new-york

João Onofre

I-20 Gallery

Now that video art has evolved (or degenerated) to the point that it simulates the slickness of television or film, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that video started out as an “alternative” medium—a means of creating art that would employ mass-media technology while standing apart from its machinations. Many early video projects were performance based, featuring artists whose appearance and delivery were strictly unprofessional: deadpan, stiff, unactorly (think of Martha Rosler’s feminist kitchen tutorials. loan Jonas’s body-centered videos, or Bruce Nauman’s water stunts). Although early video art has often been criticized for being “boring,” its strong links to other practices like performance often kept it grounded, focused on visual ideas that can’t get lost on the cutting-room floor.

In many ways, the work of Portuguese artist Joio Onofre recalls the dawn of video. Like

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