1. THE ARTGUIDEEAST INTERVIEW ↱ CROSSTALK ED7

    The international festival Crosstalk Video Art Festival Budapest aims at introducing the newest trends of media and video art year by year. The application for the 7th edition is open until 30th August . On this occasion we asked the project leader, Szilvi Német about this year’s concept and about the history of the festival.

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    Barbara Dudás: This year will be the 7th edition of Crosstalk. How did the festival start in 2008, what was the original idea behind initiating a video art festival?

    Szilvi Német: The festival was grounded not by me but by Adrien Török, independent curator. After some years she could not go on with the organization, and I took over its administration in 2011. We did not want the already well-established and somewhat also embedded brand to be lost, so we try to nurture it year by year during these concentrated 3 days of the festival. As much as I know of the founding story, Adrien was closely connected to the Intermedia Department of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts and had a good professional relationship with János Sugár and others, together whom they fostered the idea to have a platform through which the dernier criaesthetics and most current discourses of the electronic image making can be mediated.

    BD: How do you see the Hungarian media and video art scene, does it have a specific position in the region?

    SZN: The A-side of how things are going here at home might not be that upbeat, if we consider how the architecture of the institutional background of new media research and database or even commerce has gradually been washed away. Usually by the fact of being unfinanced or ill-supported, projects like Videospace Gallery or C3 that were the prominent stakeholders in this field are now gone or stopped working further. Still, individual initiations and experimental workshops and collectives flourish, and that’s a good news. Among the newest generation we find promising talents graduating from the Animation Faculty of MOME, from the Intermedia Department (which is not exclusively focused on video of course), and visual productions now go more side by side with electronic music-making, more often we find this two spheres of the electornically generated sign intertwined. I won’t say that artists would hold positions like video artists anymore, their practice is multi-layered, transdisciplinary and transmediated, so in the age of digital reproduction or post-media condition it is just normal to reflect on media usage in your activity. But not by all means in a well-defined, separate way.

    BD: How does the concept (and the categories) of the festival formulated in each year? Do you usually have an idea beforehand or is it mainly influenced by the submitted artworks?

    SZN: Crosstalk is a festival that is literally and physically redefined year by year. First of all, it is an urban nomad which means, that we choose different venues time to time, and that also defines a lot – the format of the display, the environment – about what you wish to articulate. In the initial period, the festival was more connected or dependent on well-frequented, even cult places of Budapest nightlife, like it popped up in Gödör, Merlin, Gozsdu in the first years. Later we also tried the huge industrial, the white cube gallery or the conventional art cinema setting, mostly drawing on a special kind of spectator’s view that can be defined by the modes of circulation rather than on the modernist way of watching something from the beginning till the end. Last year for instance we used as a slogan and re-furnished the environment in a way how it appeared in the Bowie-film of ’76, The man who fell to earth. In an epic scene of the film, Bowie was watching 57 TV screens at once and I connected this approach to postmodern theory, I used to read a lot of Jameson at that time. Jameson finds the core of postmodern look especially in this condition: when the flow of images is captured in their radical difference rather in their autonomous being.

    BD: What are your expectations this year? Do you have some specific topics and themes you are interested in?

    SZN: All in all, detecting trends and phenomena that are now in the air and overwhelms our everyday life is very central. With the 7th edition we will reflect with separate curated blocks on the discourses of new materialism in the era of the post-digital, on what I call the Snapchat aesthetics of the ephemeral, or short life-spam products, connected to the trend how attention is drastically shortened with the hyperlinks, on the political usage of video, on new typography etc. This year we give up to be located at one festival venue that concentrates all our programs, instead a timetable and program schedule will be made up and the locations are selected for the thematics.

    The following places are going to be involved: Higgs Field Contemporary Art Space, the newly opened pub Tesla at the back yard of the Museum of Electrotechnology, Kontra KlubLumen Grocery, and even an open air venue at the Liberty square to be connected with dilemmas of political activism. What’s more, a private appartment is also gonna be involved, so we really try to stratch these video days to the shape of very different set of screening events.

    Plus, we co-operate with foreign festivals each year, the newcomers will be the psychedelic video selection supplied by Tripoteca (Romania), the nomadic and poetic vein by L’Oeil d’Oodaq (France) and a special video program curated by Magmart (Italy) will be inserted on the topic of Five Senses.

    Video sections so far:

    a, Open Call finalists I Raison d’ETNOTOURISM

    b, L’Oeil d’Oodaq [Rennes, Fr] I Exploration et diffusion d’images poétiques

    c, Tripoteca Psychedelic Film & Art Festival [Bucharest, Romania] -I Metaphysical Matters

    d, 5Senses – Taste I venue: Lumen Grocery

    e, curated#1 I Short life span: Graphic Design Now I Die Neue Typography, 3rd generation Neogeo, Make ugly thing

    f, curated#2  I Toppling down the Mighty I Revolution or garden party? I venue: Liberty Square

    BD: Which countries are the most dedicated to participate in the festival?

