Black Systems - Extended Version

Joep van Liefland

16 October - 5 December 2010

smba-newsletter-118.pdf (673 Kb)

- prolonged until the 5th of december -

For over a decade, Van Liefland has collected video tapes in all and every genre, from home video’s to failed Hollywood productions, from educational films to porn movies. Much of the gallery space in Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam is occupied by Van Liefland’s still extending collection of video tapes, alongside which he presents other analogue ‘black systems’: TV monitors, video recorders, film tapes and remote controls, both physically present and reproduced on paper and canvas.

Van Liefland shared his ongoing fascination in video tape, VHS-tape in particular, with an audience before. In Berlin, for example, where Van Liefland lives and works, he turned an old garage into a video store in 2002. From this Video Palace the artist has been loaning tapes from his quirky collection of videos, next to his self made videos. Video Palace continuously developed through dozens of variations, ‘Black Systems - Extended Version’ in SMBA being the latest version.

For Van Liefland, his collection policy is a means of exploring the lower segments of the culture industry and with this, that which is discarded and forgotten. The content of his video collection is a metaphor for the redundant media it consists of. In the digital age, which inundates us with a ceaseless flow of the latest media storage systems, equipment and image formats, the analogue video tape is nothing but a relic. Even its successor, the DVD, is threatened with extinction. The decline and disappearance of once cutting-edge media is a prime concern in Van Liefland’s work.

When a medium like VHS tape disappears, its distribution channels vanish along with it, as does the architecture around it, the video store, and its related social system. In this sense, the work also deals with absence– in brief, the death of the analogue age in all its guises. On the other hand, this exhibition also calls a temporary halt to the rapid aging of modernity.

Another example offers Van Liefland’s film Donald Judd Faces of Death (2008). This film, which draws its title from the 1980 video series Faces of Death that depicts realistic death scenes, only shows the tapes of the six video’s the series consist of. Without the original content the emphasis shifts from the image of the ephemeral to the presence of the material. In ‘Black Systems – Extended Version’ Van Liefland’s media archaeological approach does not lead to an apparition, a trail of death, but to a physical residue, a presence of the analogue empire and its media artefacts that Van Liefland cherishes, manages and stores and which he transforms into topical and unique work.

The work of Joep van Liefland (Utrecht, NL,1966) is exhibited regularly at AMP-Gallery, Athens; Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Berlin/Dresden and Galerie Parisa Kind, Frankfurt and, solo, at Frieze Art Fair 2009 and Art Basel 2010, and elsewhere. Van Liefland also runs Autocenter, a non-profit artist-led space in Berlin.

The exhibition in SMBA is accompanied by the SMBA Newsletter No. 118 (NL/EN) featuring an essay written by Sven Lütticken.

Image: Joep van Liefland, Untitled (Vid.-X), 2009, silkscreen on canvas, 150 x 270 cm