Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Video Acts

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Video Acts

Article excerpt

Byline: HEPHZIBAH ANDERSON

After a modest two-month closure, the newly refurbished ICA Galleries have reopened.

The most visible effect of this redesign seems to be that the galleries have become whiter - for which read greyer, since they could now pass for virtually any other of the capital's more self-consciously contemporary spaces. However, a snug piece of scheduling means that the first exhibition to be held in these freshly blanched surrounds picks up from where the last (the Beck's Futures) left off, homing in on the very same medium that dominated this year's [pounds sterling]30,000 prize: video art.

Video Acts first opened to clamorous critical praise in New York, late last year, and its 80-plus constituent pieces all derive from either the private collection of Pamela and Richard Kramlich, or the Kramlich founded New Art Trust. Coasting in on Silicone Valley dollars, the couple began collecting video art 10 years ago, and have acquired a vast archive that dates from 1965, charting the evolution of an art form made possible by the advent of portable video equipment. But rather than a survey, this is a selection of work that focuses on one theme: the human body. The bodies in question belong to the artists themselves, and the positions in which they are captured tend to be awkward, disorientating or downright painful.

Lining the corridor are works by the likes of John Baldessari, Tony Oursler and Paul McCarthy, while each of the three main galleries is given over to a single artist. Vito Acconci began life as a poet, and takes navel-gazing to flinch-inducing extremes in 'Corrections', training the camera on his belly and plucking out the hairs that carpet it one by one, while in 'Home Movies' he leans into the camera, pleading for another chance and warbling along to snatches of Leonard Cohen. Bruce Nauman's work is among the more impressive and demonstrates an intense awareness of the 'liveness' of his medium. 'Wall-Floor Positions', his 1968 videotape, is one of the earliest on show here, and over the course of its 60 minutes, a spider-like Nauman contorts his body beetween the floor and the wall of his studio, not once glancing up at the camera and yet rarely straying from its frame. …

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