You love media art? Perhaps you don’t know how much yet. 
A platform for the ones-in-the-know might just turn more of us into believers.

Julia Sökeland and Anita Beckers, co-founders of blinkvideo.de
Julia Sökeland and Anita Beckers, co-founders of blinkvideo.de

blinkvideo.de is a professional website for research of video art, performance, and multimedia installations, founded by Anita Beckers and Julia Sökeland in 2012.

Anyone can request a login to see the approximately 2,500 works (and counting) available on the platform. For Curtain, co-founders Julia Sökeland and Anita Beckers go back to the context in which they created the platform, and tell us how it works.

Before Blinkvideo, media art in the ‘90s and 2000s, a state fo mind

Anita Beckers
I started Anita Beckers gallery in Darmstadt in 1993. The gallery showed first-time media installations by Italian media artist Alba D’Urbano. She had been the assistant of Peter Weibel (the Austrian post-conceptual artist and curator) at the Institute for New Media in Frankfurt. In 1995, D’Urbano developed the installation “Hautnah“. Based on her own body, it was one of her more recognised project and used textile and a computer programme. She was one of the first to use computers in art production. We have shown it as a fashion show in the gallery, and also at Art Cologne in 1997, and in institutions. In the ‘90s, there were no collectors for this new art-form in Germany. In 1995, D’Urbano took over a professorship at the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig. As so often, she was ahead of her time in her artistic practice. 
In 1998, the gallery moved to Frankfurt. German/Norwegian artist Bjoern Melhus and Swiss artist Yves Netzhammer introduced their groundbreaking work at the gallery. We were one of the first galleries to present video art, including at international art fairs. This quickly brought us attention, with increasing requests for viewing copies from curators and museums. In the early 2000s, the Internet made it possible to send video and film-art digitally. Julia Sökeland and I had known each other for years, and it was only by coincidence that we both had the same idea that eventually led to the foundation of blinkvideo.  

Julia Sökeland
My mother lived in Dortmund where she was collecting art from local artists working in the Ruhrgebiet region, an area between Dortmund and Cologne. The area is very industrial, it is a workers’ area. She collected a lot of art which had to do with this industrial scenery. That was the background for me to study art history. In 2000, Nasim Weiler, who also studied art history, and I started Art Agents Gallery. We started to do trips from 1997 to 2003, organising journeys to art, design, and architecture for the members of the Kunstverein in Hamburg. Nasim is now in Paris where she’s the director of the gallery Jocelyn Wolf.

I was always interested in contemporary art as a kind of mirror to society. Our main focus at the gallery was on media artists because it is a very contemporary medium to express what is going on in the world. One of the first artists we worked with were Ene-Liis Semper and Mark Raidpere from Estonia, both were very well known there at that time. They worked with themes of changes from communist background to opening up to the West. Raidpere especially, was working with political themes. That was one direction. We also worked with Hamburg artist, Anna Oppermann. Although she didn’t work with moving image herself, she was a forerunner for media artists to come. She was writing and drawing her thoughts on pieces of paper and newspaper, and put them together in big installations with coloured photo canvases. Altogether, it formed a sort of large rhizome network. She died at the age of 50 in 1993, and we worked with her estate for some years. Her work has received great attention since, and you can now see her work with Barbara Thumm in Berlin.

Blinkvideo, the making-of

Our main thought was to have a platform as a searching tool for a professional audience. It was born out of our own needs because it was difficult to find new media artists. When they are shown at exhibition or art fairs, you don’t have the time to see all the videos until the end or don’t have the quiet space to do so. I work also as a graphic designer, and so with the help of a programmer, we created the platform. Anita and I are both gallerists, the first thing we did was to ask colleagues to join, then we spread the word through curators we knew, and so on. Somehow it grew by itself. At the beginning we went to some fairs, for instance we were invited by Art Rotterdam, in 2014. In 2018, a second iteration of the platform was created to avoid using flash, that was becoming obsolete. And now blinkvideo is also competitive with mobile devices. You can watch videos on any browser and on any mobile device. All the videos have indelible watermarks.

blinkvideo is like a catalogue of works, except that it is not images but moving images. It is easier and faster for research than, for example, at trade fairs. The films are mostly shown in full length. There are also compilations made by curators, or selections from festivals, to discover unknown works or artists. There are a lot of teasers on the first page of the website. We permanently add new material. At the moment we have around 2,500 videos.

Normally we approach the galleries but they can also approach us. We also get a lot of artists sending their portfolios, and we have a small changing group of people who select what will get onto the website or not. The website is quite representative of what is happening in Europe and the US, although it is a little difficult to say for sure, as there are some very well known artists who maybe don’t need, want, or can work with us. We can’t help this. For instance, some artists are working with found footage, and for some legal reasons, or if the distributors they work with require it, they don’t want to see anything on the web.

Husband and wife artist Achim Hoops and Julia Sökeland
Husband and wife artist Achim Hoops and Julia Sökeland

Collaborations. Europe and North America, with extensions in Brazil and China

Curators can quickly choose videos by artist name, and also have a tool where they can search by keyword. We have a full text search function on the website.

