Video Data Bank Newsletter ::: March 2017

VDB TV: Decades

Problematizing Pleasure / Punk Theory

Liza Béar | Dara Birnbaum

Cecelia Condit | Tony Oursler | Julie Zando

VDB TV: Decades Problematizing Pleasure / Punk Theory

“I was born in 1963, and so the 1980s mean something to me, but I’m not sure what. I think it good, for instance, that I didn’t get AIDS and die. Also, that I only flirted with semiotics. Like cybernetics, which started in the 1950s, grew to dominance in the 1960s and simply faded away in the 1970s, we once believed in semiotics. In the 1980s, it was the way to understand how images contained meanings/produced discourses, and how texts circulate. (How do they circulate? Intertextually.) Perhaps semiotics was the dying gasp of modernism, a conservative strain of modernism posing as postmodernism. The death of the author resulting not in the birth of the reader, but in the birth of a severe, obscure, hermetic semiotician.”

Continue reading Steve Reinke‘s essay Problematizing Pleasure / Punk Theory

Steve Reinke is an artist and writer best known for his videos. His work is screened widely and is part of several collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), the Pompidou (Paris, France), and the National Gallery (Ottawa, Canada).  His videos typically have diaristic or collage formats, and his autobiographical voice overs share his desires and pop culture appraisals with endearing wit. Born in a village in northern Ontario, he is currently Associate Professor of Art Theory & Practice at Northwestern University.

VDB TV: Decades, a five-part curated screening series exploring VDB’s unique archive, casts a distinctive eye over the development of video as an art form. This program is streamed for free on the VDB TV platform as part of Video Data Bank’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations.

VDB TV: Decades now available for purchase!

About VDB TV:

VDB TV is a rotating series of groundbreaking programs presenting essential video art, streaming free for the first time to the general public on the Video Data Bank website. From early media pioneers, to sensational contemporary artists, VDB TV provides unprecedented access to the culturally significant Video Data Bank archive of more than 600 artists and 6,000 video art titles. VDB TV is curated by prominent programmers and moving image art specialists. To advance accessibility to the VDB collection, all programs included within VDB TV feature closed captions for the hearing impaired.

VDB TV is supported in part by a Media Arts award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how NEA grants impact individuals and communities, visit

VDB Artists Showcased in the Whitney Biennial

March 17th-June 11th, 2017

We are thrilled to announce that Video Data Bank artists Basma Alsharif, Kevin Jerome Everson, Sky Hopinka, Dani Leventhal, Leslie Thornton and James Richards have been included in the lineup for the Whitney Biennial 2017! The exhibition includes sixty-three participants, ranging from emerging to well-established individuals and collectives working in painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, film and video, photography, activism, performance, music, and video game design.

Congratulations to all of the artists as well as curators Christopher Y. Lew, Mia Locks, and film program co-curator Aily Nash.

“The 2017 Whitney Biennial is a Pitch-Perfect Survey of Art Today”

“The show already feels nostalgic—most of the works were chosen before last year’s Presidential election. Remember back then?”
The New Yorker

VDB Artist Screenings at the Whitney Biennial 2017:

All screenings take place in the Susan and John Hess Family Theater. Each Sunday, the screening will be followed by a conversation with the artists joined by writers, curators, and scholars. Advance tickets are available at

Upgrade Surveying the First Decade and save 15%!
Librarians, Video Data Bank invites you to upgrade your VHS copy of Surveying the First Decade: Video Art and Alternative Media in the U.S. 1968-1980 and finally recycle that dusty old VHS player. Through April 2017 we are offering an unprecedented 15% discount to upgrade Surveying the First Decade from VHS to DVD! Contact our Distribution Manager, Zach Vanes, at for further details.

VDB Artist News — Spring 2017

In this month’s Artforum, Dennis Lim has written a wonderful incisive piece on Sky Hopinka‘s work. Lim writes: “The searching, striking digital films of Sky Hopinka are complex formal arrangements, conceptually and aesthetically dense, characterized by an intricate layering of word and image. But they are also wellsprings of beauty and mystery, filled with surprising confluences of speech and song, color and motion.”

Elisabeth Subrin‘s feature film A Woman, A Part will have its theatrical premiere at the IFC Center (New York, NY), March 22nd-28th, including a in-person Q&A on Wednesday, March 22nd. You can read more about Subrin’s smart and emotional feminist endeavor in Erika Balsom’s overview of this year’s 45th International Film Festival Rotterdam for Artforum.

Cornelia Sollfrank will exhibit at Studio XX (Monréal, Canada), March 30th-April 22nd. Commons Lab will take a closer look at the overlapping areas of feminism, digital art, and commons.

Art AIDS America, organized by Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA) in partnership with the Bronx Museum of Arts (New York, NY), culminates its national tour at the new Alphawood Gallery (Chicago, IL), established for this exhibition by the Alphawood Foundation. This vitally important exhibition features work by VDB artists Gregg Bordowitz, Tom Kalin, Ellen Spiro, and Tran, T. Kim-Trang. Continuing through April 2nd, 2017. Free and open to the public, you can view the video introduction to the exhibition HERE.

Jules Maeght Gallery (San Francisco, CA) presents Bitter Creek Sweet Water, a group exhibition influenced by the nostalgia of the American West featuring the work of VDB artist Paul Kos. The exhibition opens February 16th and runs through April 29th, 2017.

CentroCentro (Madrid, Spain) is currently exhibiting Martha Rosler‘s seminal video Semiotics of the Kitchen through May 21st, 2017.

Paul Chan has a solo exhibition Rhi Anima currently on view at Greene Naftali (New York, NY). Rhi Anima features a new body of work Chan calls “breathers.” The breathers are both sculptural works and moving images. This is his third solo exhibition at the gallery and will run through April 15th.

Sky Hopinka: Translations and Transmutations


Thursday, March 16, 6:00 p.m.
Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.

A Ho-Chunk Nation national and descendent of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Sky Hopinka creates sublime polyrhythmic works that draw upon his history and identity. He presents a selection of recent works built around ideas of homeland, language, and landscape. In the dazzling Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary (2016), audio of one of the last speakers of Chinuk Wawa, a Native American language from the Pacific Northwest, echoes over images of memorials and contemporary structures around the city of Portland, Oregon that have complicated connections to the Chinookan people who have lived there for thousands of years. In a new work, filmed at the site of the Standing Rock resistance, the land is at once living and abstracted through history, politics, and money. Also on the program are I’ll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You’ll Become (2016), Visions of an Island (2015), and Jáaji Approx. (2015), among others. In English, Hocak, Aleut, and Chinuk Wawa with some English subtitles.  

Presented in collaboration with Video Data Bank (VDB) as part of the organization’s 40th Anniversary Year.

2015—17, USA, digital file, ca 60 min + discussion

Sky Hopinka in person

Sky Hopinka was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs, and Riverside, California, and Portland, Oregon and is currently based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Portland he studied and taught Chinuk Wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.