Photo Essays

Paying Attention at Moving Image 2011

by Kyle Chayka on March 5, 2011

The entrance to Moving Image (all photos by author)

The first thing that I noticed about Moving Image, an art fair based entirely around video works, was the relative calm. Gone were the crowds, gone were the collectors running rabidly from booth to booth, gone were the chatty gallerists and curators. Moving Image is a place to look at art and experience it one on one. It takes some time, but walking through the videos I definitely caught a few stand out pieces that would have been overwhelmed in a regular art fair display.

Set in the gigantic tunnel that normally plays host to several contemporary art galleries, including one of the fair’s driving forces, Winkleman gallery, the unidirectional space pretty much forces viewers to progress through the fair piece by piece, no booths to grab your attention away from a quiet piece. In the front of the tunnel are placed several larger installation pieces that luxuriate in space, no one interfering with another. Further back is a two-rowed grid of smaller works displayed on TV screens, headphones dangling from the bottom.

While I liked Moving Image’s layout, there were still about as many duds as any other art fair. Not every video could hold viewers’ attention spans long enough. While every video was sure to have a tag with artist, title and gallery, the descriptive text that went along with most pieces was utterly laughable, with more curatorial buzzwords than actual logic. Check out my highlights from the show below. Note: insets in the photos are stills from the videos shown.

Winkleman gallery had the first video installation in the show with Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev’s “Trans Siberian Amazons,” composed of Chinese plastic traveling bags (instantly familiar) and three video screens, two documenting trans-Siberian train travel (I assume) and one of an old Kyrgyzstani woman singing. Sometimes a Chinese-looking woman crept in to the frame.

/ kc

Jim Campbell’s “Exploded View” shown by Bryce Wolkowitz gallery was mesmerizing, a 3D grid of lights that darkened and lit to show the silhouettes of walking human figures move through the created space. Stoneriffic.

/ kc

Glen Fogel’s “With Me… You” saw the artist taking ring heirlooms that belong to the women in his family, mounting them on gyroscopic displays and filming them. The glistening metal reflected starbursts of light that created a disco vibe. This work was totally fabulous in an over-the-top way, but the bruised and time-worn rings also brought to mind a kind of material matriarchy.

/ kc

Corban Walker’s “TV Man” (2010) was an exactly life-size video replica of the artist, standing in one place. Kind of like Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present” performance, this piece made the artist the subject of attention and the subject of the work. Though the label text said it was chiefly about the artist’s height, it also made me think of artist-audience conflicts and confrontations.

/ kc

The further back section of the fair (less expensive for galleries, I assume), was host to a a grid of tv monitors playing smaller, less installation-driven pieces. It was a pleasantly open layout, but desperately needed more chairs and couches to watch the videos comfortably.

/ kc

Simon Gush’s excellent “In the Company Of”, presented by Netherlandish space West, showed teams of immigrants to Belgium playing a soccer game across a set of railroad tracks. Frustrating to watch, the wall keeps sticking in the rails and bouncing out of bounds. The work is the complicated space of cultural negotiation, the difficulties and impossibilities of total integration. I thought this was one of the most successful works on view.

/ kc

David Wojnarowicz’s “Heroin”, shown by PPOW gallery, picks up on the current buzz surrounding the artist’s work after the Smithsonian scandal. Not as outwardly shocking as “A Fire in My Belly”, this is a weirded-out PSA whose brevity makes it at least evocative, if not informative or finished.

/ kc

Most psychedelic work goes to Miranda Lichtenstein’s “Danse Serpentine (doubled and Refracted)”. The artist appropriated a Lumiere brothers’ clip from YouTube and re-filmed it in HD, turning the lo-fi copy into an explosion of light and color. Hope this one goes back on YouTube.

/ kc

Andres Laracuente’s “Timepiece” (2008) used an aged voice actress as subject, and ceaselessly sprayed water at her as she mouthed words. The water represented “time” building up. Notable for its seemingly sincere use of a straightforward narrative symbol. You mean it’s not irony!?

/ kc

Shana Moulton’s “Galactic Pot Healer” (2010) was far and away my favorite work in the fair. Part children’s TV show (think Blues Clues), part surreal fable, part home and gardening show, this video takes the same name as Philip K. Dick’s novel, as well as the conceit of a person who can heal pottery. A woman accidentally knocks over her favorite ceramic pot. She receives a message in a pill-capsule that a galactic pot healer can help her. She goes to the galactic pot healer’s spa, but the pot healer says that the pot is too broken. The healer suggests a healthy massage instead. The pot healer then sculpts a new pot out of the woman’s bared back. Funny and oddly poignant, also remarkable for its unique, lo-fi visual language.

/ kc

Stefan Constantinescu’s “Troleibuzul 92” is a fascinating little narrative trip. A man speaks on his cell phone next to an older woman on a public bus. Listening to his one-sided conversation, we glimpse a violent relationship, a possible rape, a dominating power dynamic. This makes me want to see more from the artist.

/ kc

Guggenheim YouTube biennial star Martin Kohout’s “Moonwalk” (2008) video was also here in the fair, an endless ladder of YouTube progress bars. Neat, but I think we’ve all seen it too much before. Not exactly a game-changer.

/ kc

Glen Fogel’s “Quarry” (2008) appropriated a Law and Order TV clip showing a pedophile sniffing baseball caps and identifying the boys they belong to by their smell while a detective looks on. The artist matches the clip screen for screen and investigates the social conflation of pedophilia and homosexuality, attempting to exorcise it from the original.

/ kc

Each time I see Hiraki Sawa’s “Dwelling” (2002), it gets better. A placid video that sees tiny animated airplanes flying through the air of a plain, run-down apartment, the work is a visual daydream that drifts towards escapism. A hallucinatory intimation of how we all want to leave where we are.

/ kc

In case you were curious, these are what Moving Image’s headphones look like. Some couches visible behind that, but not enough seating in front of the videos! How else will we hang out long enough?

/ kc

The information desk at Moving Image. Gallerists didn’t have to hang out at the fairs; should there be an inquiry, the fair staff texted them. Or something. There was a gallerist “lounge” that looked pretty decent though.

/ kc

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