Gerry Schum and arte povera As part of the Winter Video Days programme

01.12.2023 - 03.12.2023 • / Screening - Villa Paloma

Photogramme de Gerry Schum, Identifications, 1970

Video art and digital art are relatively recent additions to the field of contemporary art. Both are particularly innovative 21st century art trends. The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco is devoting a programme to them, called “Winter Video Days“.

For this second edition, an antiphon to the Pier Paolo Calzolari exhibition “Casa ideale”, the NMNM here presents the section of Gerry Schum’s film Identifications (1970) devoted to Arte Povera.

Arte Povera, a radical avant-garde reaction to pop art, was more a general tendency than a formal movement. Though rarely associated with film and video, it nonetheless explored the possibilities they opened up in the specific context of ‘60s Italian society, where television was gaining in power and popularity.

No wonder, then, that six leading figures in Arte Povera (Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Gino de Dominicis, Mario Merz, Gilbert Zorio) agreed to take part in Gerry Schum’s pioneering project: the Fernsehgalerie, a short-lived “TV gallery”, financed by Berlin-based station SFB.   

For the young German filmmaker, television offered a way to circumvent the channels by which art was traditionally transmitted, and introduce avant-garde artists to a wider audience. With his TV gallery, he aimed to show the world the most radical art forms of the age. Though the adventure ultimately ended with just a single broadcast – of the film Land Art, on 15 April 1969 – Gerry Schum had nonetheless succeeded in exploring for the first time the aesthetic power of this new medium, with its “borders full of grisaille and static” (Robert Smithson). For neither Land Art nor Identifications are documentaries. Shot on 16 mm film, both are rather a series of happenings created in collaboration with the artists.

Naturally, then, Pier Paolo Calzolari’s performance filmed by Gerry Schum (in which the Italian artist is seen typing out his agenda for the week) was recreated that same year as an installation, entitled Senza titolo. The installation consists of the same text, but in neon, a chair as a metonymic representation of the writer’s profession, and a candle symbolising the passage of time. This shift from one medium to another is an example of the “variations on a theme” found throughout Pier Paolo Calzolari’s work.

Curator: Guillaume de Sardes
As part of the Winter Video Days programme, in partnership with the OVNi Festival

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