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The Magnetic Era: Video Art in the Netherlands: 1970-1985

The Magnetic Era: Video Art in the Netherlands: 1970-1985
The magnetic era: video art in the Netherlands : 1970-1985. — Edited by Jeroen Boomgaard and Bart Rutten. — Amsterdam : Netherlands Media Art Institute, Montevideo/Time Based Arts ; Rotterdam : NAI Publishers, 2003. — 192 p. — Includes a glossary. — ISBN 9056622994.

This anthology represents a critical tool for exploring the evolution of video in the Netherlands between 1970 and 1985. While discussing the theoretical issues raised by the video practices that emerged over these two decades, the contributing authors report on the development of institutions devoted to producing and distributing videos in the country.

Jeroen Boomgaard and Bart Rutten investigate the work of pioneers of Dutch video art in the context of theoretical discussions on defining the medium that took place internationally in the early seventies. The authors single out the representatives of a formal approach who play up the characteristics specific to video work (Livinus van de Bundt) as well as representatives of an aesthetic linked to documentaries and conceptual approaches (Raul Marroquin, Shinkichi Tajiri, Marinus Boezem, Pieter Engels). They also comment on the artistic practices of the seventies for which video had an auxiliary role of documenting an action or performance (Bert Schutter, Bas Jan Ader). Rob Perée looks at the emergence in the seventies of organizations that produced and distributed videos in the Netherlands, such as Meatball (The Hague), Video Heads (Amsterdam), Open Studio (Amsterdam), Montevideo (Amsterdam), Lijnbaancentrum (Rotterdam), Time Based Arts (Amsterdam) and De Appel (Amsterdam). Perée describes the impact of government assistance on these organizations' long-term survival. Ruth Bellinkx and Marga van Mechelen provide a case study on the artist centre De Appel (Amsterdam). During the seventies, video helped to document events (performances, concerts) presented at this centre, which developed a program for producing videotapes for television. Hinke Kappert analyzes views about Dutch video art carried by the trade press both locally and internationally. She also looks at the reviews of major Dutch exhibitions and festivals dedicated to video between 1970 and 1984. Shunning the popular belief that video is at the mercy of the technical means of television, Sebastián Lopez compares notions inherited from conceptual art (in particular, the dematerialization of the object) and the formal strategies adopted by Dutch videomakers to define an aesthetic specific to the medium. Anne van Driel seeks to define the specificity of videos produced in the eighties. Rather than favour a formalist approach or try to reform the media apparatus, van Driel claims that the representatives of the following decade (Lydia Schouten, Sluik/Kupershoek, Dedo, Sket) reinvested in the narration and indulged in a rhetorical corruption of the icons of popular culture. Jorinde Seijdel assesses the effects of video becoming digital. According to Seijdel, in a new media context that tends to level all content from the same medium, an essentialist or formalist approach poses a problem.

The anthology also includes biographical notes on the Dutch videomakers working in the period from 1970 to 1985 as well as a glossary of technical and theoretical terms used by the contributing authors.

Vincent Bonin © 2003 FDL