Celebrating Artists’ Engagement with Television

In the early 1950s Argentine-Italian artist Lucio Fontana addressed the Italian TV-watching public with his seminal manifesto on television’s potential as a space where art can thrive. He began: “For the first time anywhere we Spatialists are transmitting, through the medium of television, our new forms of art.” A historical text in new media art, “Manifesto of the Spatial Movement for Television” was signed by 16 Spatialist artists in addition to Fontana. The manifesto refers to transmissions of Spatialist artworks that were being broadcast on Italian television, yet unfortunately no recordings exist today. Anahita Razmi brings new life to the manifesto at Moving Image London, using Fontana’s text as the basis for her work Replays/Replace.

As is the case in Replays/Replace, Razmi is known for appropriating iconic works of art (in this case a text), and presenting them in an unexpected context. Known for performance works in addition to video, in the past she has recreated works by Trisha Brown and Yoko Ono, performing them in public spaces in Middle Eastern cities.

While Fontana used television to disseminate images of light shining through his Concetto Spaziale works, canvases with punctured holes or slashes through them, Razmi uses the medium to offer a contemporary staging of Fontana’s historical message. A single-channel, 20-minute video, Replays/Replace consists of nine video clips of television presenters from the Austrian channel ORF III reading Fontana’s 1952 manifesto. Clips were filmed on set at the television company’s studios, in between takes of regular programming.

Utilizing presenters and settings that are recognizable among the Austrian public, Razmi references the television establishment and uses its influence to draw attention to Fontana’s message from 60 years ago. In revitalizing Fontana’s message, Razmi points to its continued relevance, especially being played within the context of Moving Image London.

Replays/Replace is on view at Moving Image London 2013 at Carbon 12 Dubai.

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