Moving the Image. A Conversation with Murat Orozobekov and Edward Winkleman

In the Moving Image Series

Sabin BorsHow did you first start Moving Image and how do you see the project retrospecively, in light of its achievements so far? What was the impetus for such a fair and how do you see its future developments?

Edward Winkleman: Moving Image evolved out of two experiences we had as dealers. First was a London art fair we participated in at which a major New York art critic flew past our booth (in which we had three video artworks), saying “I never watch video at art fairs. I don’t have time.” The other experience was visiting the “California Video” exhibition at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where the curator, Glenn Phillips, had done a great job of presenting a large number of works in a context that still respected the intentions of each of the artists in the show. We combined these ideas – that people don’t feel they have time to watch video at an art fair and that it’s possible to present a large number of videos within a modest space, without compromising on how the viewer experiences the work – and launched the first Moving Image in New York in 2011. We continue to fine tune the model with each edition of the fair. We like to believe that Moving Image has helped raised awareness about how much of contemporary art involves moving-image technology and in particular how absent it tends to be among more traditional fairs, given how many artists are working in the medium.

Sabin BorsWhat does it take to make a fair dedicated exclusively to video art? What were the challenges for you and what are the long-term challenges?

Murat Orozobekov: Every art fair has its own challenges, and those vary for regional versus international art fairs. Because there are so many contemporary art fairs (over 200 a year), there is an average of 3 to 4 art fairs somewhere every weekend now. I believe most of the standard art fairs will face challenges in the future gathering participating galleries to join them, and more importantly in getting collectors, curators and visitors to attend the fair. No one can travel every weekend to see every art fair. Unless it’s a specific or thematically curated art fair that is unique and stands out compared to others, it becomes more of the same. As for Moving Image, I believe we already have established that Moving Image is a unique art fair and it’s a curated art fair. More importantly it’s not conceived to be in direct competition with any other art fairs; we consider it as complimentary to more traditional fairs. Working closely with ArtInternational in Istanbul this year, for example, we started our conversations about how best to collaborate early. We’re having similar conversations with a few other art fair directors in other cities and hope to be able to announce soon.

© E. Frossard. Used here by kind permission from Moving Image. All rights reserved.
© E. Frossard. Used here by kind permission from Moving Image. All rights reserved.

Sabin BorsWhat is it that sets Moving Image apart from other fairs, besides its obvious focus on video art? I’ve always found it interesting, for instance, that Moving Image is connected to some of the larger fairs, yet keeps a very clear mission, distinction and identity.

Edward Winkleman: As Murat noted, Moving Image is designed to complement other fairs. Whether in New York or London, or now Istanbul, every edition of Moving Image has included galleries who were participating in other concurrent fairs. The idea is that we create a context in which your video art won’t get lost in the context of the traditional fair.

Murat Orozobekov: There are a few differences between Moving Image and other art fairs, including that we always respond to the space and create an environment specific to the needs of the medium. In New York and London, our buildings have raw warehouse type aesthetics, and they’re both historical buildings with restrictions on what you can and cannot do in terms of construction. Now for Istanbul, the building is completely the opposite; it’s new and bright, with an entirely different aesthetic. So we’ve created a different approach to how to present the works in Istanbul, and we are curious how our visitors will respond to it. Another difference for Moving Image is that we do not plan to increase the number of participating artists and galleries. Because moving-image based art is time consuming, we believe a maximum of 30 to 35 works is about right (based on feedback from loyal visitors who’ve seen all our fairs). Finally, one big difference of Moving Image is that we are free to the public; we do not charge an entrance fee.

Sabin BorsDo you think it is possible to conceive a thematic edition of Moving Image? What would it take to achieve this?

Murat Orozobekov: I don’t think we would be interested in a thematic edition of Moving Image, but that could change depending on the timing and location of the next edition of Moving Image because for each edition of Moving Image our Curatorial Advisory Committee and we prefer to have a wide range of historical video works, works by established and emerging video artists. It would require more work with the preparation for a thematic edition of Moving Image. It could be interesting.

Edward Winkleman: Currently we think there’s so many great artists working in this medium that even collectors who focus on it don’t yet know that we’re able to continue with the current approach (which is essentially an international survey) for a number of years. I do agree with Murat, though, that a thematic edition could be interesting. Thanks for suggesting it!

© E. Frossard. Used here by kind permission from Moving Image. All rights reserved.
© E. Frossard. Used here by kind permission from Moving Image. All rights reserved.

Sabin BorsDo you consider any new locations for the fair in the future? Will Moving Image transform into a nomadic fair?

