The INVIDEO festival, organized in Milan since 1990 by the Italian Association Amici Cinema d’Essai – AIACE, explicitly declares to be an “international exhibition of video and cinema beyond […] a reference point for all audiovisual production linked to ‘electronic art and new technologies.” It is important to point out what is described on the exhibition site as it highlights how the promoters have privileged the technological evolution of devices, applied to the languages of every single genre, also giving space to the projection of experimental cinema works on film: “the purpose [of the exhibition is] to provide Milan with a permanent archive dedicated to international experimental art (video art, cinema and research and experimental video, documentaries, video music, dance and theater videos, portraits of artists, experimental fiction …), acquiring year after year, through in-depth reconnaissance and ad wide range, the most significant Italian and international works that are presented to the public during the extensive annual exhibition. On the occasion of the event, in addition to the presentation of a particularly rich and diversified program, meetings with the authors, previews, debates, retrospectives, performances and video installations are proposed.” The works acquired in the archive, which have been digitized over time, are of different types, both from the point of view of the original formats and as regards the genres and underlying rhetoric. In the rich array of catalogs, published since 1990 and accompanied by critical texts, it is possible to trace the original cards of all the works shown during the festival days. The value of INVIDEO consists in having first created a vast archive open to the public, first hosted in the “Medialogo” spaces in the Province of Milan, then in the concrete spaces of Fabbrica del Vapore, also in Milan. The exhibition has seen various directors, consultants and curators alternate since 1990. In the last period it was directed by Romano Fattorossi (always present since the first edition) and by Sandra Lischi, with the artistic advice of Elena Marcheschi. The organization and the archive are by Alessia Barzaghi.
Avvistamenti (non) è un Festival is celebrated in Bisceglie. Born in 2002 as an articulated project of the Cineclub Canudo, its title echoes the traditional vocation of the territory to keep constantly under observation the coasts threatened by the sea. By extension, organizers Antonio Musci and Daniela Di Niso warn: “Sighting means looking far away, seeing what is distant or not easily visible. Sighting presupposes boundaries to be crossed, so distance is not intended as a barrier, but as a territory to be explored, in which to venture first. Avvistamenti, since its first edition, has been a reference point for research and experimentation in the artistic field, including video, cinema, music, theater and contemporary art, with projections, exhibitions, video installations, workshops, meetings and live performances of the invited artists. Avvistamenti is a project dedicated to audiovisual and sound innovation, artistic and cinematographic experimentation, author video and electronic and contemporary music, the connection between different artistic languages, intermediality and expanded cinema, the relationship between sound and image, interactive and multimedia installation, video art and video performance.” Basically, and it should be emphasized, Avvistamenti (non) è un Festival focuses precisely on artistic languages and their interactions or, as they say lately, on their hybridizations. Although the organizers insist on the impossibility of a rigid post-digital categorization, they observe a respectful distance between genres, their poetic idiom, and widen their attention to the relationship between image and sound to the point of dedicating a specific section entitled Sonimage to their interactions. Avvistamenti also has an international scope that sees the participation of important foreign artists and has an archive that is in the process of being digitized and inventoried.
