Last week I published the first post investigating the contexts of galleries vs. festivals for animators, filmmakers and video artists. In this post I collect the first batch of surveys that I sent out to seven artists and curators. The questions have been slightly edited for non applicable subjects, spelling, or privacy, but are otherwise reported in their entirety. Thank you so much to these artists for taking the time to contribute to this discussion!
Montreal born artist, Steven Woloshen (BFA, MFA Studio Arts) has been passionately creating short abstract films and time-based-art installation pieces since 1982. He has been invited to show his work, has lectured on the subject of handmade analogue film techniques and has been commissioned to create unique films for artist-run centers, international film festivals and galleries. In 2010, he published his first book on the subject of decay, archiving and handmade filmmaking techniques, titled “Recipes for Reconstruction: The Cookbook for the Frugal Filmmaker.”
1. In what context have you had animated work in galleries? In group shows, solo shows?
I have either had a screening in a group show, a screening as a solo retrospective in a gallery space or I have had a media artwork ( on a black wall) presented in a group context. Once, I screened digitally on a flat screen in relation to a well known Canadian Painter.
2. Is the film work usually exhibited in a traditional screening format (black box projection with seats for the audience), or does the work require a more involved installation (small projections onto walls, or incorporating objects/paintings?)
Usually, it is a screening, but I have successfully chosen to be be in a black box, or, if I’m lucky, a window “vitrine.”
3. Are you represented by a gallery, or did you deal with the venue in which your work was shown directly?
So far, I have never been represented by the gallery. The works were usually rented from the film distributor.
4. If your work requires a bit more construction/planning in order to be installed properly in the gallery, who takes care of this? Do you send out instructions along with the work and trust the gallery to install it properly? If you are represented by a gallery, does your gallery take care of all the logistics?
when I screened in the window, the gallery handled it.
5. If you are not represented by a gallery: would you like to be represented by a gallery or would you prefer to remain independent? Why? Are you looking for a gallery and if so, how?
In my past group shows at the gallery, we were all independent in regards to the work we showed.
6. If you are represented by a gallery, do you feel like having gallery representation is a big advantage for animated work, rather than dealing directly with venues?
I think it would be a nice change for gallery to be handling media arts such as, short animation.
7. What do you think the advantages are of showing your work in galleries versus festivals?
Galleries offer a nice venue for discussion but the criteria and feedback is different that a cinema viewer. A sound film may require headphones which means one viewer at a time. The viewer has options to stay or leave without guilt so narrative works may suffer on this point. Plus, fewer people may see your film.
Festivals have optimum time slots (such as opening & closing night). Small, distant cinema venues means your film may go unnoticed, esp. if it screens just once.
Eliška Decká is a student of the Film Studies MA program at the Film Studies Department, Charles University in Prague. She writes on animation for various Czech journals and contributed to the historically first animation-focused issue of the impacted Czech film studies journal Iluminace. She also writes for the Society of Animation Studies blog and curates film programs and gallery shows.
1. In what context have you been involved with festival and gallery screenings? Did you help program the events, like pick the artists/films that were to be shown?
Yes, I was a curator of gallery/screening events outside the cinema and also of some festival programs with classical cinema seating.
2. For the gallery events in which you showed animation, was the animation shown in a traditional black box type format, or was it more like an installation, that involved more planning and specialized equipment/objects?
Both ways. I think there’s not any best general way of showing your material in gallery/outside of cinema. It always depends on the specific material. I talk about it more at no. 9 I think…
3. If the latter, was it the responsibility of the venue to install the animated work properly, following the artist’s instructions, or did the artist come by and install it themselves?
I have one very bad experience when I left the whole responsibility of the installation of a piece curated by me to people from the gallery/festival. It was [a certain festival in the Czech Republic] which mixes gallery installations and traditional screenings etc. at one common festival venue. It was very rushed and they promised me to find a good place and I didn’t want to bring more stress to their work before the start of the festival….BUT then the artist herself attended the festival and was rightly disappointed/pissed of because the installation was horrible, in a busy corridor, no one was able to enjoy it…
So since that, I always do the installation myself, with the author or control it like a control freak:) It’s really worth it. There’s no curatorial satisfaction in getting the material to the audience if the audience can’t enjoy it.
