This fall Barcelona was treated to a "tasting menu" of new video art courtesy of Loop 04, Nov 18-21, 2004, the new international art fair launched in 2000 and devoted exclusively to video art. Organized by the Asociación Art Barcelona, the fair housed 57 galleries from 14 countries in suites at the Barceló Hotel Sants. A related festival called Off Loop 04 presented video works by 200 more artists at over 150 sites throughout the city, from galleries and museums to shops, bars, and restaurants.
Even though the level of sales didn't inspire universal enthusiasm, everyone complemented the fair on its organization and high standards. Most dealers were happy to take part in the historic event, and enjoyed the immersion in video art that marked life in Barcelona during the fair.
The Loop 04 Prize was given to Cruise, a ca. eight-minute-long computer-generated video made by Catherine Van Eetvelde in collaboration with poet Abigail Lang that was presented by Tanit Gallery from Munich. The complex animation of maps and pencil-drawn images is set to the soundtrack of one of Lang's poems. The narrative piece explores the theme of the universal system of signs and the process of articulating them.
Another prize, this one given by the Association of Friends of the Catalonian Museums, went to Lalo's Story, a work by artist Fikret Atay, presented by the Parisian Galerie Chantal Crousel. Crousel also showed My Soul of Hunter at Play, a work by the provocative Spanish photographer Alberto Garcia-Alix.
London's Anthony Reynolds Gallery showed a work by the Estonian artist Kai Kaljo in which she casts herself as an artist speaking of her work before a ridiculing audience -- a piece aptly titled Loser. I-20 from New York brought Yale grad Timothy Hutchings' video, A Lark in the Larkin, which was just finished in time for the fair. Literally a "period piece," Lark is full of references ranging across the entire history of film. With the artist himself playing all the characters, the piece brings to life the egoistical dream of being able to play every role.
The ever-youthful Body Art veteran Marina Abramovic was represented by her video Self-portrait with Skeleton in the room shared by La Fábrica from Madrid and Ernst Hilger in Vienna. (Stills from the same video were on view at Sean Kelly Gallery at the Armory Show in New York in 2004.) One of Abramovic's students, the Berlin-based artist Jan Eilhardt, showed a work titled Dance that is in transition between performance, theater and film. It was on view in the suite occupied by M+R Fricke, a gallery with spaces in both Berlin and Dsseldorf.
The New York gallery Roebling Hall brought to mind 9/11 with its presentation of Solace by Eve Sussman, in which reality and fiction meet at a Brooklyn breakfast table in late September 2001. Close by, and apropos, Galeria Magda Belloti was showing Fernando Baena's In Memoriam, his video reaction to the 3/11 attacks in Madrid.
Moisés Perez de Albéniz from Pamplona sold a copy of Antoni Muntadas' On Translation: On View, presented earlier at Location One, to the Caixa Forum, a triumph. Muntadas has been concerned about social issues for decades, and he addresses in this work the metamorphosis of values and ideas, and the re-adaptation of information and power due to the constant international flow. The gallery also showed Stalker: Crossing Bridges, a digital video by Txuspo Poyo that is unusual in that it incorporates 3D technology. The Basque gallery Vanguardia from Bilbao was also showing another work by Txuspo, as well as Real Time Paintings by the Argentinean New Yorker, Jaime Davidovich.
The Japanese dealer Sueo Mitsuma of the Mizuma Art Gallery had one of the fair's more elaborate pieces, the drawing animation The Evening Traveling by Akino Kondoh, a DVD that could be had for the very affordable price of €300. Barcelona's Galeria Joan Prats presented the video work Habla by Jaime Peafiel, where images and sound play an alternating game between genres and senses. Galeria Dels Angels introduced the Barcelonan artist Jaime Pitarch with Me, Myself and I, which focuses on observing the order of everyday life.
The Madrid gallery Vacio 9 pleased us with the cookin' rhythm of Coccion by the French artist Li Romani. Simultaneously, DNA -- Die Neue Aktionsgalerie -- from Berlin showed a piece by Mariana Vassileva, Jumping Man, in which the protagonist attempts to fulfill the human desire to fly. Susy Gomez, who is well known for large photographs marked with Ab-Ex-sized swaths of paint, also projected one of her esthetic video works, Parcours par Coeur, at Horrach Moya Galeria's suite. Llucia Homs and Haim Chanim Fine Arts presented works by Priscilla Monge and Ariadna Capasso.
The work of the internationally known team of Anthony Aziz and Sammy Cucher was on view at Galería Trama of Barcelona and Madrid. In Synaptic Bliss they explore the relation between interior and exterior and the organic and inorganic. Parker's Box Gallery from Brooklyn's Williamsburg art district presented Tere Recarens' Besenrein, a piece that had also been exhibited in ARCO in 2004.
The famous Spanish cinema director Bigas Luna (called by some the Russ Meyer of Spain) was shown by Barcelona's Galeria Metropolitana, with a piece representative of a special new technology -- a computer in the shape of a painting in which the video piece is in the hard drive. The two are sold together, for about €6,000.
The Helsinki-based artist Sari Tervaniemi showed a video installation in the room of Barcelona's Theredoom Galería d'Art that had a noticeably strong theme. Titled The Vanishing Scheme, the installation enacts a woman's encounters with different men as a kind of dream that starts out playfully but gradually grows more violent, until she needs to free herself from it. It can be seen as the survival story relating directly to the social games of power.
Galerie Synopsism, from Lausanne, showed an installation work by the talented Swiss artist Rébecca S. Called Where the Suns Are Rising, the video speaks in a very hypnotic way about the relationship of men and women. The Paris Galerie Rabouan Moussion brought an interdisciplinary piece by Pierrick Sorin that is part installation and part film, in which a thick iron box is the viewing medium for two separate video works cropped and projected inside.
The subject of the chambermaid -- appropriate for an event held in a hotel -- was the subject of more than one work. In Runa Islam's video Room Service, presented by Galeria Pilar Parra, the maids not only prepare the room but also consume the service. Galeria Safia, from Barcelona, showed the work of Joan Ill, where the maid actually translates her duties into a neo-ritualistic performance.
One of the most virtuous pieces at the fair was without a doubt Deu Dits by artist Frederic Amat, on view at Carles Taché Gallery from Barcelona. As the title suggests, Amat's tape presents a ten-minute study of the versatile expression of two hands, belonging to the actress Teresa Calafell, who as it happens has collaborated in the past with Antonio Tapies, Roberto Matta and Antonio Saura, among other artists. In this work, her hands prove to be captivating, indeed.