Mar 042015
 

This is Part 3 of a 4 part post series. Here is Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4.

On Feb 24 I published the first part of this post series, investigating the possibilities of the gallery vs. festival contexts for animators and video artists. Last week I published the first set of surveys I sent out to animators, filmmakers and curators who have experience with this subject. Here are the second set of replies. The questions have been slightly edited for non applicable subjects, spelling, or privacy, but are otherwise reported in their entirety. In a few days I will publish the last post, a reflection on the results.

Ruud Terhaag

Ruud Terhaag was born in 1976 in Blerick (Venlo). Terhaag studied animation film at AKV St. Joost Breda. He graduated with his short film ‘Pendule’ that has been shown at dozens of festivals all over the world. It received a special mention at the Stuttgart Film Festival. His short film ‘Landerlingen‘ (2009) was nominated for the Best Dutch Shorts. As a director he has made commercials for brands like TomTom, in addition to working on several films and theatre shows. He made the intro for the Mexican feature film ‘3:19’. In the past years, Ruud has developed his own work further and he now works as creative director on the new ‘United We Are’ world tour of Dutch DJ Hardwell. Now he’s ready to apply his ambitions to his first international feature film ‘The Last Walker’.

Still from Pendul (2005) by Ruud Terhaag. Click on the image to be taken to the film.

Still from Pendul (2005) by Ruud Terhaag. Click on the image to be taken to the film.

1. In what context have you had video work in galleries? In group shows, solo shows?

The works were made together with Marleine van der Werf. Our video work was sometimes solo and sometimes in combination with other video installations.

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?)

Our film work was projected several times in a traditional screening but a couple of times on a wall, or a sea-container or a rig of a boat, sailboat.

3. Are you represented by a gallery or film distributor, who communicated with the venue on your behalf, or did you deal with the venue in which your work was shown directly?

No we’re not represented by a gallery. One of our films is distributed via ‘Future Shorts London’. With most of our work we deal with the venue ourselves.

4. During the gallery shows in which you have had video work, was your work for sale? What was the price (ballpark)?

Here we had friction with a gallery. It’s a dilemma when you worked on a film for 4 years. Most galleries wanted to have our film for sale but the price they offered was too low compared to the investments we’d made.
To make a film is expensive. You really need a platform to get your investment back. A gallery is not the right place. 7000,- works for a painting but with a film you can’t make a living out of it. With a painting there is one copy. People don’t want to pay 800 euro to ‘own’ a copy of a film. In some way a gallery is a place for a special form of film that you make either with a very low budget or as a statement and an investment for your own without expecting to get your investments back.

5. If you are represented by a gallery: how does the gallery feel about you submitting your work to film festivals? Do you ever submit the same piece to both festivals and have it distributed by your gallery? Or does the gallery control the gallery pieces, and you make other work for festivals? If so, does your gallery have criteria for what type of work you make should fall under their domain?

With one gallery we weren’t allowed to submit our film to festivals anymore. For me, first that was a reason to avoid galleries in the future. Museums and other places with a gallery function were more easy on this.

6. 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?

I wouldn’t be represented by a gallery. In my opinion they have too much power over the art. The part that they ask from a work is too much. in my own experience it is often 50-50. Sometimes even more.

7. 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 don’t think it is a big advantage for animated work. It can be nice to have your animated work shown in a gallery but it’s an extra on top of the festival venue. Finding a gallery and ignoring the festivals isn’t wise in my opinion.
As a filmmaker you try to sell your work to a distributor, TV, net etc. I prefer 500 people to pay 5 euro’s for my work than 7 people paying 280 euro. Film is communication for me. Even the most abstract film is intended to be a kind of mass-medium. If there’s a gallery with the intention to treat my work as it is for a bigger audience then it can be interesting.
[I would consider it] if a gallery asks me to show or represent my work, and I can get a good deal out of it: permission to show the work on festivals too. I’m in for a collaboration.

8. What do you think the advantages are of showing your work in galleries versus festivals?

It widens your audience. There’s a possibility to heighten the status of your work. (When successful it becomes known in the art scene. This is good for the festivals too. Because there’s so much out there that they don’t notice your film. Getting your work screened is also a kind of politics. In Holland when your film is successful abroad then the chance that it is screened at a Dutch festival is bigger. When the name of a well know gallery is attached to your work, the festivals will notice it.)

