Welcome to the Multiplex
I was struggling how to fill 1000 words talking about Documenta 11, when I was hit with a solution: why not talk about all three festivals I attended this June: Documenta 11 in Kassel; New Generation, the first edition of a brand-new film festival in Lyon; and Los Angeles Film Festival’s New Technology Forum. Since all three events focused on new (or not so new) directions in moving image production and distribution, this will be the focus of this review.
Going through the show I also had the feeling I was in a kind of artist’s cinema multiplex. Although I have not counted, it felt that at least half of all the Documenta artists presented “video installations” which almost all followed the same standard exhibition format: a projection presented in a small room. At least in a commercial movie theatre you get comfortable seats, Dolby surround sound, and you can bring in a coke, but since Documenta was about “serious art” and not the pleasures of mass culture, a typical room had hard and uncomfortable benches. Somebody pointed out to me that all video and film installations presented at Documenta together added up to more than 600 hours of runing time. Somebody else noted that the size of video and film installation rooms varied accordingly to the prestige of a an artist The films by Jonas Mekas and Ulrike Ottinger, the veterans of experimental filmmaking, which were between five and sex hours each, were put in larger rooms which had a few row of comfortable chairs, like in a real movie theaters. Many other videos were struck in small rooms with a single bench.