Visualcontainer is one of the first non profit platform founded in Italy with the aim to promote the videoart and make the public aware that technology is not a language but a means of expression.
It was in 1998 when an exhibition of large video projections by Bill Viola was presented at the Whitney Museum of New York and then to Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Frankfurt. The exhibition made a point in accelerating the globalization of art, announcing the crisis of the western exhibition system which was characterized by a geographic localization and an historical settling in the territory. The exhibition manifested also an in-depth cultural change in the contemporary art that, according with the fitting definition by Nicolas Bourriaud, expressed the passage from the conception of the “site-specific” artwork of ’60ies to the “time-specific” artworks of today. The experience of duration, time, political and social implications and the ways trough which the art can be elaborated, are the principal problems around which a generation of artists that work with different supports recognize themselves, without hierarchy connections between ephemeral action, video, sculpture or installation. The union space-image, and consequently the relation between body perception and technological mediation, is one of the languages more commonly used in contemporary art.
The generation of Buckingham, Cardiff, Douglas, Gordon, McQueen, Oursler and Pippilotti Rist confirms the tendency of the artistic language to focus on the experience of the viewer: the installation becomes a necessary practice to realize images characterized by psychological intensity or connoted by a critical reflection on the given representations. Despite the proliferation, even in academic courses, of “visual cultures”, at present, in Italy, there are only few institutions that support the promotion of these semionaut-artists, inventors of an unreleased track of images through new technologies. VisualContainer in Milan is one of these realities: established in 2008 as a non-profit cultural association, it is a distributor of video art that works to promote Italian video artists to the general public, just as it happens with international distributors that have been active for decades. VisualContainer was born from the initial idea of Giorgio Fedeli and Alessandra Arnò; now the project has been expanded over the distributor and a web-channel of international video art has been founded together with an exhibition space in Milan. The principal issue to be faced in Italy – in addition to the dissemination and sharing of content of the videos which VisualContainer, for example, provides through an online catalog – is the request of video art works for exhibitions and events, even only for free. This request indicates that there is an Italian cultural gap in the consideration of the artistic content of the video art work and the incomprehension of the general public regarding the conceptual relation between the video and the exhibition modality of installation.
The debate about the specific problems of copyright, preservation and archiving of video art saw the central participation of VisualContainer: “There is a law in Italy, unenforceable, – explains Arnò – which foresees the preservation of audio visual works at state and regional clubs. Surely it is a matter that not many people know, not only for those who work in the art world, but also to those who promulgate the laws.” Likewise problematic is the market of video art in Italy, that is yet to be created: “With the current economic crisis the galleries have more difficulties, and works of video art are always the most difficult to sell. As a first videoart Italian distributor, I can say that we are trying to open a new market. Certainly the potential of the video is currently untapped; in the future , instead, there could be a good chance for a change of tendency.” Among the partners of VisualContainer there is ARTVERONA and Bibiloteca Civica di Verona for VideoArtVerona , DOCVA in Milan, Bologna Yearbook Video Art Festival and the Museum of Nocciano. Alessandra Arnò:”Abroad, the network of collaborations and partnerships is much broader: apart from the distributors with whom we collaborate, we move from established partnerships with leading international video art festival in Marseille, Rennes, Varna, Den Haag, Cologne, Madrid , Cuzco, Moscow, Oslo, Marrakesh, Buenos Aires. We collaborate and partner with museums, universities and galleries of Oradea, Beijin, Yerevan, Montreal, Philadelphia, London, Lugano and Bellinzona. This year we have also started a project, with the support of the European Parliament, presented for the first time in Italy.”
The Italian and foreign artists promoted by VisualContainer have achieved important recognition: Gruzei Katharina, Eva Koch and Slawomir Milewski to name only some, and then Pier Giorgio De Pinto, who explores the relationship between technology, interaction and social device, Barbara Allen, Silvia Camporesi, Rita Casdia, Sabrina Saturday, Enzo Umbaca. The investigations of these video artists have in common the ratio of the technological experimentation, they are aware that technology is not a language, but a way to express their thought; many of them have been working on ecological issues and introspective themes; often through their works they suggest a dialectic between advanced techniques and out of fashion, between past and future possibilities of the medias. Each one with its own aesthetic and poetics, addresses the fundamental transformations of experience and subjectivity in contemporary society, more and more often routed through imaging devices, a subjectivity that has learned not only to survive but also to flourish on technological shocks.
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