In Naples, since 2005, the Magmart international video festival has been celebrated, under the direction of Enrico Tomaselli. It is a non-competitive exhibition dedicated exclusively to video art works with participations from all over the world. In fifteen years of activity it has collected an archive of two thousand artists and thousands of works currently only partially available on the festival website without active links to the videos for copyright reasons. According to Enrico Tomaselli: “The Magmart festival was born in 2005, with a dual purpose: to enhance Italian video art, and to strengthen the artistic-cultural exchange with the international video art scene. In this perspective, especially as regards the first point, the search for good opportunities to bring Italian video art to the institutional places of contemporary art has been constant. Since its first edition, the festival has therefore established a partnership with the CAM – Casoria Contemporary Art Museum (Naples), where the final event of the festival takes place, with the screening of the 30 selected videos, which in turn go to enrich the collection of the museum itself. Over the years, the festival has established several collaborations, both in Italy and abroad. The fifth edition of the festival, in addition to the usual final event at the CAM, was characterized by the full screening of the over 300 videos sent, during a three-day event at the PAN – Palazzo delle Arti in Naples. Likewise, the seventh edition saw the full screening in the headquarters of the Universal Forum of Cultures. Since 2013, in parallel with the festival, special projects have been organized such as the 100×100 = 900 project. 100 international artists were invited to each make a video on a year in the 1900s. In 2014, the F.I.V.E. Feelings International Videoart Experience project followed. The project was focused on the five senses, and was activated through an open call, from which a jury selected 25 videos, five for each of the senses. In 2015, the FOODS project, coinciding with the Universal Expo in Milan, which had as its theme “Feeding the planet – energy for life”. Since 2014, the festival has become biennial. “
In Bologna, starting from 2006, the Videoart Yearbook is held, an important event entirely dedicated to videoart research. Promoted by Renato Barilli, the scientific committee initially avails itself of the collaboration of Alessandra Borgogelli, Paolo Granata, Silvia Grandi, Fabiola Naldi, Paola Sega, recently joined by Guido Bartorelli and Pasquale Fameli. The festival was born within the Department of Visual Arts of the University of Bologna and since its inception has contributed in a fundamental way to select and promote the most interesting video art research at national level. The initiative, aimed mainly at university students, immediately gained an authoritative role at a national level and has become a reference point for artists and enthusiasts. The formula chosen by the curators provides for an explicit and natural adherence to the world of contemporary art of works on video, however opening up to the varied forms of research and experimentation proposed by the artists. Every year a personality from the world of contemporary art is invited to give a conference on his/her professional experience related to video art. In 2009 a catalog of the yearbook of video art was released, which collects methodological essays from the scientific committee and cards for each of the one hundred and four artists presented during the first three years of the exhibition. A first archival nucleus that has grown over the years thanks to constant research in the field. As stated in the flap on the back cover, video art worldwide is one of the most popular artistic languages: “Bologna has some priority merit in this field, given that in January 1970 an exhibition was held there in which a network of monitors already appeared, animated by a closed circuit and intended to transmit works directly recorded on electromagnetic tape. Renato Barilli, who was one of the curators of that exhibition, later became the dean of the contemporary art sector of the Department of Visual Arts of the Petronian University, and he felt the duty and moral right to establish an annual review of the best video production, limited to our country. “
Also in Bologna, but starting from 2015, Meta-Cinema is held which has as its subtitle: Non-competitive festival of hybrid audiovisions. The exhibition aims to present all-round digital audiovisual experiments, that is, beyond genres, focused on the hybridization of languages, themes, poetics, in all audiovisual areas: from documentary to animation, from video art to video performance, from video dance to video theater. As for the yearbook of video art, it is an academic initiative aimed mainly at students, aimed at disseminating research in the audiovisual field, but followed by many artists and experts in the field. The concept of the festival starts from some crucial considerations: “starting from the digitization of analog signals, expressions such as experimental cinema, artist cinema, underground cinema, video art, video performance, animation, are becoming less and less valid in defining audiovisual creations – now essentially focused on post-production and editing – since they are able to make use of every product available in digital form, always creating new aesthetic hybridizations that recombine languages and repertoire, genres and techniques, with almost unlimited expressive potential and nuances.” Meta-Cinema is a cultural project at the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna and is curated by Piero Deggiovanni and Teresa Valdaliso. The exhibition has an international scope and contains sessions of studies on the various aspects of video art in relation to the poetics and research carried out by the main Italian and foreign authors, and is in collaboration with the Royal College of Spain in Bologna. Since 2020, the festival archive is part of the Accademia’s Historical Fund and is be open for consultation.
