Daata Art Fair
COLIN LANG spent a few hours at the Daata Art Fair and thinks you should too!
At most art fairs in physical space, moving image works suffer. Either due to the lack of attention for longer pieces more than a few minutes in length, or because the traditional spaces provide less-than-ideal conditions under which to sit down and soak in the atmosphere that artists work hard to create. Necessity is still the mother of invention, and so the DAATA art fair – an online platform developed in 2015 with the express idea of giving films, videos, and moving image works a more suitable place for viewing – arrives just in time. Twelve galleries are featured as a part of the fair, which runs from 1–20 December. Other galleries are also participating online, though they are not “officially” part of the fair. For the fair works, contributions vary in tempo, length, formal approaches, and everything else that is suitable for viewing. The featured videos run the gambit from short, digital, formalist experiments to longer documentary and appropriated footage works and even an opera. The wide range of techniques is complemented by an equally diverse assortment of themes. If you can make it through all of the videos (we have lots of time at home, so no excuses!), your mind will be forever altered, jostled, and open to investigations long in the making.
The most effective examples are those that put viewership on display, inviting us to reflect on our positions in front of the screen (regardless of device). In Larry Achiampong’s voiced-over film presented by Copperfield and set in London, The Expulsion (2019), the camera brings us close to the shift work – cleaning in particular – that undergirds offices and operations that decide the future and livelihoods of those who remain hidden from view, carrying out their labour in the shadows of late dusk. “Your morning knows nothing of what our night sees”, a poetic chime sets in over slow-moving shots. “We dust away the sins lingering on your keyboards”, a male speaker explains. Thoughts turn to day traders and stock brokers leveraging the weight of global capital, while those “expelled” make the monitors and phones appear shiny and unsullied. It is an art fair, after all. Is your keyboard clean?
The Lower East Side gallery Magenta Plains presents the most startling and captivating videos of the bunch with three works by the US artist Jibade-Khalil Huffman. They are all long, but every shot counts, and there’s barely a moment to breathe before the next hammer drops. Huffman uses the video console as a poignant and powerful mixing board, slowing down audio clips, replaying auto accidents in reverse, and putting it all to a curated soundtrack whose range is wider than our brief attention spans, from Stevie Wonder to Autechre to the comedy of Dave Chapelle. The circle motif, especially present in the eponymously titled, The Circle (2020), the newest work of the group, cuts through found footage and live scenes, connecting the otherwise unique videos like a record label stamped onto a spinning disc, revolving, able to move backwards and forwards, signalling the potential for endless remixing.
Huffman’s is a musical sensibility, and at the risk of fetishizing origins, it seems possibly to be a nod to the city of Detroit, where Huffman was born. It’s called motor city by some, where the former hub of the industrial manufacture of the cars we witness colliding is also the birthplace of techno and DJ culture as we know it. Rather than merely illustrating the infuriating divisiveness and browbeating nature of contemporary media, Huffman puts himself at the console, re-performing the very onslaught of image wars and their dead end languages of representation.
For those suffering from fomo, you can stream Trulee Hall’s libidinous libretto and performance, Tongues Duel the Corn Whores, An Opera (2020), which was performed earlier this year in London and presented now by Maccarone. Other highlights include small golden cgi creations limping around virtual spaces by Alex McLeod offered by Postmasters Gallery, and Patrick Panetta’s metal mash-up of sci-fi images set to the Overmind, Café Durban (2020), which may damage your ears (in a good way).
With any good book, or nice bottle of wine, you can savour all of the Daata goodies over time, which is a luxury we might have forgotten when it’s forced upon us. Luckily there’s still a few days to download and watch and keep up with the ever-shifting present, which still requires a moment or two for introspection.
Daata Art Fair
Colin Lang is Spike’s Senior Editor.