Shift an International touring exhibition of European Video Art, featuring new works by Sigrid Coggins (France), McCormack and Gent (UK), Alli Maria Savolainen (Finland) and Alexander Steig (Germany).

Shift was developed in partnership with Imagepassages: Annecy, France, FORO ARTISTICO: Hannover, Germany and Av-Arkki: Helsinki, Finland and toured to the four partner countries.

Top image: children enjoy Shift during one of a series of workshops delivered for Art Gene by artist Anji Archer, 2004


Shift an International touring exhibition of European Video Art, featuring new works by Sigrid Coggins (France), McCormack and Gent (UK), Alli Maria Savolainen (Finland) and Alexander Steig (Germany).

Shift was developed in partnership with Imagepassages: Annecy, France, FORO ARTISTICO: Hannover, Germany and Av-Arkki: Helsinki, Finland and toured to the four partner countries. Art Gene being the British partner venue.

A new artistic experience that shows the diversity of video art production in the limitless domain of the moving image.

Art gene partners with media art centres in France, Germany and Finland to present Shift, an exhibition of contemporary video art by 5 artists from 4 European countries.

Shift was organised by imagespassages in Annecy, France in celebration of their ninth anniversary. Annie Auchere Aguettaz, Project Director of imagespassages, invited nine artists from nine European countries – Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Holland and Slovenia to present new media works throughout the city of Annecy (France). Shift opened in Annecy in October, 2003.

For its European tour to Germany, UK and Finland, Shift included only the artists represented by the partners in this project – Art Gene (UK), FORO ARTISTICO in Hannover (Germany), and AV-Arkki in Helsinki (Finland). After Annecy, Shift toured to Hannover in February 2004. The tour will end in Helsinki in April.

Shift is an EU Culture 2000 project. The general objective of the EU Culture 2000 Programme is to create a shared cultural area bringing people together while preserving their national and regional diversity. Its aim is to support the mobility of artists, the dissemination of art and culture, and inter-cultural dialogue.

Shift considers geographical, cultural and artistic boundaries. In an irreverent and critical sense, Shift is where all possibilities collide.

Participants from 30 European countries took part in the EU Culture 2000 Programme: artists and arts organisations from the 15 Member States, the three countries of the European Economic area, and the 12 accession countries.

Art Gene is pleased to be one of the participants. We are delighted to celebrate the work of Alexander Steig from Munich, represented by FORO ARTISTICO in Hannover; Alli Savolainen from Helsinki, represented by AV-Arkki, Helsinki; Sigrid Coggins from Annecy, represented by imagespassages, Annecy, and mccormack+gent, from Sheffield and London respectively, represented by Art Gene.

The presentation of Shift at Art Gene is supported by the European Commission and Arts Council England, North West.

Image gallery below:
Sigrid Coggins (France) Serial Portraits, 2004
Mccormack and Gent Are Not Talking, 2003

Sigrid Coggins (France)

Serial Portraits, 2004

With Serial Portraits, Sigrid Coggins explores the ambiguous situation of who is portraying whom?

The starting point of Serial Portraits is to ask someone to participate, for just 5 minutes, in an exercise that puts into play the direct look, and the unconscious projected look of one person at another. “We will make a simultaneous double portrait: You will draw my portrait with one restriction; never look at the paper. Me, I will film you while you do it, without holding the camera…. “

From the recordings I will make video portraits. Here I select the moment when the participants lifts their heads after seeing their drawing for the first time. The captured look is similar to that of a creator to their work at that moment when their work strays from them to meet the world; where they can have an exterior view, where they perceive it as a stranger, where they judge it, where they allow themselves to be surprised by their own art work.”

Sigrid Coggins, 2004

mccormack+gent (UK)

Mccormack and Gent are Not Talking, 2003

Mccormack and Gent are Not Talking is the title for an ongoing series of works by T.C. Mccormack and Martin Gent.

This is the second project in the series and sees the artists developing ideas on collaboration as a creative conflict.

This installation sees Mccormack+Gent considering the limits of their collaboration. They have set out to encourage their personal differences and indulge their individuality. Now they are confronting the consequences.

In Mccormack and Gent are Not Talking, the artists are reconsidering their actions, shared space and language in order to gain new insight into their roles in the collaboration.

Their collaboration is considering a difficult truth, the loss of identity, how personalities coexist, and whose work is it anyway?

T.C. Mccormack and Martin Gent are represented by Art Gene.

Alli Maria Savolainen (Finland)

Eternal Traveller no 4, 2004

In her installation Eternal Traveller, Alli Maria Savolainen deals with time. The work wants to create a certain atmosphere or feeling, for the viewers to dig into their own thoughts and memories on time, to find out what it means to them personally.

The work also aims to show how irrational life is. The piece communicates through simple metaphors: “everyone is walking alone” or “time passes by”. But the message is not that of hopelessness; there is human warmth in the air.

The installation is a place where one can pause for a moment. It does not tell a story; it is a place where the viewer makes her/his own story with her/his own time and memories – a story that happens here and now; a poem of life that is unique and could not be told in another way. And after a while even that story will be only a memory.

The installation is a composition of three video images with sound that varies according to the exhibition space. A new version is made for each exhibition based on the previous place it was last exhibited.

