Tate with the Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and the nonprofit media-art center Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) is the recipient of a major gift of seminal video and new-media works from San Francisco-based contemporary art collectors Richard and Pamela Kramlich.
The Kramlich gift includes 21 works including some of the most important achievements in the field of media art from the last three decades. They represent a range of contemporary explorations in time-based art spanning 1970 to 1999 including works in various media – video, slides, film, audio, and computer-based installations – by artists broadly considered to be pioneers in film and video installation, such as Marina Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Dara Birnbaum, Marcel Broodthaers, Peter Campus, James Coleman, Valie Export, Dan Graham, Gary Hill, Beryl Korot, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Thomas Struth and Klaus vom Bruch, and Bill Viola. A younger generation of artists who have built upon the aesthetic groundwork of their predecessors, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Doug Aitken, Matthew Barney, Stan Douglas, Steve McQueen, Diana Thater, and Keith Tyson, to name a few, is also represented in the gift.
Pamela Kramlich said:
We have been collecting these important works for years with the intention of sharing them with the public. We are thrilled that they can finally come out of storage and be properly showcased. Inviting world-class institutions such as MoMA, SFMOMA, and Tate to share in the stewardship of NAT’s holdings continues a cycle of collaboration that extends across the globe and will touch countless viewers worldwide.
The museums in the group are consortium members of the New Art Trust (NAT) founded by Pamela and Richard Kramlich in 1997 with the goal of advancing media arts through the support of research and scholarship in the field. The works included in today’s announcement join 180 single-channel works the Kramlichs have given to NAT since its inception in 1997, making it one of the richest archives of media art in the world.
Works in the Kramlich Gift:
1. Marina Abramovic, Cleaning the Mirror #1, 1995; five-channel video installation with stacked monitors; dimensions 112 x 24 1/2 x 19 inches.
2. Vito Acconci, Pornography in the Classroom, 1975; video and projected-image installation with sound; dimensions variable.
3. Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Anne, Aki & God, 1998; seven-channel video installation with sound; dimensions variable.
4. Doug Aitken, Eraser (linear version), 1997; single-channel video installation; dimensions variable.
5. Matthew Barney, Scabaction, 1988; single-channel video and 12 mixed-media drawings; dimensions variable, each drawing 5 x 6 1/2 inches.
6. Dara Birnbaum, Attack Piece, 1975; two-channel video installation with sound; dimensions variable.
7. Marcel Broodthaers, Fig. 0, Fig. 1, Fig. 2, Fig A (Example G), 1971; five 16mm films and 62-x-81-inch canvas cinema screen.
8. Peter Campus, Interface, 1972; single-channel video installation; dimensions variable.
9. James Coleman, Photograph, 1998/99; single-channel video installation with sound; dimensions variable.
10. Stan Douglas, Hors-Champs, 1992; two-channel video installation with sound; dimensions variable.
11. Valie Export, Autohypnose (Auto Hypnosis), 1969/73; video action/interactive video installation; dimensions variable.
12. Dan Graham, Body Press, 1970/72; 16mm film installation; dimensions variable.
13. Gary Hill, Cut Pipe, 1992; video installation with sound; dimensions variable.
14. Beryl Korot, Dachau 1974, 1974; four-channel video installation; dimensions variable.
15. Steve McQueen, Just Above My Head, 1996; 16mm film transferred to video.
16. Bruce Nauman, Raw Material OK, OK, OK, 1990; two-channel video installation with sound; dimensions variable.
17. Nam June Paik, TV Buddha, 1989; single-channel video and mixed-media installation; dimensions variable.
18. Thomas Struth and Klaus vom Bruch, Berlin-Project, 1997; four-channel video installation with sound; dimensions variable.
19. Diana Thater, Surface Effect, 1997; two-channel video installation; dimensions variable.
20. Keith Tyson, Artmachine Iteration AMCHII-XLII: Angelmaker Part II Quadruped, 1995; multimedia installation with sound; dimensions variable.
21. Bill Viola, He Weeps for You, 1976; water drop from copper pipe, liver color camera with macro lens, amplified drum, video projection with sound; 12 x 26 x 36 feet.
Notes to Editor
New Art Trust
Since its foundation in 1997, the trust has facilitated the conservation and presentation of important time-based media works and significantly increased awareness of the unique conditions media-art installation presents for both private collectors and collecting institutions. The trust’s endorsement of international, advanced-professional symposia in the area of conservation has helped bring to light the fact that traditional boundaries among collecting institutions are often counterproductive when it comes to electronic art forms. For this reason NAT partnered with three major museums – MoMA, SFMOMA, and Tate – to form a consortium dedicated to public education and intensive research related to the special requirements of media artworks. The forum’s goal is to answer the need for agreement among museums and collectors worldwide regarding the presentation and long-term care of technologically advanced art works.
Pamela Kramlich said: 'While NAT and the consortium have not yet finalised a curatorial plan as to how the donation will be utilized and shared in terms of loans and exhibitions, the member institutions are committed to meeting these challenges cohesively and with utmost attention to the artists’ concerns regarding how the works are treated.'
Speaking about his video work, artist Bill Viola has acknowledged the need for a different sense of tradition when it comes to collection management of media art. “If I’m not there, how loud is loud, how dark is dark? How much contrast is in the image? How do we codify that?” Also of concern among industry professionals is aging technology, which could alter the look of a work or possibly even prevent it from being viewable in the future. Many early pieces, originally shot on film, have since been transferred to Beta, then VHS, and now DVD, and each change impacts the piece’s nature. Such issues are the focus of NAT, and its initiatives acknowledge the need for institutions to work collectively in order to solve these challenges.
In spring 2005, the trust’s members collaborated to launch Media Matters (www.tate.org.uk/mediamatters), a public Web site providing practical information and best-practice guidelines for the conservation of time-based media, including process diagrams, budgeting templates, and loan-agreement standards. A Tate-hosted site, Media Matters represents the first phase of an ongoing dialogue among curators, conservators, and technical managers from all four institutions, focusing on the intricacies and methods pertaining to loan process and institutional purchase in particular.
The Kramlich Collection
The Kramlichs began building their collection in 1992, a time when collecting primarily time-based works was unprecedented and considered an unlikely pursuit. Since then, they have expanded their collection to include some 300 works by more than 60 international artists. In 1999, SFMOMA organized Seeing Time: Selections from the Richard and Pamela Kramlich Collection of Media Art, the first major exhibition of this groundbreaking collection. In November 2002, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, a MoMA affiliate, presented Video Acts: Single Channel Works from the Collections of Pamela and Richard Kramlich and New Art Trust, a comprehensive exhibition of performance-related single-channel video works.
The Kramlichs’ interest in electronic art stems from a commitment to support contemporary art practice, combined with a firm belief in the potential of new technology – film, video, digital imaging, and editing/compositing software – as an expressive tool. Although long-term care of these media remains fairly new and uncharted territory, the Kramlichs have thoughtfully assembled their remarkable holdings piece by piece, making theirs both a living collection and an example of a particular period of time for the benefit of future generations.