The 2010 SITE biennial opened with the press conference, curators spoke about the exhibition, using words like "quintessential," and "magical." My expectations for the 2010 biennial grew. Raising questions about our physical bodies in relation to the advent of technology, the curators call on historical and theatrical references while focusing on the handcraft of video. Of course, handmade and video seem to be a contradiction in terms, especially from the viewpoint of the famed philosopher Walter Benjamin regarding his thoughts on aura. Since 1935 Benjamin's theories have certainly been opposed, and "The Dissolve" is no exception.
A few specific works carry a magical if not quintessentially artful quality like Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). Hand-cut shadow puppets move staggeringly across brightly colored frames. The result is charming, as if the aura was not lost from the initial making of the film. In my wildest imagination great drawings and paintings come alive and move. The Black Cabinet by Christine Rebet animates at a pleasantly slow pace, and is reminiscent of a dream. Other favorites of mine include Federico Solmi's Douche Bag City, and Martha Colburn's Myth Labs.
"The Dissolve" delivers magic in the realm of video, but depends on advanced technology to create the magic. With all the hype about the new audio system, there are problems. The sound is often too quiet, or simply doesn't work. However, despite failures, which arise from techno-dependencies, "The Dissolve" is an amazing, international, quintessential video art biennial. Referring to this biennial, Lewis says, "what comes from the body [should] dominate the aesthetic." Belasco and Lewis's ability to wed the handmade with the realm of technology results in brilliance. The success of "The Dissolve" might be measured by the following statement, which continues to recur in my head in relation to this biennial, was there art before video?
Kathryn Crocker, 2010
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