"We were robbed."
That's what I-20 owner Paul Judelson told me at a high-end Tribeca party for Smock magazine last week.
"One of our projectors was installed on a low shelf," Paul continued, "and the perp just cut the cable and walked out with it."
The thief left the DVD, however, and the gallery had difficulty immediately replacing the stolen equipment, thus traumatizing artist Kiki Seror, whose challenging installation was partly knocked out during a week when she was picked as a Village Voice "choice."
Though visibly disturbed, Paul Judelson seemed resigned to theft as a consequence of being a video-oriented gallery. I-20 was also a victim of equipment theft in Berlin last year.
Cost, quality, security, insurance and installation are all difficult problems for galleries in the aborning medium of video/digital, which threaten to overwhelm the mere content of the artist.
Top-of-the-line equipment and sparkling installation are a must. Witness Annika Larsson's current show at Andrea Rosen, a fave of Artforum and the New York Times.
This weak, arch, postintellectual piece, divided into two large rooms, is obviated by a perfect high-tech installation, which fills the wall with sparkling image resolution.
Similarly, Feigen Contemporary has done wonders with Jeremy Blake, streaming his pieces along long, sleek walls with comfortable benches in front.
Roberta Smith is one critic who assiduously, and commendably, views every video piece completely in one sitting, often more than once.
Shouldn't the gallery go out of its way to accommodate Roberta, just like your local stadium seating multiplex?
Yet a gallery such as Stux, not a video specialist, dumps its often excellent video curations on small screens in a hallway!
An exceptionally intelligent young artist Jonathan Calm highlights the pitfalls of video installation in his first solo show at Chelsea's Caren Golden gallery, just opened.
Calm's digital take on the Universal Product Code was the best piece in David Hunt's curated show at the same gallery last summer. What Jonathan does is digitally crosshatch LeWittian Minimalism (in black) onto emotional images of the African Diaspora on Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn, video so good that it invites comparison to the giant, David Hammons.
So, what's the problem? Last summer's piece was in the back gallery, but instead of giving Calm the whole doglegged space to stretch out, Caren Golden is showing conventional drawings by another artist in the back! One suspects that nervousness about how to sell video art caused this installation blunder.
Calm's pieces comprise a video on the best equipment (cost) next to a single photo related to the video as part of each piece.
Yet, video and photo are sold separately, not as a unit. These are complex works, meant to stimulate the buyer through their content and their visual architecture, but the gallery doesn't seem to get this.
Calm's competent but underwhelming sculpture unnecessarily adds to the clutter.
Maybe, when sharp new director Rebekah Merrill starts work this week, Jonathan can reinstall his show, using the whole Caren Golden space.
Well, video artists can dream, can't they, of the boxed Cremaster sets complete with Matthew Barney action figures that are the cream of the video dream.
Everyone else is still learning.