<videovortex> Dual Context: Vidéoclubparis by Alice Pfeiffer

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Thu Jul 22 08:57:16 CEST 2010


A new gallery for video art, Vidéoclubparis offers a single, hybrid  
space with two parallel modes of screening. The first is a monthly,  
online exhibition of a dozen young artists, centered around a variety  
of themes (from ‘soundtrack’ to ‘bathing suit’, among many others);  
presented with basic information about the pieces and their creators.  
The second part is a live screening-event organized for each opening,  
in unlikely, semi-private places ranging from a sauna to a Bollywood  
video store. By seeking out unique locations for screenings, the event  
challenges the idea of the formal white cube – an aspect that is  
emphasized by the parallel screenings on the web. “The aim is to  
create bipolar screenings, we’re trying to do the high jump between  
watching videos online and taking people to a place completely  
unexpected,” said Stéphanie Cottin, co-founder of the organization,  
“the two work well together, because the extravagance of the events  
balances out the conventionalism of the online curation.”
Vidéoclubparis emerged out of Cottin and partner Bernard Guégan’s  
fascination for video rental machines placed outside video stores all  
over the capital – holes in the wall, which have been increasingly  
unpopular since the arrival of the Internet. “We like the idea of a  
cinema at home, and today, the closest thing is YouTube,” said Guégan,  
“so we wanted to keep the idea of diffusion of both the stores and the  

Some artists aren’t keen on showing work online, the pair explained,  
because of the fantasy of a big screen in a classical gallery. To  
solve this, and offer a more typical screening while still bi-passing  
the gallery system, every show leads to a tailor-made projection  

“Vincent Ganivet, for example, wanted a ‘real’ gallery and big  
projector, something clean and more classical. Yet when we offered him  
to show in a Bollywood store, in a space that also generates images,  
he liked the idea,” said Cottin. The work Ganivet showed in the store,  
Feux d’Artifices ("Fireworks") (2008), portrays fireworks lit during  
the daytime within a natural landscape. This results in the opposite  
effect of their use in the nighttime: one can barely see the lights  
and smoke, as they are swallowed up in the clouds and bright sky.  
Ganivet’s failed explosion was shown amongst a dozen Bollywood films,  
screened on TV sets all over the shop. Bollywood films often end in  
grandiose firework displays, and Feux d’Artifices presented an ironic  
contrast to this common grand finale within the genre.

Another example is a group show entitled "Dérives Urbaines," i.e.  
Urban drifts. As the title suggests, all the videos deal with the  
theme of the post-industrial city, in a dystopian tone. This includes  
Sun City (2005) by Olivier Cazin and Thomas Barbey, a silent travel  
through a city, constructed entirely from extracts of various Marvel  
comics (‘a city about to be Blade-Runnerized’, said Cazin about the  
film), or Rhombus Sectus by Raphaël Zarka (2009), which continuously  
films, day and night, the same futuristic building.These works were  
screened in Bernard Guéguan’s bedroom, on a small TV screen, forcing  
the audience to pile up on the same bed. The alienating feel of these  
images contrasted with the intimacy of the environment and the  
physical proximity of the viewers.

Another group show, called "En Maillot de Bain (In A Bathing Suit)"  
was screened in a sauna built in Mains d’Oeuvres, an art center in the  
northern Parisian banlieue. In order to enter the wooden room, the  
audience had to be in full beach attire. There, they watched films  
about the notion of ‘reduction’ (a comic poke at their sudden  
sartorial reduction.) Films therefore looked at simple, ‘bare’  
gestures detached from a grander context: Tu m' by Pierre Leguillon  
(2008) consists of two hands simply flicking through art opening  
invitations, or Point Ligne et Particules by Fayçal Baghriche, (2008)  
is a one shot film of a man spray-painting a single straight line on a  
train, without ever showing the finished result.

“Inevitably, every work generates new ideas, new viewing modes and  
contexts,” said Guégan. Vidéoclubparis’s screenings encourage a  
recognition of the space outside the monitor, even when detached from  
an identifiable, formal context. What both viewing modes have in  
common is their proximity to the real world, Guégan believes: when  
logging on to Vidéoclub, YouTube, offering videos of a similar format,  
is just one click away. When screening outdoors, one isn’t sheltered  
from urban life, but rather, embraces it and takes part in it in a  
novel manner – such as gathering around a gallery window to look at a  
film projected through a keyhole. “Our main question is ‘when do you  
people want to see images and how? As visitors online, at the cinema,  
with friends?’. We’ll adapt, video by video.” Said Guégan, “But for  
now, all we have to offer is a database to access the clips, and if  
you make it to the openings, there might be wine and peanuts.”


Alice Pfeiffer is a Paris-based freelance journalist, who writes for  
the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, Art in America,  
Dazed and Confused, Interview and Tank. After graduating with a  
Masters degree in Gender Studies from the London School of Economics,  
she went on to work as an editorial assistant for the International  
Herald Tribune in Paris. She is now working between her couch in  
Montmartre and London's East End.

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