Invited curator |

The curators of the British Show made a selection of video art production from the second half of the 1980s. The Show was divided into five programs, compiled and distributed by London’s Film&VideoUmbrella.



Curator's text Gill Henderson, 1989

The biggest strength of British video art productions of the 80s proved to be their surprising diversity. The video selection illustrated the variety and depth of artworks created in the second half of the 1980s.

Electric Eyes is a four-program compilation featuring video works and works that employ video techniques. It was compiled and distributed by Film & Video Umbrella, a London-based organization that promotes and sells experimental films. Made in Scotland II combines the works of students, supervisors and lecturers at Scotland’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art Dundee. The surprising variety of artworks produced by this school over the past few years has helped dispel the myth that all British video art production sprang from London. The show was also a chance for spectators to see the work of artists who could potentially be the video stars of the 90s.

Barber, Snow, Flaxton featured new videos by George Barber and George Snow, both renowned “scratch video” age artists who employed techniques and effects in a completely unique way. The Man in the Crowd and The Assignation take Edgar Allan Poe’s tales and morph them into gothic melodramas using computer graphics and video game effects. The Venetian Ghost transports a Venetian Doge to Venice Beach, California, to explore the intersection between cultures in a humorous, clever way.

The director/writer Terry Flaxton created a series of works – some aired on TV and others not –, including video art pieces and independent documentaries that were more common in Britain. In partnership with production company Triplevideo, he directed a series of shows about video art for Channel Four, as well as The Cold War Games - The Soviet Union (1988) and the two-part series The National Health (1988). In 1987, he served as lighting cameraman for the first British feature-length video, Out of Order.

Curator's text Paula Dip

The world of television-broadcasted ideas and images must be democratic and open to everyone. The concession of TV channels, whether VHF, UHF, cable or satellite, is a political act that entails social and ideological responsibilities the “almighty” Brazilian TV bosses have yet to assume.

The reproduction of images via television was undoubtedly the biggest revolution in communications of our century. As long as this miracle remained in the hands of major executives and television network owners, the reach of the most popular language ever heard of remained limited. Nowadays, mass home video production and widespread access to image creation and production equipment is spawning a new revolution in the means of communication. Regular citizens can record breaking news using portable cameras. Young artists use a camera and editing station as their canvas, paint and brush. Through image, the philosopher gives life to his revolutionary ideas.

On television, on the daily grids of major and minor communication networks, these creative acts come to life.

This is a vital space. During my three years living in London I found out that television does not need to be stupid, monopolistic and commercial. In Great Britain there are some 400 independent video production companies creating programs for television in larger or smaller scales. Through a movement spearheaded by British video makers themselves, 25% of all television programming in the country today is independently produced. Long live the differences! British television breathes. It thinks. It is an open space. In a bid to prove to our video creators that TV and video can indeed marry – and happily –, I, along with Solange Oliveira and Martin Fryer, of the British Council, have decided to bet on a British video show in this VII Fotoptica Videobrasil Festival.