IBRIDA, Festival of intermediate arts, was born in Forlì in 2015 with the aim of investigating and disseminating the most recent productions and research in the field of experimental audiovisual (videoart, found footage, meta-cinema, 2D and 3D animation, etc.), welcoming also performance art and electronic music in a completely natural way. It is a non-competitive festival curated by the Vertov Project Cultural Association, with the artistic direction of Francesca Leoni and Davide Mastrangelo. HYBRID blooms from the seeds of a previous festival, curated by the Leoni / Mastangelo duo, and since 2016 it has been spread over several days within Fabbrica delle Candele and other spaces in the city of Forlì. This festival, according to Davide Mastrangelo: “does not arise from a specific cultural or economic request, but from our need to create a physical space, in which to meet, which was lacking in our territory. A place dedicated to hybridizations, a festival that would put audiovisual experimentation at the center of the issue and that would give space both to established artists and to young talents. Hybrid with respect to the languages of audiovisual codes of recent years. This is a theory that we have faced and discussed several times. With this we would like to underline that we absolutely do not want to draw boundaries, because experimentation has always been free from patterns and in continuous evolution. We as artists and researchers supported by critics and scholars limit ourselves to presenting the phenomenon for what it is by broadening the road. “The idea of presenting the ongoing artistic research without any prejudice is reverberated by the space hosting the festival which, due to its structure – a large courtyard overlooked by rooms of different sizes – leads to the idea of community and sharing, of taking direct and simultaneous with the reality of the contemporary.
Moving to the West, and more precisely to the Gallery for Modern and Contemporary Art of of Viareggio, again starting in 2015, we find Over the Real. International video art festival. Under the artistic direction of Maurizio Marco Tozzi and Lino Strangis, the festival has a scientific committee that avails itself of the advice of Veronica D’Auria, Alessandra Arnò, Adonay Bemudez, Gabriel V. Soucheyre. The exhibition aspires to an international connection and, according to Tozzi’s words written in the 2015 catalog: “it was born thanks to the collaboration of experts in the sector who have not only played the important role of selectors of the works but have contributed to insert the Viareggio Festival in a circuit of contemporary art that has already contributed in bringing to light many European cities that, thanks to digital culture events, have created new interesting scenarios also from a tourist point of view.” Going more into the merits of the general meaning of the Festival, Strangis, emphasizes that “to introduce the mentality that underlies this festival it would be enough to refer to the reasons that led us to choose the title OVER THE REAL (“beyond reality / reality beyond”) and immediately propose a first basic question: ‘what is reality?’ […] a definition made up of precise boundaries between what exists and what constitutes an interpretation by man, who perceives and re-elaborates phenomena, assigning them qualities and behaviors that cannot be found as actually present. […] In the works of the artists that we present, alternative realities are configured which, coming to be on screens, in our Space-Time, literally expand the range of phenomena that make up reality, always pushing beyond the bar that marks the limits of what it is knowable. And, if things exist in a certain way when we observe them, then when you enjoy one of these artworks, they literally increase reality.” The festival hosts lectures, educational meetings and performances. Since 2019 Over the Real is an integral part of the Lucca Film Festival.
Invideo, logo by Beppe ReFraschini
Devis Venturelli, Sculpt the Motion, 2017
Avvistamenti, logo by Studio grafico “labbestia” (Stefano Ciannamea e Serena Coppolecchia)
Ilaria Pezone, asmrrrr molesto, 2019
magmart, logo by Enrico Tomaselli
Eleonora Manca, Vedersi visti (da qui, sottrai), 2018
Videoart Yearbook, logo by Paolo Granata e Silvia Grandi
Sara Lorusso, Welcome to My Room, 2018
Metacinema, logo by Teresa Valdaliso Casanova
Ibrida Festival, logo by Francesco Galli
Over the Real, logo by Studio grafico Bogus Lab
Piero Deggiovanni (Lugo, 1957) is professor of History of Contemporary Art and History and Theory of New Media at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. He is a critic and researcher in the field of contemporary art, with particular attention to the artistic context of his territory. For several years he has devoted himself exclusively to research, focusing on the relationships between art and new digital technologies dedicated to communication. He is particularly interested in video art and media hybridization.