Each of the festivals presented in the previous “episode” of this survey (read here), if taken as a whole, would represent a potential wide online archive of digital native works, if gradually an inventory was reached that would safeguard its ownership and offer a scientific filing of authors and works according to a protocol recognized by the Central Institute for Catalog and Documentation of the MiBAC. The first step towards a coordinated articulation of the widespread archive today represented in Italy by the various video art festivals could be the organization of a National Consortium of Videoart Festivals and Archives with a dedicated website. The goal would be to host a collection capable of unifying and managing the contents of each database that includes, however, already existing operational organizations such as the Visualcontainer Association born in Milan in 2008 thanks to the initiative of Alessandra Arnò, Giorgio Fedeli and Paolo Simoni, whose aims are promotion and distribution of the videos in the archive “for exhibitions, institutional and educational projects and private screenings. The cultural service carried out is aimed at curators, museums, institutions, galleries, teachers and even simple lovers of contemporary art, who want to exhibit or consult works of video art. Visualcontainer distributor protects the artists’ copyright by allocating them 50% of the proceeds relating to the temporary use concession. Alongside the distribution activity, Visualcontainer develops curatorial projects, promotes international cultural exchanges, publications, artistic events and provides information and educational support (seminars, workshops). The promotion and dissemination of video art also includes international exchanges, curatorial and educational events, also carried out in collaboration with festivals, universities, institutional and non-profit organizations in Italy and around the world.”
Also in Milan, starting from 2009, an important video art archive was born, the ArtHub, a project for a very important website dedicated to contemporary art, UnDo.net, active between 1995 and 2015, created by the duo Premiata Ditta s.a.s. that is, Anna Stuart Tovini and Vincenzo Chiarandà. The archive has not been updated since 2015 due to the closure of UnDo.net, but still offers a significant cross-section of audiovisual productions starting from the early nineties of the last century with over a thousand works in the archive recorded in 2013. ArtHub, such as declared by its curator, Cecilia Guida, stands “as a permanent observatory on the contemporary creative scene: in particular, the project intends to enhance the artists who work in video and sound art through the archive and the online platform, promote their works, favor access to a vast and extended audience […] In a reality that provides for a state of continuous and essential connection, knowledge takes place and develops, first of all, online and on search engines; consequently, collective spaces, such as Art Hub, represent a fundamental resource for the interests of curators, critics, artists, collectors and enthusiasts, allowing them to carry out searches by names, titles and keywords.”
In Rome, in 2009, starts its activity the C.A.R.M.A. Center for Applied Multimedia Arts and Research, an important organization entirely dedicated to digital arts and in particular to audiovisuals and their interactions with other artistic disciplines. Founded and directed by the curatorial team Le Momo Electronique, it operates under the artistic direction of Lino Strangis, flanked by the curators Veronica D’Auria and Maurizio Marco Tozzi and this brings us back to the sense of initiatives such as Over the Real since the aims of the association, such as stated on the website, is to operate: “in Italy and abroad by organizing exhibitions, events, festivals, concerts, workshops and conferences in the field of multimedia arts. The association proposes itself as a structure for research, production and promotion of contemporary arts, paying particular attention to electronic and digital arts (video art, video installations, computer art, sound art, intermediate theater, avant-garde cinema and experimental electronic music). Objective of the C.A.R.M.A. is to consistently offer a comprehensive overview of the state of multimedia arts, proposing wide selections of authors, from international pioneers to national promises, to local talents, through constant monitoring and collection, also through the publication of international calls and from the establishment of the archive for audiovisual arts and research music.” In fact, the website hosts a list of artists with data and links to personal websites, however the works are not visible.
The conclusion of this short journey through the major festivals and organizations for the promotion of video art in Italy is simple: each of them is currently self-referential, perhaps for obvious reasons related to the territorial management of the events. However, they contribute to creating a widespread but incomplete, disorganized, arbitrary database based on the good will of each entity. It would be worth that the various managers assume the burden of achieving a scientific standardization of the census, inventory and cataloging of each digital native work and of the authors present in their respective archives, according to standards and protocols defined at ministerial level, this in order to arrive at an online consultation tool that would represent a precious resource for all interested parties, but not only. It would give authority and dignity to an art form which, despite using a language that is widespread worldwide and exhibited in major international shows, in this country seems even less than marginal and niche. Forgotten by the market due to their infinite reproducibility, semi-hidden in the artists’ websites or in their accounts on dedicated platforms due to the plagiarism to which they are constantly exposed, digital native works still await a safe way to be cataloged, enjoyed, disseminated.
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Visualcontainer, logo by Alessandra Arnò
Elisabetta Di Sopra, Dust Grains, 2014
Rita Casdia, STANGLIRO, 2013
C.A.R.M.A, logo by Lino Strangis
Francesca Leoni-Davide Mastrangelo, Simulacro, 2016
Marcantonio Lunardi, The Choir, 2013
Cosimo Terlizzi, La benedizione degli animali, 2013
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.