In 1963, Nam June Paik placed thirteen television sets on the floor of the Parnass Gallery in Wuppertal, Germany. In retrospect, for many people, his gesture marked the beginnings of video art. Initially borne along by a critical discourse on the subject of television, which invaded households throughout the West in the 1950s, video soon became a favoured medium of expression. Its accessibility, its malleability and, above all, its instantaneousness opened up new avenues of creation for artists, some of whom used it as a witness and partner in their performances, from body art to conceptual art. In the space of a few years, the medium became an integral part of the main trends in contemporary art. Museums of modern and contemporary art quickly introduced “video art” into their programming and collections (MoMA in New York began a film collection as early as 1935).

Over the years, major video collections have been formed, each offering a survey of the evolution and growing importance of this medium in contemporary art. Every museum, every collection traces the development of video. Beyond the pioneers of the 1960s and 1970s, the likes of Vito Acconci, Valie Export, Dan Graham and Nam June Paik, and the essential Marina Abramović, Gary Hill, Bruce Nauman, Tony Oursler, Pipilotti Rist and Bill Viola who may be found in all the collections, each institution takes an individual look at current creative output worldwide and on its own local scene.

As part of the Projections series, the Musée is introducing a new series of programs on major collections of video art, beginning with that of the Musée national d’art moderne/Centre Georges Pompidou, one of the largest in the world. We will be presenting four works chosen from that institution’s New Media Collection:

My Sneakers, 2001, by Michael Blum;
Théâtre de poche, 2008, by Aurélien Froment;
Albanian Stories, 1997, by Adrian Paci;
and Floating Memory, 2001, by Liu Wei.

In conjunction with the opening, Christine Van Assche, Chief Curator and Curator of New Media at the Centre Pompidou, who has overseen the development and dissemination of its collection for over thirty years, will give a talk on the issues involved in building this collection (In French, free of charge), which comprises more than 1,700 video and audio tapes, and multimedia works. In 1990, it will be recalled, the Centre presented Passages de l’image, a historic event for video art. Then, in 2006, it opened its New Media Space, where more than 1,200 digitized works are accessible to all. The Centre Pompidou has also joined with the Centre pour l’image contemporaine in Geneva and the Ludwig Museum in Cologne to create the New Media Encyclopedia, the first Webbased, trilingual, international catalogue: