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Moving images

Max Mueller Bhavan treated Bangaloreans to some stunning video art



Even some Bangaloreans found a place in the exhibition.

VIDEO ART has been in vogue in the west for more than three decades. Television, for all its advantages of real-time reportage and immediacy, was seen to have deteriorated into a bundle of institutionalised propaganda, commercials and Hollywood kitsch. Responding to this situation, many artists, who felt that the moving image was better than painted/printed picture, started taking up video projects. In this medium of moving images, they would not only make use of the enormous technical opportunities for constructing alternative frameworks for art, but also creatively express their visual and emotional feelings, ideas and concerns.

Metaphorical messages

Thus, in the early instances of video art, the "messages" were often implicit and metaphoric, clearly transgressing the boundaries of a formal aesthetic and standing as signs of a political independence outside the confines of both orthodox modernism and institutionalised television.

The popularity of this art form in Germany can be gauged by the fact that the bi-annual Marl Video Art Award, instituted by the Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten, Marl, entered its 20th year in 2001, providing extensive media exposure and a public platform for video art, video installation and sound art. The award-winning works, together with other entries, are taken around the world by the Goethe Institute.

As part of this initiative, Max Mueller Bhavan had organised German Video Art 2000-2002 (The Marl Video Art Competition) last week, bringing a package of 21 short films, treating viewers to some fine examples of video art.

The award-winning 27-second film, Skip And Return by Jan Verbeek, presented its protagonist leaping from stone to stone, shouting to the skies with delight. The title of the work refers to his coming back where he started, after jumping over ditches, walls, streets and squares.

The special award winning films included Shooter, which documented the contradictions between virtual and lived realities by placing different people in front of a computer monitor and, Jingle Jungle, where Hartmut Jahn combined pictures and sounds to interpret a television jingle. The Oral Thing, which received a special mention of the jury, was a bitterly sarcastic video-satire about public confessions seen on daytime chat shows in the U.S.

A video lapped up by the audience was Bollywood Scratches, where loops taken from classical and current Indian films were overlaid and rearranged with abstract trails of light in order to interact and disintegrate audio and visual impulses.

Other interesting films presented during the event included P.I (Personal Identity), featuring the dancer Pedro Ines, 7 Minutes, where a stationary camera captures the goings on outside a petrol station, Move, a breathtaking three-minute film showing a dancing woman through rapidly changing virtual rooms, and Uri, showing a digitally manipulated group of spectators watching a public performance.

Moving Day by Susanne Kutter was a real stunner. The 28-minute film had a living room set up in a construction container and loaded into a lorry. As the vehicle moves and rolls over potholes, the living room furnishings — including cupboard, desk, television, sofa, book shelves, picture frames, lamps, carpets, flower vases and wine glasses — sway and fall into an exasperating mess.

Local talents

What made the event more interesting was that it also provided a platform to some Bangalore-based artists to showcase their works. Babu Eshwar Prasad's delightful lampooning work, Twentieth Century Horse, Kiran Subbaiah's Flight Rehearsals and Concealments (Extracts), which revealed his unique brand of parody and playfulness, Suresh Jayaram's Eye For An Eye exposing some socio-political anxiety, and Ayisha Abraham's Film Tales, evoking nostalgic feelings through old film tapes, were some of the worthwhile efforts on show.

ATHREYA

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