First Generation: Art and the Moving Image, 1963-1986

First Generation: Art and the Moving Image, 1963-1986

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

November 27, 2006

First Generation: Art and the Moving Image, 1963-1986
November 7, 2006 – April 2, 2007

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
c/ Santa Isabel, 52
28012 Madrid (Spain)

First Generation: Art and the Moving Image, 1963-1986 has the intention of presenting in a contextualized manner the historic core of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía’s video collection. It has been built up in recent years with the goal of laying solid foundations upon which the collection could grow. Curated by Berta Sichel, director of the Museum’s Audiovisual Department, the exhibition aims to reconstruct a history which has been neglected for a long time via the acquired works and with the support of a small yet significant group of works on loan to cover existing gaps. The exhibition has been organized around the different approaches and ideas of the artists who worked with video during the first 25 years of this medium. These include the inspiration of Fluxus, the critique of commercial television, the relationship between the medium and the viewer, feminism, performance and the legacy of minimalism and conceptual art.

Not a thematic exhibition, it does not try to follow a strict chronological order either. Rather, it is a vision of how and why a technology of recording, broadcasting and reproducing sound and images, which emerged in 1950 and technically different than cinema became an artistic medium. It is also a study of the influence technology and mass culture on the social and artistic changes of an era, at a time when cultural acceleration and the cross-pollination of ideas was beginning. In this sense, the year l963 is a landmark for the history of video. Wolf Vostell showed for the first time the installation 6 TV Dé-Coll/age at Smolin Gallery, New York City. Nam June Paik, then living in Germany, had his first exhibition at Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal. Music Electronic Television consisted of twelve altered TV sets, four adapted pianos in the same spirit of John Cage and, in the most genuine Fluxus Spirit, the head of a freshly-slaughtered ox hanging above the gallery’s entrance.

1986 was not chosen randomly as the final year. In this timeframe a group of artists from the first generation had achieved international recognition and the young artists started to work in much larger media arts practices, using a wide range of hybrids which have opened a new chapter in the history of art and moving images. The mid 1980s also reflected a change in criticism, with theories of postmodernism and post colonialism raising questions of historiography and subjectivity. Consequently, the year this exhibition closes the term video art was already considered historic.

To tell this story, the exhibition diplays 32 video installations by the main artists belonging to this first generation: Eugènia Balcells, Dara Birnbaum, Jaime Davidovich, Juan Downey, VALIE EXPORT, Rafael França, David Hall, Gary Hill, Takahiko iimura, Joan Jonas, Shigeko Kubota, Thierry Kuntzel, David Lamelas, Mary Lucier, Antoni Muntadas, Nam June Paik, Ulrike Rosenbach, Carolee Schneemann, Ira Schneider, Bill Viola, Wolf Vostell, Roger Welch, Robert Whitman and Hannah Wilke; as well as 14 single-channel projections by: Marina Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Joseph Beuys, Peter Campus, Douglas Davis, Anna Bella Geiger, Joan Logue, Ana Mendieta, Marta Minujín, Bruce Nauman, Otto Piene and Joan Rabascall/Benet Rossell.

The exhibition closes as it opens: with works by Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell. Mirage Stage (1986) by Paik, and a video recording of his performance with the cellist Charlotte Moorman, made by Otto Piene the same year; and New York Stuhl (l976) by Vostell that immerses us in a state of total amnesia about the origin of information.

A reference area consisting of 80 single-channel videos in a database complements the content of the show. This format allows visitors to make their own connections and discoveries, to interpret and reinterpret the history of the first generation of video artists, and to arrive at a new understanding of video work from its beginnings up to 1986.

For more information and photographic material please contact:
e-mail:, tel: 34 91 774 1005, fax: 34 91 774 1009

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Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
November 27, 2006

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