A NON-U-MENTAL HISTORY OF M HKA – Part 3: Classical Rewind
M HKA, Antwerp
22 January 2022 - 23 April 2022
On the occasion of fifty years of avant-garde art in Antwerp, various aspects of the Internationaal Cultureel Centrum (International Cultural Centre – ICC) are highlighted in a series of exhibitions1. The third part of this programme focusses on video. In the early 1970s, the ICC was one of the first places in Belgium to feature video and film activities. In 1974, Flor Bex also founded the first Belgian video studio for artists, Continental Video2. In addition to presentation and production, the ICC offered a platform to think and talk about video in the visual arts3.
This presentation showcases the work of five pioneers: Lili Dujourie, Dan Graham, Lea Lublin, Ludo Mich , Marie-Jo Lafontaine. It testifies to the fun the artists had with the new medium during the 1970s, as well as showing the early discoveries they made using it.
In Hommage à…I from 1972, one of Lili Dujourie's first video works, we see a naked woman tossing and turning in and out of bed. Here, the classical nude is interpreted by the artist herself, Dujourie's poses referring to known works from art history. The camera is static, there is no editing or sound. As the video progresses, the black and white images take on a sculptural quality.
Using video technics, Dan Graham tests the concept of time against the psychology of perception. The diptych Two Rooms Reverse Video Delay is a design sketch for an installation similar to his interactive installation exhibited at the ICC in 1974, that allowed spectators to perceive themselves – as well as an earlier version of themselves – through monitors and mirrors. In his early installations, Graham often used a closed-circuit video system, with the signal from the monitor being transmitted per wire to a limited number of receivers.
From a socio-political angle, linked with conceptual tendencies in the arts, a different use of the video medium emerges, emphasising creation rather than material results. Video is mainly used here to register creative processes (and performances). During her 1975 solo exhibition at the ICC, Lea Lublin took to the streets with a camera asking people questions about art in a journalistic-documentary manner.
The 1970s are characterised by a wave of democratisation that offers artists the opportunity to react against the elitist nature of galleries and museums. Because of its immediacy, video seems to be the appropriate medium, but not many projects are realised, due to a shortage of financial and material resources. In the winter of 1975 Ludo Mich was able to shoot his feature film Lysistrata in the basement of the ICC. Costs are saved by having the actors, members of the Antwerp art world, act naked.
Monitors are also being used in sculptural ways. La Batteuse de Palplanches, a 1979 work by Marie-Jo Lafontaine, is a relatively simple arrangement in which the same video is played on horizontally and vertically placed monitors. The sound video shows repetitive images of a pile-driver driving a pile wall into the ground.
At argos, the Brussels centre for audiovisual arts, the ICC's video and film mode of operation will be placed in a broader art historical and social context this autumn. The multi-year research project, The 1970s, charts Belgium's unique film and video pioneers for the first time. The story of Antwerp and Liège as the hotbeds of audiovisual production in the 1970s is complemented by the presentation of a number of underexposed local and international exhibitions from that period. The ambitious opening up of the research results – in addition to an exhibition and a publication, lectures and screenings are also programmed – also explores the material-technical side and the circumstances in which these works were initially shown.
You can find more information on the research project at: argosarts.org/research
1 Founded in 1969 and closed in 1998, the ICC was the first contemporary art institution in Flanders. It was housed in the stately Royal Palace, in the centre of Antwerp. At a time when traditional museums failed to meet the needs of contemporary art, in the 1970s and 1980s, the ICC provided a platform for the production and presentation of diverse disciplines and crossovers between different art forms. The programming focused on local and international contemporary artists, and many installation and concept artists found their way to the ICC.
2 The name refers to the 1973 Eerste Continentale Film- en Videotoer [First Continental Film and Video Tour], which had traveled through the Netherlands and Belgium at the initiative of the Artworker Foundation (primarily with Hugo Heyrman).
3 One of the most important debates on video as an artistic medium that took place in that context was organised in 1976 at the 5th International 'Encounter on Video'.
First presentation: A NON-U-MENTAL HISTORY OF M HKA – Part 1: Foundation Gordon Matta-Clark
Second presentation: A NON-U-MENTAL HISTORY OF M HKA – Part 2: What must be heard
Items View all
Wat is kunst? [What is Ar...
Léa Lublin, Wat is kunst? [What is Art?], 1977. Installation, cloth, 198 x 292 cm.
Two Rooms Reverse Video D...
Dan Graham, Two Rooms Reverse Video Delay, 1974. Mixed Media, tweeluik in plexi, 77 x 103 cm.
La Batteuse de palplanche...
Marie-Jo Lafontaine, La Batteuse de palplanches [The Piling Rig], 1979. Installation, dvd, 00:59:57.