4. If you’re willing to talk numbers, for the gallery events you helped organize, do you know if a fee was offered to the artists for the use of their film in the show? Or did the distributors/gallerists demand a fee for the work?
It depends. But most of the time it’s free from all parts or just with some symbolic fee. I always try to get some fee for the artist and when I see that it’s not possible (like paradoxically my last collaboration with [a large state gallery in the Czech Republic]) I try to offer them some student work that I don’t feel so bad about showing for free. Cause the student artists are usually covered by school productions etc.) And for most of them it can be one of the first opportunities to be seen by some wider audience. But it’s always connected to the specific situation, your common sense and your clear conscience:)
5. At these events was any of the animated work for sale?
No, nothing for sale, only merch at one premiere organized by AniScreen where authors were selling it themselves. They sold something, but not too much:)
One time, I bought a picture at an exhibition opening of my friend’s animation. When I showed it to our common friend, he asked me why did I buy it. I said: “What should you spend your money for when not for your friend’s beautiful art?” and he said: “For food”….so that’s just for you better picture, I think that artists (who mostly attend these kind of events) don’t like to buy anything:)
6. Have you ever come across work by an animator that is both represented by a gallery, and is being screened at festivals?
I don’t know about the “official representation” but a lot of artists shown in galleries are shown for example also at PAF festival here in Czech Republic that I collaborate with. (www.pifpaf.cz) There aren’t many of these types of festivals but they do exist. You just need some open-minded curators to make it happen…like me, right:))
7. In planning gallery events, do you prefer to deal directly with the animator, or with an animator’s gallerist (if they are represented by one)? Why or why not?
For me it’s selfishly easier to communicate directly with the author because I usually know them somehow personally and also we have usually a similar way of communicating. Sometimes, when I deal with distributors/gallerists they can be too busy and too business oriented, which I understand and try to respect but sometimes it prolongs the communication. But on the other hand some animators aren’t practical at all and then I’m really happy that I deal with some representative who’s actually from this planet:)
8. As a curator, what type of animation do you think is more suited to galleries, compared with festivals?
It really depends on the type of event/installation you decide to make. I don’t consider anything a priori inappropriate. You just need to find the way to show the material you have. Non-narrative animation may be generally speaking better cause a visitor can jump into the loop on a wall whenever he/she wants to. If you put a narrative material in a gallery, it better be a shorter piece and you better make some privacy and a seating space (especially the seating possibility is a very important part…I find it myself kind of rude when someone expects from me as a visitor to stand in the middle of a large busy exhibition for 10 min to watch some usually kinda challenging piece). But if you have an important long narrative piece, you can always show it within the exhibition as an event (on selected days in selected times with some introduction, Q and A etc.) or make a small cinema-like space separated from the rest of the exhibition. I think:) …that’s my experience:)
Su Rynard is a Toronto-based media artist with an expansive body of work that spans two decades. From her early video art created in the late 1980’s to her recent feature film debut, Rynard has worked across a range of approaches: dramatic, experimental, documentary, and installation.
Su Rynard’s installations have been exhibited at the Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast and at Paul Petro Contemporary Art in Toronto. Her videos have been screened in galleries including The National Galley of Canada, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and The Tate Britain. Her short film As Soon As Weather Will Permit was screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (I wrote about it in a blog post about the Short Film Marathon).
1. In what context have you had animated or video work in galleries? In group shows, solo shows? Is your film work often submitted to film festivals, or are your film festival screenings mostly the results of invitations?
In Toronto I show with a gallery, Paul Petro Contemporary Art (PPCA). These are usually solo exhibitions. Occasionally the work is curated into a group show, often organized around a theme. Festival screenings are largely the result of submission.
