As part of the gallery's collaboration with Berwick-upon-Tweed Film and Media Festival and NABROAD, the Norwegian Collaborative Organisation for Contemporary Art Abroad, Open Gallery composed a short written piece on Video Painting for exhibition catalogue, Compositions.
The catalogue comprises an extensive study into the Sidsel Christensen's artistic practice, including her work with Open Gallery.
In a medium that is as clearly defined as video painting, Sidsel Chistensen’s Framing ‘Sensual Phase Transitions’ (Study for Composition VI) represents a fascinating development. In 2011, Christensen entered the Open Prize for Video Painting, an annual event run and organised by Open Gallery, and was voted the winner by a panel of expert judges. This included writer, curator and contributing editor of Frieze, Tom Morton; Artist-Filmmaker and RCA tutor, Stuart Croft; Artist Director of Site Gallery, Laura Sillars; and the founder of Open Gallery, artist and philosopher, Hilary Lawson.
Video painting was established by Lawson as the aesthetic counterpart to his 2001 theory of 'Closure' in which he proposed that the world is open, but that we close that openness with thought and language. Championing art as the means to avoid closure, video painting was developed as its exemplary form. This philosophical foundation of video painting makes the medium unique in the contemporary art context. Computer scientist William Sowerbutts designed the technology, which allows video painting sequences to play out in a continually changing and evolving order. This experimental format denies the possibility of a short repetitive video loop, lending the resultant work the ultimate aesthetic 'openness' sought by Lawson.
In video paintings, the camera must be stationary. There can be no subsequent editing or manipulation of the images. There is no dialogue or sound.
A group of artists formed around the new medium, creating single pieces of work structured within larger series governed by the principles of video painting, which offered a clear set of parameters within which each artist can operate. What Christensen achieved through ‘Framing Sensual Phase Transitions’ was the reinterpretation and expansion of those boundaries through the incorporation of the body.
Christensen’s work comprised a sequence of twelve video paintings lasting just over an hour. Although possible to view as individual stand-alone pieces, the video paintings have the most impact when allowed to play out consecutively in an unravelling sequence of videos. ‘Framing Sensual Phase Transition’s therefore offers an intense exploration of subjectivity, staged against the craggy coastal settings of Norway, Tenerife and Croatia.
At present, the artist is specifically investigating the possibility of immersion and ecstatic experience in contemporary spaces, and looking at how inner, emotive visions can be linked to the visual language of abstraction in art.
‘Study for Composition X’ builds on these themes and, through the support of the Berwick-Upon-Tweed Film and Media Festival, Open Gallery is proud to have supported the development of Christensen’s artistic practice.
Anna Gelderd and Kate Ross, Open Gallery
View the whole publication on the Compositions website below
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