Video Sings the Body Electric

Arts / Article

Video has played an integral role in contemporary art for decades now, but it doesn’t get much of a showing in Miami as a medium. That’s why the all-video “Chained to a Creature of a Different Kingdom” is a standout and worth catching while it’s still running …

Curated by Annie Wharton, a video artist herself and co-owner of a gallery in Los Angeles (The Company) that champions video, the show features the work of 15 artists, most of whom live in the two video hubs of New York and L.A. “No other commercial gallery in Miami has done a video exhibition with this many internationally exhibiting artists,” claims Wharton.

So we asked her about this work of love.

The theme revolves around the body — “a precarious vehicle that propels us around the earth” – sometimes at speeds defying logic. Artists in all genres have utilized the body as a subject matter since the beginning of art-making, according to Wharton. “And the videos I tend to gravitate to are those that use the body as the predominant subject of the work. Everybody needs some ‘body!'” says the enthusiastic curator, who used to call Miami home.

In the exhibit, bodies are shown in various stages of motion, projected on the walls and on screens, playing off each other.

“It was particularly important to me to juxtapose beauty, sexuality, humor, and irony within the context of the ‘Chained’ show, because one cannot really talk about the body without discussing those elements.

“Positing the work of a movement-based artist like Yvonne Rainer next to aaron GM’s (which has minimal movement, but lots of body language), and having Kate Gilmore’s highly physical work facing Ann Hamilton’s piece that is a slow-moving, contemplative formal exercise, were curatorial choices that I made to contrast the variation of works in the show.”

The very essence of video, in fact, is non-static. “Since the arrival of the ‘portable’ Sony CV-2000 camera/recorder unit in 1965,” relates Wharton, “weighing in at a svelte 66 pounds and soon replaced by the better-known yet only slightly less heavy Porta-Pak, artists have been able to take the camera outside of the TV studio and use it as an extension of their bodies to create works of art.”

“Chained,” in the end, is about the unchained, picturing bodies falling, dancing, exercising, licking, smashing.

“The video medium, while highly technical, is also really so abstract and boundary-less,” sums up Wharton. “It’s compelling to discover form where it might not otherwise exist. So, what excites me? Everything!”

“Chained to a Creature of a Different Kingdom” through April 3 at the David Castillo Gallery, 2234 NW 2nd Ave., Miami; 305-573-8110.