Red Koi Reviews

See what I've seen, hear what I've heard

Centre Pompidou Video Art 1965-2005

Posted by redkoireviews on 08/01/2007

Baltimore 2003This exhibition of video art spanning forty years is showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art as part of the Sydney Festival. It surprised me to find that artists have been using video and moving images for art for so long – about as long as the format has existed. Some of the early works felt a bit like the artist was still getting comfortable with the tools – a bit like a great painter’s early photographs. In the later works there’s more of a sense that the artist is totally comfortable with the technical bits, which means the viewer is left to focus on the creative aspect of the work, without being distracted.

Of the earlier works, my favourite was a piece by Samuel Beckett, most famous for his plays. Four differently coloured figures enter his minimalist stage one at a time, looking at first to be moving randomly, but as the four come together, creating a very symmetrical, rhythmic pace. He makes very good use of sound and movement – which is exactly the benefit of video over still art.

Some other early pieces draw on optical illusions to draw the viewer into the work itself. The best example of this involves a glass pane in which you can see a colour reflection of yourself and a monochrome negative at the same time.

Of the newer pieces, Baltimore 2003 is stunning. Unlike so many of the earlier works, this is not an experiment with a new medium, but a purposeful, directed, power piece of mood and atmosphere. The style reminded me of Hal Hartley’s directing style. I loved it.

The piece examining the ‘three memories’ of a failed bank robbery also hit the mark, using video to examine how film takes the reality (memory 1) and converts it into the quite different ‘reality’ of the media (memory 2), then finally fictionalises it into a movie (memory 3). Excellent stuff.

The exhibition is free, so take your time, come back for another taste if you are overwhelmed in the first time.

I feel like I’ve been spoilt by Melbourne’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image. It’s a dedicated video art gallery / museum. I’ve seen some truly stunning stuff there in the past.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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