2. In galleries, is the video work usually exhibited in a traditional screening format (black box projection with seats for the audience), or does the work require a more involved installation (small projections onto walls, or incorporating objects/paintings?)
This varies piece to piece, sometimes there is a physical element to the installation. For example, BEAR incorporates a rear screen projection into a museum style diorama. Often my work is a two screen projection. Sound plays an important role.
3. I believe you are represented by a gallery. Does this mean that your gallerist communicates with all venues that want to show your work directly? Do you ever deal with venues who want to show your work directly?
For the most part, interested people usually contact me directly. V/tape a distribution centre in Toronto, represents the majority of the work I have done in video/film, either single channel or installation. When PPCA feels there is a “good fit” for a work, they will promote the piece by inviting curators/exhibitors to the gallery show. Regardless, competition to exhibit work is fierce, and regardless of representation, artists still have to work to promote their work and solicit interest from venues.
4. During the gallery shows in which you have had video work, was your work for sale? What was the price (ballpark)?
The work is for sale, but recently no one has ever bought work. In the early days of “video art” museums actively collected “tapes” by artists. I am fortunate to have early work in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada and The Museum of Modern Art in NY. My sense is that there is less opportunity to sell installation art because of technical and logistical reasons, as well as issues around value.
5. Is your work ever loaned out to a museum or exhibition, and if so, is the venue charged a fee for borrowing it? If there is a fee attached to showing your work in an exhibition, what is it (ballpark)?
Most film video loans and rentals would be facilitated by V/Tape. They take a 30% fee and the balance goes to the artist. There are set rates for a film/video rental. For installation work, in the case of a museum, the gallery gets a credit but honouriums paid as artist fees go directly to the artist. These are small. As an example, the last fee I was paid by a museum to exhibit work was $300. Canadian.
6. If your work requires a bit more construction/planning in order to be installed properly in the gallery, who takes care of this? Do you send out instructions along with the work and trust the venue to install it properly? Does your gallery take care of all the logistics?
This really varies. In some cases I have been entirely responsible to install the work, and even pay for most of these costs – as is the case with the gallery I show in Toronto. In other places, for example a public gallery, they have a staff who does the installation. I would provide detailed instructions and /or an advance visit or meeting. Public galleries often pay an honourarium to exhibit the work.
7. How does your gallery feel about you having video work in film festivals? Are they supportive of this, and do they submit on your behalf? Or do they accept it, but you do the submitting? Or do they frown on it altogether?
I make different kinds of work, some of it really belongs in the gallery context – and this was considered since the inception of the piece, and I often involve the gallery in early discussions about the work. I’ve also directed feature length drama and documentary films. These are shown outside the gallery and there is almost no interaction or concern. They certainly do not handle submissions. The onus is on the artist to get the work out there.
8. Do you ever submit the same piece to both festivals and have it exhibited by your gallery (for example As Soon As Weather Will Permit)? Or does the gallery control the gallery pieces, and you make other work for festivals?
As Soon as Weather Will Permit was designed as an installation, but the first several times it has been screened has been in a film festival context, like IFFR. This spring will be the first time it is installed in a gallery, and this is a group show at CUAG.
9. Do you feel like having gallery representation is a big advantage for video work, rather than dealing directly with venues?
No, getting work seen is always a struggle. It’s highly competitive. Often by the time I’m finished making something I have little time, energy and money left to promote the work. In Toronto it is wonderful to have a relationship with PPCA, but the scene is quite local.
10. What do you think the advantages are of showing your work in galleries versus festivals?
For me, it’s about how the work was conceived and how it is best experienced. If the work has any kind of narrative, festivals and art house cinema’s are often the best exhibition venues. Work that transcends language / narrative, or is flexible in terms of the time required to experience it, or has unique audio or video requirements is often best viewed in a gallery. Here the space and experience can be tailored to create a unique and impactful experience for the viewer.