THIRD MILLENIUM VIDEO by Joep van Liefland
Joep van Liefland, Men & Depressions I, 2008, Silkscreen template, 100 x 70 cm
For the exhibition Garden of Eden, the Dutch artist Joep van Liefland has made a selection of short video films with the title Third Millenium Video. These self-produced, mostly black & white silent videos have been featured -often simultaneously- in Video Palace; a chain of big multi-media installations, which the artist has set up in parking lots, crack dens, shop windows and even art galleries over the last 10 years.
Most of van Liefland's videos deal with an exterior world or modality acting upon a subjective interior. The characters in his films are all played by himself, thus confusing the schism between the character and the artist. The films are partly lowbrow style experiments, circling around certain parameters such as 'physicality', 'decay', 'explicitness', 'male identity', and 'perception'. There is often an element of obsession and density involved, also in the camera movement and the depiction. Thus, for van Liefland filmmaking is not about following a specific procedure, style or coherence, but more about creating a synthesis of certain visions, questions and reflections he has in regard to other videos and media. By breaking down existing formats and reassembling their iconography the artist creates poetic, but also explicit fusions of different genres, resulting in films with titles like 'Donald Judd Faces of Death'.
Joep van Liefland is a Dutch artist working with the dying technology of analogue video and VHS-tape in particular. For over a decade van Liefland has collected video tapes in all and every imaginable genre, from home videos to failed Hollywood productions, from educational films to porn movies. In Berlin, where he lives, van Liefland turned an old garage into a video store in 2002. From this Video Palace the artist rented out tapes from his huge and bizarre collection of videos. A collection, which also inspired his own video films, turning Video Palace into both a video store and a video production house.
Within his practise, the artist explores the lower segments of the culture industry and with this, that which is discarded and forgotten (like analogue residues). Besides the iconography of the moving image, the artist also focuses on the archeology of media and the collecting of various media artifacts. Video tapes and VCR players along with different analogue distribution and storage systems are used in installations and also as templates for large silk screen prints.
In the digital age, which inundates us with a ceaseless flow of the latest media storage systems, equipment and image formats, the analogue video tape is nothing but a relic. Even its successor, the DVD, is threatened with extinction. The decline and disappearance of once cutting-edge media is thus van Liefland’s prime concern: The medium is the message.
Joep van Liefland lives and works in Berlin where he also runs the not-for-profit art space Autocenter with Maik Schierloh.