The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía presents an anthological series divided into eight programmes on the first ten years of video as a means for artistic expression in the United States, an exhaustive look at its use in phenomenological and conceptual explorations. The First Decade in Perspective. Video Art and Alternative Media in the United States reflects attempts to establish a criticism of the North American television culture, to introduce new voices in the art world, and to capture experiments in the field of performance art, creating a new visual language.
The programme Explorations: Presence, Performance and Public brings together works by artists like John Baldessari (National City, 1931) who investigated strategies in performance art, using the video monitor as a real-time mirror, a temporal tool to record and reflect and/or a type of intimately distanced theatre. A second thematic block features Investigations in the Phenomenological World arising from the exploration of the physical and experimental dimensions examined by artists in the 1960s and 1970s in a medium based on time, who turned to video to expand their structural reflections on space, sound and light. An Approach to Narrative brings together works, such as that of Richard Foreman (New York, 1937), that establish inventive formal structures to stage epic narratives and unpredictable performance pieces. Gender Confrontations features a series of works that emphasise feminist demands in 1970s culture, which had only recently been politicised, while Performance: Video Tools studies the so-called ‘artefacts’ or experiments produced by combining a series of electronic tools that represent artists’ formal investigations into the development and appearance of analog and digital tools that translate energy and time into video image systems. The last three programmes focus on media communication. Decentralised Communication Projects is directed at the great efforts made during the 1970s by artists, producers and communication media intermediaries to redefine the asymmetrical relationship between production/dissemination and reception/consumption in the United States telecommunications system. Criticism: Art and Communication Media brings together works by artists like the Ant Farm group and Richard Serra (San Francisco, 1939) who, also in the 1970s, used video to record performance pieces and disseminate manifestos criticising the conception of art as a source of pleasure. Finally, Independent Television is a programme that looks at the rich exchange established in those years between independent documentaries and television.