There are several reasons why video art is underexposed. Part of it has to do with the hard-to-shake reputation that video art is just too campy and esoteric — an opinion espoused by Jack Donaghy and anyone else who believes that art is exclusively paintings of men on horses. Another reason is the attitude that of a lot of influential, opinionated video artists share: they simply aren’t comfortable offering their wares to just anyone, and would rather sell the things they’ve made on glitzy-looking DVDs to a few collectors and museums, as they would a painting or a sculpture.
Still other video artists are concerned that their work might be misidentified as films. This anxiety leads them to seek out venues for their work (warehouse art galleries and hard-to-find back-room viewing rooms) that will grant them the power to have it appreciated on its own terms. Artists may care about a disembodied feel of a projected work in a more open-air setting, or they may want to take advantage of the sculptural qualities of placing one or many TV monitors in the gallery space. For genuine aesthetic reasons, many great works of video art are not meant to be seen on someone’s TV or laptop at home.
But a lot of them can be. For anyone who is enamored with film or remains a devotee of performance, video art can be like a happy marriage between the two. The great works of video art that are available to watch online are like a never-ending museum that is always growing and never closes. This collection should serve as a compact introduction to video art for anyone who’s uninitiated or a handy compilation for anyone who loves the medium but has some trouble finding the good stuff online. Enjoy!
Gillian Wearing, 2 into 1, 1997
One of the most fascinating video artists working today is Gillian Wearing, whose trademark approach involves creating hyper-realistic masks for her subjects, often shuffling them so that their voices and mannerisms take on antithetical identities to the people we see on the screen. People are really honest when they speak to Wearing and her camera, and in the above example, the resulting anecdotes about filial cruelty can be as heartbreaking as they are weird and original.