Artists’ films and videos in Belgium in the 1970s

ARGOS set this project up with a group of partners to research film and video in the context of Belgian art from the 1970s. They also want to digitise a selection of artists’ films and videos in order to safeguard them for public access. The digitisation will be associated with art-history and technical research.

Challenge

ARGOS wants to ensure that artists’ films and videos, and their associated documentation, does not disappear off the radar. By safeguarding a selection of this work, the aim is to fill in gaps for this area of our art history which has hitherto remained largely undescribed.

Daniël Dewaele, (Geduld) Wachten, Attendre, Wait, Warten (1977). © the artist

Aanpak

Phase 1

The ARGOS collection and archive consists of over 5,000 artists’ films and videos. ARGOS wanted to use this as a starting point for charting how Belgian artists used film and video in the 1970s. They collaborated with the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp for this, where the International Cultural Centre (ICC) archive is located, and which has already been home to a video studio since the 1970s – giving artists the opportunity to experiment with the medium of video and document its manifestations. They have drawn up an exhaustive inventory of artists’ films and videos from the 1970s – through archive research, literature study and interviews with artists and key figures from this period.

They selected works from this list which they’d like to have digitised, based on art-historical value and relevance for the research. This project combines research into art history with technical aspects. Discussions with artists helped to document how works of art were installed in the past, and how they can be converted for modern playback equipment and presentation contexts. We also investigated the role of certain institutions such as the International Cultural Centre (ICC) in Antwerp and Galerie Yellow Now in Liège, and of collectives and action-oriented platforms.

Phase 2

The second phase (until end September 2020) consists of digitising the selected works of art, restoring a number of key works, and clarifying the rights that these works of art are subject to.

Phase 3

The researched content and research results will be shared with professionals and other target audiences by means of a publication, a symposium, an exhibition and various screenings in the third phase from October 2020.

Meemoo's role

Phase 1 investigated whether meemoo (formerly VIAA) could fit the digitisation of the selected works into its ongoing or planned digitisation waves. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Meemoo and ARGOS did however agree to include works from the 1970s which arise at a later stage (after 2020) or fall outside the scope of the project (e.g. performances) in meemoo’s future digitisation waves. This will be possible as soon the works become part of the ARGOS or the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp collection..

Meemoo provided ARGOS and the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp with access to each other’s digitised audiovisual collections. And our Catalogus Pro was used for the inventory. Finally, meemoo (formerly PACKED) advised on drawing up a quotation request for digitising the artists’ technical information sheets and photographic materials. ARGOS also performed quality controls on the digitisation results with support from meemoo.

In phase 2, meemoo provided the project partners with further access to each other's content.

In phase 3, meemoo is committed to:

  • providing partners with further temporary access to each other's content via the archive system and Catalogus Pro;

  • being a partner in unlocking research results and the works themselves (demand-driven);

  • using its expertise to advise and support the creation, storage, unlocking and exchanging of digital heritage sources (demand-driven);

  • developing technical case studies together with ARGOS to make information available via the CEST and TRACKS knowledge platforms, which can act as an example for the art and heritage sector;

  • sorganising a number of public events (such as workshops and a symposium) together with ARGOS, paying attention to technical research, technical aspects of digitisation and restoration, and dealing with digital heritage in general, among other things;

  • charting at-risk heritage content together with ARGOS and other stakeholders, and informing and raising awareness of these issues among institutions that manage collections. This also includes verbal and non-tangible heritage or types of art heritage for which no structural solution has yet been worked out at policy level (e.g. photographic slides). This will take place via project communications and events.

Partners

Alongside ARGOS and the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, the following partners were involved in one or more phases of the project: meemoo, Cinematek, RITCS School of Arts (Royal Institute for Theatre, Cinema and Sound), VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), KMSKB (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium).

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