Re-viewing the past: three new shows of video art

Published 29 February 2016

RA Magazine takes a look at three shows of video art that reinvent the documentary form.

  • Omer Fast: Present Continuous

    Baltic, Gateshead, 18 March–26 June 2016
    Berlin-based artist-filmmaker Omer Fast tells social and political stories with consistent rigour. CNN Concatenated (2002) knits a video collage of one-word snippets, clipped from news channel CNN’s broadcasts, to reflect upon society’s relationship with 24/7 news. More recent works in his Baltic retrospective include Continuity (Diptych) (2012-15), in which a middle-aged couple displace the loss of their son to war by inviting surrogate young men into their lives. And a new installation Spring (2015) offers multiple perspectives on a political assassination, with the drama shot from various angles on mobile phones, putting the political in the hands and minds of the viewer.

  • Omer Fast: CNN Concatenated

    2002/1 channel video/Colour, sound/18’ Courtesy Omer Fast and gb agency, Paris

  • John Akomfrah: Vertigo Sea

    Arnolfini, Bristol, until 10 April
    John Akomfrah’s socially and politically engaged art has gained momentum over three decades. A member of the now-disbanded Black Audio Film Collective (1982–98), he directed the acclaimed 1986 TV documentary Handsworth Songs on the 1985 Birmingham riots and has been more recently celebrated for an installation, and later cinematic adaptation, on the life of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall.

    His three-screen video installation Vertigo Sea (2015) now at the Arnolfini (and travelling to Turner Contemporary, Margate and the Whitworth, Manchester), is a meditation on our relationship to the sea, ecology and African diaspora, mixing archival and new footage into a haunting, contemplative narrative.

  • An extract from 'Vertigo Sea' by John Akomfrah

    Courtesy Lisson Gallery

  • Elizabeth Price: Contemporary Art Society Award

    Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 18 March – 15 May 2016
    In works such as Sleep (2014), Turner Prize- winning video artist Elizabeth Price has collected and combined depictions of seemingly unrelated objects, sounds, texts and other paraphernalia, in punchy, attention-grabbing videos. At the Ashmolean, the documents and photographs of archaeologist and former custodian of the museum, Arthur Evans, are employed by Price in a new digital narrative. Evans is best known for his excavation of the Bronze Age site of Knossos on Crete – bringing the past into the present, Price gives a contemporary twist to his archive.

    Steven Cairns is a writer and an associate curator at the ICA, London


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