Last Friday night I was at the opening reception for “Time Arts Continuum” at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, 839 S. 5th Street. I confess that I am not a fan of video art, but I was determined to attend the opening because the description of the reception noted it would include “a performance in conjunction with Dean Valadez’s installation.” A performance? I had to check this out. It sounded like performance art to me.
I arrived and (I will go to hell for this) I was not excited by the video work. I appreciated that the label for Valadez’s piece included the duration of the two paired videos: eight minutes and twelve seconds. One of the things that bothers me about video art is how you enter the gallery and have no idea how long the piece is and whether you are seeing the beginning, middle, or the end. I don’t feel I’m being respected.
I kept returning to Valadez’s installation, “I Wish I Were Here II,” waiting for the performance to start. Impatient (I’ll go to hell for this too), I found Mary Overman, WPCA’s PR/Marketing/ Membership Coordinator. I asked her whether the performance was over. She smiled and said the performance was happening and she’d help me figure it out. She led me back to the the front gallery and suggested I look a bit closer.
As part of the installation, there are two large cardboard boxes. One is attached to the wall and you see a clothed male human form from the shoulders down hanging from inside it. On the floor is the other box with two sets of clothed legs sticking out. Sure enough, one of the shoes was twitching just a bit. A live guy was inside there.
I’m an idiot; I wouldn’t have figured it out without help.
The show, and Valadez’ installation, is worth seeing, though the two sets of legs sticking out from the box on the floor will both be “fake” now.
Valadez and I have emailed since the opening, and it was refreshing to hear he has conceptual issues with some of today’s video art and wanted to engage non-video audiences. He wrote, “While my video has an overarching narrative, it also was constructed as a montage so that conversations between video elements can be related to the photographic still images adhered to the wall – in that sense, I sought a balance between ‘video’ art and ‘non-video’ art.”
I learned a new word from Valadez: collocation. It has to do with a particular arrangement or juxtaposition of elements. Valadez purposefully repeats imagery from the videos in the installation because “the collocation of like imagery between the video and the photos and the legs is similar to photo or painting installs and thus deal with visual rhyme.”
I am also impressed with Valadez’ sensitivity about video monitors in gallery spaces. “I often times find myself bored with videos that simply have monitors setup without interacting with the gallery space or that don’t activate that third space – the intangible atmosphere that circumnavigates itself around the viewer, “ he emailed. This is an issue for me too. I hate TV in the fairly comprehensive Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, by Jerry Mander, kind of way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Arguments_for_the_Elimination_of_Television
It is troubling for me to think about there being “art” on monitors. By being on a monitor, I question whether it is art.
For a full preview of “Time Arts Continuum,” check out this story by Judith Ann Moriarty on Third Coast Digest: http://thirdcoastdigest.com/2012/05/time-arts-continuum-at-walkers-point/