rereading the work of Antoni Muntadas, Eugènia Balcells and Carles Pujol from a contemporary perspective enables the spectator to reappraise the value of the oeuvre that has become part of this country’s videoartistic heritage.

The endeavour to reclaim key video works and events on the Spanish scene will also involve recreating the first piece of video art in Spain, Primera mort (1969), by the collective, Jardí del Maduixer, made up of Jordi Galí, Sílvia Gubern, Àngel Jové and Antoni Llena. In a similar vein, the Exhibition of Experimental Videos, originally hosted at the Festival de la Mercè in 1984, which focused on the new artistic practices derived from the advent of television and video recording and included the work of internationally acclaimed artists such as Joan Logue, Michel Jaffrennou and Patrick Bousquet.

Additionally, this look back at the past is rounded off by two other projects – the digitisation of over 70 Spanish video art documents from 1973 to 1990, and the publication of a book, Video Writings by Artists, a compilation of texts by artists regarded as foundational in the history of video art, notably Peter Campus, Douglas Davis, Jon Dovey, David Hall, Antoni Muntadas, Nam June Paik, Martha Rosler, Bill Viola and Peter Weibel, among others.

Further, the main section is complemented by a number of cinema and screening programmes which point up some defining moments in the history of video. Noteworthy are works by such groundbreaking artists as Barbara Aronofsky, Lynda Benglis, Hermin Freed, Suzanne Lacy, Susan Mogul and Linda Montano, sourced from the American Video Data Bank collection, the selection of award-winning videos from the second Sant Sebastián Video Festival (1983) and the marathon dedicated to video performances by Paul McCarthy.

The film cycles also include Preàmbuls. Cinema I Transició/ns, by Luis Miñarro, and the fourth edition of Comment ça va?, curated by Pascale Cassagnau, a collaborative endeavour between LOOP and the CNAP, Paris.

Beyond the Festival – LOOP Fair and LOOP Talks

Year after year, LOOP Barcelona brings together international artists, gallerists, collectors, curators, representatives of institutions, critics and researchers closely linked to images in movement at the LOOP Fair. Here, the major lines of critical thought and research are laid down through a selection of 45 videos and films curated by the Fair committee. LOOP Fair will be hosted from 25 to 26 May at the Hotel Catalonia Ramblas (Pelai, 28. Barcelona), which is transformed for the occasion each year. “Pioneering artists imagine the future. At this Fair we’ll see how current artists are imagining the future in the course of 11 hours of video each day”, says Marta Ramos-Yzquierdo, of LOOP Fair.

LOOP Talks, a programme of talks and conferences, will be held in parallel with LOOP Fair. This year spotlights contemporary video archaeology within the framework of Videotaped, a conversation forum which sets out to promote a contemporary reading of early video creation. Acclaimed pioneer artists from Europe and America, notably Steina and Woody Vasulka, Muntadas, Mary Lucier, Beryl Korot and Chip Lord will be talking to curators from younger generations with the aim of setting up critical, formal connections between past and present, as well as advocating a review of video history, among other things.

Sponsoring Video Art Production and Display

This year marks the third anniversary of the LOOP Discover Award, a LOOP project sponsored by Estrella Damm which sets out to promote and facilitate the professionalisation of video artists after openly convening them from among the international art community. A professional jury will select ten works to be displayed at the old Estrella Damm beer factory for the duration of the Festival, together with the video most voted by the public on the Discover online channel. The award-winner’s name will be announced at the opening session of the exhibition at the old Estrella Damm factory and the artist will receive the €5,000 prize-money.

This year also heralds the third edition of the Video Production Prize, promoted by the Xarxa de Centres d’Arts Visuals de Catalunya, Arts Santa Mònica and LOOP Barcelona. This year’s award winner is Social Body (Anatomy Lesson), by Joan Morey (Majorca, 1972). “This piece regards the body as an individual within society and as part of the performance”, explains its creator, Joan Morey.

Also under the auspices of the LOOP Fair is the Acquisition Award prize-giving ceremony for the best work on display at the Hotel Catalonia Ramblas. The award-winning work is assigned to the MACBA Foundation.

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