    SZN: File transfer is now bourgeoning, so we can finally get rid of the hindrance of postal delivery, I just got a quite downright letter from Iran today confessing that state control won’t let their videos leave the country, so until internet is not censored we can reach out for these very problematic geopolitical areas, as well. Anyway, video is the only one medium that eliminated physical transport, so we can really work with a worldwide coverage. Thanks to this, the conventional discourses of central-periphery zones are much faded here, the cultural empires are not overrepresented by any means. From last years’ experience, we used to receive surprisingly lot of applications from the eastern part of Asia, the festival was even featured in a printed magazine of South Korea. You are invited to check out our statistics here.

    BD: How can one apply for the festival?

    SZN: Via a filesender together with a filled entry form that you would find on the homepage of our site, all mailed to info@crosstalk.hu until 30 August. Advisory only: duration of the file should not exceed 15 minutes and the genre is not film, but video. It’s certainly a delicate categorizing, but average short films with linear narratives and classic dramaturgy are not in.

    The festival will take place between 25 and 28 September. Check our social media pages for the programming.

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    Szilvi Német (1985) is a curator, critic and art historian. She is currently involved in the artistic management of Higgs Field Contemporary Art Space, and is active as the project leader of Crosstalk Video Art Festival since 2011.

    http://artguideeast.org/2014/08/27/crosstalk-video-art-festival-in-budapest/

     
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  10. The Czech Paradise for Animation

    The Olomouc-based Czech collective, PAF came to the fore as a true ‘festival animal’ in the year of 2000, right after that a small team was officially attuned to undertake the representation of Czech animation filming as a high priority. At start, ‘classic animation film’, ‘animation technique’ and ‘national cinematography’ hashtagged the festival’s master strategy; even though since then the theoretical approach slightly changed, these genre manifesti still remained the hit pieces in their profile. The following interview was made with Marie Meixnerová, program manager of PAF - Festival of Film Animation and modern art.

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    Szilvi Német: What’s the ‘differencia specifica’ of PAF and along what keywords would you best describe your activity?

    Marie Meixnerová: Well, PAF started in 2000 as trueborn Festival of Film Animation. Back then, its subject was primarily classical animated films, various animation techniques, national cinematographies etc. Although we are still concerned with these things and they are very important to us, still having their place in our festival programme, our theoretical thinking about animation changed little bit over time.

    I would say that the major changes came about five years ago with the new leading team – Alexandr Jančík as director of the festival and Martin Mazanec as program manager and author of the unique program concept. Both guys are quite well known for their theoretical and critical thinking on animation as any manipulation of moving image, which was in my eyes pretty close to example gratia theories by Austrian experimental filmmaker Peter Kubelka (who actually came to PAF as main festival guest in 2008 to make my major experience with animation).

    So after that, the new approach came into the fore, and PAF started to deal more and more with experimental cinema, videoart and modern art in general, all those areas that involve the manipulation of moving image and animation principles. We sticked with the name Festival of Film Animation however, because animation is still the main principle behind all our dramaturgy.

    Today, PAF deals with a wide conception of animation phenomena in the context of cinematography, media studies and visual arts. Here are the terms that rank among the key words and the leading topics: animation, archiving, audiovisual art, database, design, digital culture, experimental film, intermediality, cinematography, presentation, motion picture, remediation, video art, net art.

    Sz.N.: Could you specify the major experience that you underwent with Kubelka?

    M.M.: [laughs] I was not yet part of the team at that time of those conceptual changes, observing PAF just “from the outside” and coming to the festival as journalist, very young, very critical and very, very sceptical. After almost accidentally attending Kubelka’s remarkable lecture, my understanding of film, animation and life in general were deeply influenced if not radically changed. I started working for PAF the following year, as translator. After some time my fruitful theoretical activity in the area of digital art has been noticed and I was invited to join the close team and work directly on the program.

    Sz.N.: Is PAF more oriented towards knowledgeable professionals or is there any strategies for reaching further (being popular)?

    M.M.: PAF is committed to high quality dramaturgy, professionally exploring the areas of certain themes or phenomenon for given year. In December 2013 it will be for example Czech animation in the communist 50s or Kinetics of Image; among themes for previous years were e.g. Net Art, Urbanism Animated, Live Animation, Rotoscopy, Goys and Birls in Animation dealing with gender issues and many others. There are 7 programme sections every year.

    All our programme sections are curated. It means that on the programming of given section works either one of our permanent program managers who has excellent orientation in given area, or invited expert in given area. He or she curates their section according their best knowledge and theoretical and critical beliefs. The approach of the curator to their section is clearly reflected via their texts in our festival catalogue and in professional introductions before screenings, talks/lectures or workshops during the festival. 

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    Since our program is very vivid, reaching from classical animation screenings to experimental cinema, life performance, audio visual concerts of great stars, installations, workshops, covering last trends and developments as well as serious theoretical and historical questions, our program is praised by people with very different areas of interest. The audience consists mostly of Czech and international high school and university students and of professionals, but the program is aimed also at general public. We always try to accompany some program or whole program section beneficial for children or family audience. One can say that following just one program section of your interest would fill pretty much of your time at our festival.

