A still from Raida Aidon's 2014 video "Woman Without a Home" A still from Raida Aidon's 2014 video "Woman Without a Home" A still from Raida Aidon's 2014 video "Woman Without a Home." (Photo: YouTube)

Video art going mainstream with a boost from international museum partnership

Brandeis' Rose Museum and Tel Aviv Museum of Art team up to offer a prize to video artists.

The nearly 50-year-old form known as video art continues to grow in popularity as technology makes it increasingly accessible. Recently, Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art announced they are teaming up to help promote the work of emerging Israeli video artists. 

“Video art is perhaps the most exciting art medium today,” Rose curator Ruti Direktor told From the Grapevine. “It’s been developing since the 1960s, and has seen a tremendous advancement in the last two to three decades with the development of technology.”

Direktor said the increased access to video – almost anyone these days can shoot video with just a smartphone – makes the video art medium even more challenging for today’s artists. What was once groundbreaking can now be interpreted as mundane.

As a result, Direktor said some of today’s artists are turning more toward “cinematic” visions that require bigger crews to produce superior quality. However, there remains a good deal of parity, she added.

“Some of them are turning toward more cinematic directions … others tend toward the more rough, straightforward aspects of filming,” she said.

Video art differs from traditional television, commercial or experimental film in that it can take on various forms, from broadcasting to “sculptural installations” to multimedia performances. It started in the late 1960s and early '70s as recording technology became more accessible to the general public outside of broadcast studios. “So, for the first time there was no gap of history, nor of artistic ancestors, and Israeli art had the – almost – same starting point as any other scene,” Direktor said.

Directors and board members of the two institutions got together May 25 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to announce the  shared initiative. The joint project includes the establishment of the Chami Fruchter Video Prize Award, which will be given every other year to an Israeli video artist on the rise – in other words, an ambitious artist who is still seeking his/her first big break. The award is a $10,000 prize and a show at both the Rose and Tel Aviv museums. The artists’ work at both museums will be cataloged.

The award is named after Lazar Fruchter’s wife, whom he credits for his love of contemporary art. The Fruchters are Rose Museum benefactors and parents of one Brandeis grad and another current student.

Rose Museum director Christopher Bedford told Brandeis University newspaper BrandeisNOW that Israel is the "standard-bearer" of the moving image.

“Radical innovation in video art in Israel over the last decade makes this stretch of time the most significant creative period in the country’s artistic history," he said. The establishment of the Chami Fruchter Video Prize will enable (the museums) to both chart and support the medium’s continued growth in the hands of Israel’s most promising video artists.”

Check out a video installation by Alex Hubbard, one of several artists with installations at the Rose Art Museum, below:

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