Focus: Video Library is a film and video exhibition created for the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía by the Galleria d'Arte Moderna (GAM) in Turin. The GAM has created a museum video collection, which could not be found in Italy until well into the 1990s, and has managed to build up a large collection of works that are now available to the public. The collection includes pieces by artists like Vito Acconci (New York, 1940), Dan Graham (Urbana, 1942), Marina Abramović (Belgrade, 1946) and Martha Rosler (New York, 1943) from the era when video was first being used as an art medium, works by John Baldessari (National City, 1931), Marcel Odenbach (Cologne, 1953) and Ana Mendieta (Havana, 1948 - New York, 1985) from the 1980s and more recent pieces from Sadie Benning (Madison, 1973) and Lydie Jean-Dit-Panel (Montbéliard, 1968). The selection also contains video works by young Italian artists, including Paolo Chiasera (Bologna, 1978) and Marcello Maloberti (Codogno, 1966), among others.
In the words of Elena Volpato, the GAM curator, the first requirement that the institution established when creating the video collection and choosing the artists was compatibility with the gallery’s funds. This meant constantly bearing in mind the multiple nature of video work, which can be a breeding ground for the most common stereotypes in art collecting, and the tendency to condense the complexity involved in the search for important artists into a few works. Given this perspective, Focus: Video Library does not limit itself to works on video, but recognises the continuity between this medium and earlier experimental works on film. The reasons include the fact that for several years, the connections and dialogue in the audiovisual sphere have been decidedly geared towards other forms of art rather than taking conclusive root in the field of video. The challenge faced by the museum - one that a museum alone faces - is recognising these new domains through exhibitions of their collections that do not put the video library or auditorium out of bounds for these works.