I don’t see what people search for, but for instance we worked with the Goethe Institute in the Netherlands last year, and they wanted to do something around the Bauhaus. We searched for videos which had to do with Bauhaus, or the idea of it, or the architecture of it, any theme related to it, and even the opposite of it. The show was titled “Expanding Bauhaus. New Reflections on the Bauhaus Movement in Time-Based Media Art” at Goethe Institute Netherlands, in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The exhibitions took place in each one of those Goethe Institutes and on blinkvideo, with nearly the whole exhibition online. One was a very nice work from Adnan Softic, from Macedonia, the film is called “Bigger than Life”, a very strange work about a hundred million euros project in Skopje aiming at creating a brand new old-historic city center.

We have a connection to Brazil, via Videobrasil. It is very interesting there because they really present videos from the southern hemisphere, I saw a lot of artists I never heard of. In addition, we have curated and exhibition in cooperation with the Goethe Institute in Porto Alegre, with “Artemovendo – The Hidden Soul of the Inanimate”. This was a festival in Brazil, where artists such as Stefan Panhans from Germany or Luzia Hürzeler from Switzerland where presented in Brazil. I went there, both for VideoBrazil and for Artemovendo.

We also have a connection to China, with Ursula Panhans Bühler who made two exhibitions on Blinkvideo with Chinese artists in her “China Specials”. She is an art historian who worked for a long time in the art school in Kassel, Germany. She has a lot of connections with Chinese artists and students, in Beijing and Guangzhou, and teaches there too. I know her since a very, very long time. She invited my husband, Achim Hoops, who is an artist, and me to China, where we ran workshops with blinkvideo in 2017. One artist I like very much from her selections is Hu Weiyi. One of his video, called Keep Crawling, shows anti-military media performances in Shanghai.

We very much like to work with curators in this field. We don’t want to be a kind of youtube where you find everything. We want to have some kind of quality level so you don’t have to go through very, very much material, but can have it selected a little bit. For example in “Critics’ Pick: Loop Fair Barcelona 2018 by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas”, art writers and curators based in Hamburg, you can find their impression and discoveries from their visit to Loop Barcelona. Loop art fair for video art in Barcelona has galleries show videos in blacked out hotel rooms. It is certainly not a perfect presentation, but in its concentrated form, it is a very nice format and a yearly go-to gathering for media art followers.

Videonale in Bonn is another very nice festival that happens every two years. We worked with them in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. We asked the director of the festival, Tasja Langenbach, to choose some films for the platform. Of course we don’t want to hinder people from going there, so what we do is we post several trailers before the festival, and afterwards we post around 20 films from the 50 or 70 shown there.

Anita Beckers
Anita Beckers

There is no better presentation than a perfect one

The best way to enjoy video art is a perfect presentation in an exhibition. Normally the artist says what that should be like. Our platform doesn’t offer an exhibition room, with high resolution, the right light, the right place to sit, the right distance to the screen or the wall. That is also why we want to focus on a professional audience so we can be a kind of research tool rather than a presentation tool, it is something else to check something on a monitor. You can discover videos on the website, or if you have seen a film in an exhibition, you can watch it here again at your convenience. blinkvideo makes you hungry for more, but the real presentation takes place in the exhibition room.

blinkvideo.de

blinkvideo is a professional website for research of video art, performance and multimedia installations. Anita Beckers and Julia Sökeland initiated the platform in 2012 on the background of their own experience as curators and gallerists.
The web platform connects galleries worldwide and gives the possibility to present their artists online. Since March 2012 there is a pool of over 2400 video works to be looked at on the web. It is a great demand and the portal is growing very quickly.
The target audience consists primarily of art professionals such as curators (independent or associated with an institution / museum), collectors, journalists, gallery owners, art students, university professors, and related members of the art world. The use of the site is free of charge. The audience is able to use the website to access information about media artists independent of exhibition calendars or opening times and, in particular, through accreditation will be able to watch video work in full length. The search parameters allow keyword searches through all texts.
Additionally you find curated shows, presentations of video collections and screenings by media art university classes. You can get in contact directly with the representing galleries in order to buy or exhibit a video work.
https://blinkvideo.de/about/

Julia Sökeland

From 1999 to 2009 director of the art agents gallery in Hamburg together with Nasim Weiler. The gallery looked after the estate of Anna Oppermann, among others.
2004 Co-editor of the publication “Über Medialität – Anlass Anna Oppermann”. 
2004 to 2009 Organisation of the visitor support for the Falckenberg Collection in Hamburg Harburg.
Since 2008 first chairperson of the Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof. 
Since 2009 freelance work as a communication designer. 
2012 foundation of the platform www.blinkvideo.de

Anita Beckers

1995 opening of the gallery “contemporary arts and projects” in Darmstadt, 1998 move to Frankfurt
Since 1998 curator for film and video art exhibitions at the Frankfurt gallery.
From 2003 – 2010 jury member and organizer of the video art fair LOOP in Barcelona.
“Worlds on Video,” Palazzo Strozzi (Strozzina), curated by Anita Becker’s
2010 Lecture series on moving image for the Goethe Institute in Taiwan.
2012 Foundation of the platform www.blinkvideo.de
From 2013 – 2017 curator of the B3 Biennale for the Moving Image, Frankfurt.

Art critic and writer.

1 Comment

  1. I love what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work and exposure!
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