Murat Orozobekov: We are continually researching and in communication with our colleagues from different parts of the world. Moving Image could be a nomadic fair but I would like to think we’ll maintain our base fairs and possibly experiment with popping up here or there to give our galleries opportunities to explore new markets.

Edward Winkleman: Among the locations we’re researching now are Mexico City, São Paulo, Hong Kong, and Brussels. Each has its attractions and possible challenges. We are very excited about how the Moving Image model permits participating galleries maximum flexibility to explore the galleries, museums, and artists’ studios of some location new to them, all while promoting their artists in the fair. It’s a model a number of galleries are becoming quite adept at using to their advantage.

Sabin BorsWhat was the reason for inviting several different curators at each edition instead of working with just one curator or a close curatorial team? How does this curatorial experiment reflect your vision of the fair? How can you create a bridge and a dialogue between the internationalist character of the fair and the art scenes specific to each of the locations you’ve been to so far?

Murat Orozobekov: Since the first edition of Moving Image in New York back in 2011, we’ve invited a selection of international curators to join our Curatorial Advisory Committee team to suggest some of the video works they’ve seen recently or in the past that could be a great addition to Moving Image and need wider visibility outside of their region. Even though the world is getting smaller and smaller every day because of Internet, no one can travel that often to see everything in person. Our international Curatorial Advisory Committee is a perfect way to help us out with the personal invitations to join us for the next edition of Moving Image, to promote gallery artists and promote gallery programs to new audiences, especially for overseas galleries.

Edward Winkleman: As we noted above, our belief is that there are many great experimental filmmakers and video artists unknown to much of the art world, and so choosing new members for the Curatorial Advisory Committee is designed to help us present a new selection of them for each fair. With time, we would consider changes to that model, but at the moment it’s working well to help ensure we see new artists from different parts of the world in each edition. As for building a bridge between the international character of the fair and the local scene for each edition, it’s our belief that video has become the new international lingua franca and that few mediums immediately span the possible cultural gaps like film and video do. In short, we’re working with the easiest medium to travel in more than one sense of the word.

Sabin BorsFor this edition of Moving Image, you’ve invited collector Sabine Brunckhorst in the curatorial board. Do you think a collector’s choice could provide a more insightful perspective upon the featured works? Where does a curator and a collector differentiate in terms of their selection?

Edward Winkleman: In addition to inviting a collector to this board (something we’re interested in doing for future boards as well), Moving Image Istanbul will include a Collectors’ roundtable discussion in which we hope to elicit advice and suggestions from four great video collectors on not only how Moving Image is serving their needs (or could do so better), but how the gallery system in general is serving their needs. This isn’t an entirely new art fair discussion, but traditionally it’s come from the perspective of inviting collectors to speak at a fair that they’ve had no influence in building. By including collectors in both the building of the fair and the critique of the fair, we hope to gain more insight into the finer points of how we can improve.

Yes, I would say curators think predominantly of how they can best represent the artist’s intentions in their museum or institution where collectors think predominantly in terms of how the work can best be presented in their home, which are very different contexts with widely different considerations. What each would select for their collection (or for the fair) therefore varies based on these understandings of the work’s potentially ultimate home.

© E. Frossard. Used here by kind permission from Moving Image. All rights reserved.
© E. Frossard. Used here by kind permission from Moving Image. All rights reserved.

Sabin BorsWhat are this year’s highlights in your own personal opinion and why?

Murat Orozobekov: With every edition of Moving Image, personally I am very pleased we are able to present some of the historical works in Moving Image. With the first edition of Moving Image in Istanbul this month we are very happy to have David Wojnarociz and Leslie Thornton’s work. Besides these historical works we are pleased to have several world premiere works at the fair.

Edward Winkleman: We are also very excited to be presenting five very large room sized installations, which is something we haven’t been able to do as easily in our other locations. These include works by Sue de Beer, Hans Op de Beeck, Basim Magdy, Wolfgang Staehle and Gulnara Kasmalieva & Muratbek Djuamliev.

Sabin BorsWhat are the particularities of the art market and artistic movements in Istanbul as compared to New York or London?

Murat Orozobekov: We’ve been lucky to establish relationships with several Istanbul-based collectors from the previous editions of Moving Image in London and New York, and met several other Istanbul-based collectors throughout other fairs and during our research trips to Istanbul. We look forward to see them and new collectors during the fair. Based on our view and following the art market in Turkey, we’ve noticed a very positive and more welcoming attitude toward video art in general in collectors, curators, galleries, and museums. Generally, collectors in Turkey support artists practicing in a wide variety of different medium, especially in video arts, and it’s nice to know that support is there.

