Sounds and visions: Turn up the volume

01 November 2016 - 10:21 By Mary Corrigall

In the early '90s, when the famous Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor first encountered William Kentridge's stop-frame animated video art films, he was practically giving away the works for free or at least accepting a nominal fee - Enwezor recalled around R50. He was horrified - the films were at the core of Kentridge's practice. They sell for a lot more than R50 now but they remain undervalued, considering they put Kentridge on the art map.The problem is that video art is a lousy status object - you can't put it on permanent display. In 2008, at the first Joburg Art Fair, the France-based African curator Simon Njami cheekily titled a group exhibition of video art As You Like It. It should have been titled ''Don't Like It" - none of the video artworks sold, lamented Ross Douglas, the director of the fair.It's easy to see why video art doesn't sell; when it's badly done it is laborious to watch and an offence to the art of film-making. The production values are often poor and sound isn't exploited.Despite all of these challenges the Goodman Gallery has opened up a new space in Cape Town dedicated to video art. Liza Essers, its owner, has always had an affinity for film, having dabbled in that industry. Indeed the gallery also has some of the strongest video artists in their stable - such as Candice Breitz.The Goodman's Video Room, which is attached to a new ground floor space on the street level on Sir Lowry Road, opened with some ''classic" video artworks such as Rewind (2013), produced by Gerhard Marx, Philip Miller, Maja Marx and Catherine Myburgh. Interestingly some are Kentridge collaborators. This astonishing work sets an example for video art that few artists observe in the sense that film works best when it is a collaborative effort involving a team of artists. This may also account for the medium's lack of popularity; it denies the "single artist genius" myth.Great art appears to flow when this is eschewed; the Marx works responded visually to Miller's audio monument to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, resulting in a powerful series of audio-visual tracks that probe loss, violence and the line between individual and collective pain and responsibility. The work probably isn't for sale - what it offers is a live and visceral encounter with art that a conventional white-cube experience can't. That is where the value of video art lies.The Goodman's Video Room opened on Saturday downstairs from the gallery in Fairweather House on Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town..

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