    I would not say we aim to reach more wider audience, and we definitely won’t give up our elaborate and critically well acclaimed high-quality program for being “pop” to attract more attention from wider public or sponsors. There are many other festivals and cultural institutions that are good at this but don’t have the expertise to deal with the stuff we are dealing. And I still believe there is fundamental need for platforms such ours in the world. 

    Plus, I personally would not be exhilarated by thousands of one-time visitors, since we enjoy the constant circle of supporters – people who are really interested in the art of moving image and modern art in general. Also the capacity of festival space is limited, since the festival is taking place in the beautiful baroque building of a former Jesuit monastery, that is now Art Centre of Palacký University in Olomouc, which gives the festival quite unique and intimate atmosphere. Visitors, organizers, theoreticians and leading artists, all of us in everyday, intense encounter, engaging into serious conversation and small talk, making connections, having fun and enjoying the ever-present art, it’s just pure magic PAF is most remembered for.

    But we also use other nearby spaces throughout the city for screenings, concerts or installations, traditional movie theatre Metropol, Mlok gallery and gallery Vitrína Deniska, or Jazz Tibet Club for AV concerts.

    Sz.N.: Where would you locate the activity of PAF within your national institution system? Do you work closely with any non-profit or for-profit Czech institution?

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    M.M.: PAF developed into rather important platform for presentation and promotion of contemporary art of the moving image home and abroad, and for promoting and raising awareness of different conceptional and interpretational views on animation as such,  embodied not only in the 4-day festival, but also in its all year long curatorial and publishing activities. PAF is also unique in its close connectedness with the university in research projects, workshops, seminars and lectures. We attend and have contributions at conferences and symposia and presentations at festivals at home and abroad, and we even have our own editorial series.

    In PAF Edition are released anthologies, catalogues and translation publications, authorial and artistic publications, and even DVDs, CDs or Vinyl. It might be of your interest that some publications from our edition can be purchased at Higgs Field gallery in Budapest.

    As part of our all year long activities, we closely cooperate with galleries and all major festivals to curate exhibitions and screenings, and we are also curators of various exhibition spaces. In 2012 for example Martin Mazanec did as part of PAF activities all year curatorial cycle in Youth Gallery, Brno called Fragile Cinema, Alexandr Jančík curates exhibition space Vitrína Deniska (vitrinadeniska.cz) and I am curator of contemporary digital art gallery Screen Saver Gallery , to name just few random activities. But we do this not only in Czech Republic, but also with our partner institutions abroad – in Budapest we cooperate with Crosstalk Video Art Festival, Anilogue festival and KAFF, we have partner institutions in Poland, in Croatia, Slovakia… actually it looks like we don’t work with for-profit institutions ;)

    This year we started cooperation e.g. with Fach & Assendorf gallery in Berlin, Germany (that is actually an on-line gallery of digital art) and with We Manage Filmz India. We like fruitful dialogue and change of ideas.

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    Sz.N.: What type of display situations do you exploit and if there is any ideal typical way to furnish the exhibition of moving images what would it be in your opinion?

    M.M.: Maybe this would be the right place to point out the one and only competition section of our festival, which plays, I guess, also quite important role within the context of Czech moving image. It’s called Other Visions and since 2007, its aim is to map the current production of moving images of film and video in the Czech Republic, concentrating on the works that lie on the boundary of animation, experimental cinema and video art. As other sections of our festival, this one is also curated. 

    The selection of final ten is every year unique thanks to the interest divergence of authorized curators, who select the final ten works nominated for the competition. The festival jury is principally international – in previous years, among the jurors were eg Martin Arnold, Ivan Ladislav Galeta, Pip Chodorv, Constant Dullaart, Stanislav Ulver or Gabriele Jutz.

    The main criteria for submission into competition are the premise that the work is possible to be screened in the cinema and is not older eighteen months. Both professional and amateur artists can submit their moving images.

    And the final ten is showed at our festival as installation plus screened in traditional cinema situation in the movie hall. So the display situations and exhibition situations are always important for us. The whole festival place of former Jesuit boarding school (“Konvikt”) with its various corners is usually understood as “one big installation” inhabited by invited artists (so called Konvikt Residents) and skilfully curated by Alexandr and Martin. At PAF, we are exploring also virtual spaces, and my commitment to the festival seems to lie in systematically exploration of presentation of art – and art of the moving image particularly – in physical versus virtual space and in dialogue of these spaces and various presentational situations. I am exhilarated to see the outcomes of cooperation with Fach & Assendorf gallery, which will this year connect the physical space of our festival with their on-line gallery space, and with Screen Saver Gallery, which will develop the dialogue of the moving images with presentational situation of computer screensavers throughout the world. 

    Sz.N.: How many members and with what type of qualifications / duties does your project team consist of?

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    M.M.: PAF is put together by a professional team and every year students of film, theatre and media studies, who have the opportunity to enforce their own curatorial programmes, are challenged to cooperate. The whole year activities are exercised by the hard-core professional team of 5 or 6 people, during the festival would the team, counting all the supporting stuff, translators, festival catalogue team etc., reach app. 100 members, many of them university students getting their experience and helping with the festival. 

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