Sabin BorsCould you please detail on the peculiarities of the video art scene in Turkey?

Edward Winkleman: It may be that the contemporary art scene in Turkey emerged more recently, when video was already established as a medium that artists were interested in, but we see a lot less anxiety about the technical aspects of owning or presenting video art in Turkey than we encounter in arguably older contemporary markets. This is encouraging for the future of video art.

Sabin BorsLooking back and into the future, what are the peculiarities of the video art scene in New York and London, generally and comparatively?

Edward Winkleman: Much more video is shown in commercial galleries and museums in New York and London than you tend to see in private collections. I’m not sure why, after all this time, that’s still the case, but partly why we launched Moving Image was to work to correct this. Video is such a significant part of what contemporary artists are doing; any collector who wishes their collection to truly be of its time cannot afford to not include it, in my opinion.

© E. Frossard. Used here by kind permission from Moving Image. All rights reserved.
© E. Frossard. Used here by kind permission from Moving Image. All rights reserved.

Sabin BorsNot so long ago, Istanbul was mentioned as one of twelve art cities of the future, next to Beirut, Bogotá, Cluj, Delhi, Johannesburg, Lagos, San Juan, São Paulo, Seoul, Singapore and Vancouver. How do you see Istanbul compared to these other locations and how can Moving Image provide an alternate perspective on the local art market?

Edward Winkleman: I’d say among the cities on that list, São Paulo, Seoul and Istanbul have moved further along into being truly art cities of the future, but all of them have made major strides forward. Istanbul benefits from geographical location in terms of attracting a wide audience to its Biennial and other events, perhaps, but there’s also a fearlessness in the spirit of the scene in Istanbul that explains why it’s so exciting and seems to be growing. What we hope Moving Image can help provide is both a confirmation for local artists working in video that the global market is interested in video, as well as a survey for local collectors and the public at large at how international artists are using the medium. If some of the international artists in the fair get exhibition opportunities because of Moving Image, we will be very pleased indeed.

Sabin BorsHow do you understand the impact and the role of video and digital art in the new economies of attention, as compared to other media? Do you think the moving image can reflect the challenges posed by the awakening of social creativity in a more profound way compared to other artistic media or practices?

Edward Winkleman: As I noted above, video is already the new lingua franca. YouTube is the second most popular “search engine” in the world, meaning that more and more people are turning to moving images as “information” than text-based sources, and artists are naturally increasingly involved in using this international language to express themselves in this era. Along the same lines, video has served to connect the dots with creative citizens from all corners of the globe, with YouTube kickstarting many an audience for artists who may have never gained one had this inter-connecting channel not been available.

© E. Frossard. Used here by kind permission from Moving Image. All rights reserved.
© E. Frossard. Used here by kind permission from Moving Image. All rights reserved.

Sabin BorsHow has, in your opinion, the use of video changed in the past years, and especially since you first started Moving Image?

Murat Orozobekov: It’s a difficult question because it’s impossible to measure and officially state what has happened since 2011 since the first edition of Moving Image in New York. But I do believe that Moving Image is becoming and became in certain places as a destination to see several of works presented at one location. More and more curators from institutions, museums are spending more time during their visit of Moving Image, and enjoying the model of the fair to see works presented at the fair without interruption with respectful amount of space for each work. Another difference is that we see an increase of visitors coming to see Moving Image, it’s a dedicated and specifically audience who wants to see video works.

Sabin BorsHow would you define the avant-garde in today’s use of moving image based art?

Edward Winkleman: That’s a great (and very difficult) question. The most forward-thinking aspect of moving-image based art, within a fine art context (because technologically speaking you would need to include advances in commercial uses as well to truly discuss the “avant-garde,” even as they increasingly overlap), would seem to be in distribution choices. Take an artist like Ryan Trecartin, for example, whose room-sized installations are editioned and sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but who puts essentially the same moving-image-based content on the internet for free. This acknowledgement of the digital basis of the medium and other such approaches seems a leap forward in terms of understanding and being true to the medium.

Sabin BorsHow do you see the future of collecting moving image based art?

Murat Orozobekov: Moving-image based art will continue to be an important medium in the future and it would be a mistake not to pay attention now and start educating yourself about the history of video art. Again, most every single commercial contemporary galleries, art institutions, and museums now include video works in their exhibitions, at least in their group shows. Personally, I believe a collection without a video works in it I would consider it misses a very important branch of the whole contemporary art.

Editions Soon

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