Sign of the Times: A Decade of Video, Film and Slide-Tape
Installations 1980-1990, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford.
Sign of the Times, curated by Chrissie Iles, offered a unique overview of a decade of moving image work by two generations of British film and video artists. The exhibition, which toured to Europe through the British Council, is the first of many important shows that took place at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford during the 1990s. Iles presented the exhibition in two parts and each piece was configured either as a single room installation or placed in relationship to other works in a large open space. Her emphasis was therefore on the manifestation of video as an experiential interface, rather than as a medium isolated from context, as its purists at the time would maintain. Two filmmakers, Jayne Parker and Cerith Wyn Evans, were shown in a gallery setting for the first time and video artists included Judith Goddard and Holly Warburton. The older generation was represented by classic works from Susan Hiller (Belshazzar’s Feast), Stuart Marshal (Journal of a Plague Year) and David Hall (The Situation Envisaged: The Rite II). This was the first time that the generations had been placed together in a major space and the exhibition not only sought to highlight influences and new developments, but also counter the marginalisation of moving image work in the British gallery system. The show took place on the cusp of a decade which would see: the emergence of a new generation of British artists who did not separate film and video from any other artistic medium; the dominance of video installation as a format within the mainstream art world; a new market for collecting limited edition video and film works; the growing marginalisation of film makers who fitted in neither with the gallery system nor ‘art house’ cinema; the decline of video’s relationship with broadcast; the emergence of the VCR as a new tool for artists; the development of interactive digital arts and massive changes in the UK public funding system for the commissioning of moving image work.
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