Jan de Bruin

Foto-Jan-2Jan de Bruin (Delft, 1977) graduated from the film department at the Dutch art-school St. Joost in Breda in 2002. Since his graduation he has devoted himself to making personal short documentary videos.Via documentary short films Jan de Bruin creates a psychological mirror of everyday life. He usually records people in urban situations, engaged in interaction with each other. He thus explores the boundaries between film and art, as well as between reality and fiction. In transcending these clichés, the films aim to show us ourselves. This may even be a revolt against post-modernism. The works are shown at many national and international film festivals as well as in traditional art spaces. De Bruin has made commissioned films within the dance, design and visual arts fields. Jan de Bruin also works in photography, making the melancholia of urban nightlife visible.

I spoke with Jan de Bruin over the phone. The following is a paraphrasing of his replies:

1. In what context have you had animated work in galleries? In group shows, solo shows?

Mostly group shows. Jan has had gallery representation for two years (Zerp.nl). He is now more into photography, though he has made some video art work that is for sale in the gallery. His latest video art piece is called China at Work from 2012. There is a gallery show opening on Sunday at his gallery, Zerp, that includes some of his work.

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?)

His video art work is screened traditionally and doesn’t require special installations. In the past he has exhibited on a flat screen with headphones, which was ok, but he prefers a big screen with good sound. This is hard to get in an exhibition sometimes, but film festivals show it well.

On the other hand, in festivals your work is in a program with other films, which is sometimes good and sometimes not.

3. During the gallery shows in which you have had animated work, was your work for sale? What was the price (ballpark)?

The work for sale at Zerp is about 3,000/3,500 Euro per piece in edition of 5, but he has never sold a piece to a collector. It is a specialized market and paintings/photos are still a bigger market. Normal people are still not used to buying video work. There is apparently a specialized fair in Spain for video work.

4. If you are represented by a gallery: how does the gallery feel about you submitting your work to film festivals? Do you ever submit the same piece to both festivals and have it distributed by your gallery? Or does the gallery control the gallery pieces, and you make other work for festivals? If so, does your gallery have criteria for what type of work you make should fall under their domain?

Yes, sometimes the same piece that is for sale at the gallery is the same piece that is in festivals. Zerp doesn’t mind if he has films in festivals because the festival only has the rights for the one time screening. Sometimes festivals want to show an excerpt online and there is a special contract for that.

4b – films on the internet:

When he finishes a piece he usually waits for a few screenings before putting the film online. At first he hesitated to put his work online, (around 2004), because the quality online wasn’t good. But now it’s all on vimeo, but not downloadable.

Zerp is OK with vimeo because it means exposure. But he’s never sold a video art piece, so… Anyway if someone purchases a video art piece they are really only purchasing the right to screen it at various times. So the two don’t conflict.

He used to print stills from his films and sold some of those, but now that he’s more into photography, he stopped doing this. The last film that he made, he never printed stills from that, because it’s a little almost like an excuse to sell something. The work is the video, not the still.

4c – video art and distribution companies:

Jan has one video art piece (Calling 911) that is distributed by LIMA, an ‘international platform for media art distribution, preservation and research’ based in Amsterdam. If I understand correctly, LIMA was born from the ashes of NIMK, the Netherlands Media Art Institute, that closed its doors after the funding cuts in 2012.

Jan used to also have work that was distributed by NIMK, a couple of short documentaries that were considered video art. NIMK would choose 40-50 new Dutch art films every year and send these to short film and arts film festivals. This was very nice because the festivals were more likely to accept your film as part of the whole program suggested by NIMK, and it was also of course less work for him. An example of the sorts of festivals that would accept his video art work is the European Media Art Festival in Osnabruck, which he attended twice. His short film Calling 911 was a hit with festivals this way, screening over 250 times.

After NIMK was defunded it seems its obligations were split amongst a few organizations, like EYE, and LIMA. Even though Calling 911 is also now distributed by LIMA, Jan does not have the same experience of successful distribution with them, and he thinks the closing of NIMK was a real blow to Dutch video artists.

5. 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?

Not so much. But maybe because he hasn’t produced a lot of video work the last year so his gallery hasn’t had the chance to get into it. If he did more work it’s possible the gallerist would try harder.

6. So you have had work in galleries, festivals and on the internet: which do you think has been the most beneficial altogether (taking into account receiving money for work directly, or receiving exposure, or receiving offers to give a paid artist lecture, etc)?

Festivals definitely. They are best for exposure and it looks good when applying for funding to have a list of screenings. And anyway the films look their best in a cinema with a big screen and good sound, since he has no special conceptual requirement for the installation.

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