Eternal Traveller no. 4, at Art Gene is the fourth version of the installation. No. 1 was shown at the Cable Factory Gallery in Helsinki in February 2003, No. 2 at imagespassages in Annecy, France, and No. 3 at FORO ARTISTICO, Hannover.

Alli Maria Savolainen is represented by AV-Arkki, Helsinki, Finland.

Alexander Steig (Germany)

Visual arts and (mainstream) film reference each other again and again in the contemporary discourse. With good reason: exciting problems such as the correlation of perspective and representation, desire and control, as well as static and moving pictures are of central elements in both aesthetic systems. This also applies to the works of Alexander Steig, especially his duo-room (video)installation BREAK. First, some references to the world of film. Couples love to remember: the movie Lost Highway, by cult-director David Lynch, starring beautiful Patricia Arquette. Someone unknown regularly observes a married couple in their own apartment; each morning the naturally anxious couple receives the results of the observation on videotape, unsolicited, just left in front of the house. Suddenly one of these tapes shows a future murder, visually moved forwards on tape.

A more recent example from contemporary film history: Panic Room, by David Fincher, this time starring the incredible Jodie Foster. From a secure room, like the title says the Panic Room, a mother and daughter observe – threatened by three burglars – these burglars as they move all over the house. Then all of a sudden the observation room becomes an instrument in the hands of the supposedly locked-out criminals. The relationship between video-technique and space appears in the movies again and again. Some more examples of video- and observation-focused films: Sex, Lies and Videotape, by Steven Soderberg, American Beauty, by Sam Mendes and, last but not least The Blair Witch Project, by Daniel Myrick. The amassing of such films is no coincidence: the dialectic of locked in and locked out, of in- and outside, as well as real time and playback with the relation of video and space leads to the point.

Moreover, these three dialectics are fundamental for the perception of film in general. Two quick related points: A. Frenchman Gilles Deleuze emphasizes in his film theory that there are always two sides to the perception of film, because this perception would be a study of the eye, which on the one hand includes perception of visual perception, the seeing of the seen. On the other hand, the cinematic receipt, always the “reverse – imagination, mind or knowledge“ – comes to light.1 It is exactly this duplicity of the receptive events that prevents a quasi uncertain identification, but nicely allows a reflective insertion of the self. This leads to the consequence that you are always inside and outside at the same time at the movies. Who actually has Brigitte Bardot in bed in the wonderful movie Viva Maria from Louis Malle. B. In her important essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, the feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey handles exactly this point of seen subject and filmed object of desire. For Laura Mulvey it is of great importance that there are quasi three views at the movies:

1. the camera’s view, which creates the illusion of a renaissance-room,
2. the audience‘s view towards the people acting in front of the camera;
3. the views of the acting artists among one another, which brings desire to the viewer, but does not give him the possibility to interact.

In short,: The effect of Laura Mulvey’s developed trisection is the erasure of the concrete room to the benefit of a thrilling-psychological happening.2 But what does all this have to do with Alexander Steig‘s work BREAK?

The answer becomes apparent by taking a closer look: There are two rooms, one is accessible, the other is not. The inaccessible room, which is only visible through the door, is being filmed in real-time with a stationary camera. Inside there is a Film Noir scenario, with chair and table among other things. On top of the table are an ashtray, fan and a phone, which – bringing to mind Sergio Leones, Once upon a time in America – rings from time to time, calling for interaction, for picking up the phone. Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, also rings a bell. In the second room, the accessible one, welcoming rows of chairs are standing and the scenario from the first room is projected on the wall in real-time. One is in the room at the same time, at least in the imagination, in another one. The American artist Robert Smithson called it “Non-Site“; the French philosopher Michel Foucault “Heterotopy“. In any case different modalities of inside and outside, of activity and passivity, of identification and defence penetrate this unlocated installation.

By the way, all three moments, therefore all three glances, that Laura Mulvey describes, as mentioned above, appear in the work BREAK.

1. the camera’s view, which creates the illusion of a renaissance-room
2. the audience’s view of the scenario in front of the camera
3. the views of the acting artists towards one another however, those which create mood in the viewer, but do not allow him to interact, here simply occur by the ringing phone

Apropos renaissance-room: Alexander Steig willingly created an “unmotioned” picture in BREAK, much like a still shot. This way the artist manages to stretch the questions of identifying view and interacting viewer onto the genre of painting, even representation in general. Here one likens back to the legendary painting, The Maids of Honour, by Velasquez, in the interpretation of Michel Foucault: The seeing of seeing and the make ability of the visible the Frenchman writes in The Order of Things, in 1966: “This painting of Velasquez may certainly contain the representation of the classic representation and the definition of space, which it opens. It surely does undertake to represent itself in all the elements, with its pictures, its views, which it offers itself, the faces, which it makes visible, the gestures, which the representation evokes…..” .3

Raimar Stange, Berlin, 2002
Translation: Daniel Hautmann, Hamburg

1. Gilles Deleuze, Time Machine, Frankfurt a. M. 1997
2. Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, in: Texte zur Theorie des Films, Stuttgart 1988, S. 389 ff.
3. Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, Frankfurt a. M. 1974, S. 45

Workshops with Anji Archer

Serial Portraits, 2004

Artist Anji Archer was commissioned to provide a series of workshops for schools and special needs groups, exploring portraiture and projection which referenced works within the exhibition. The students worked in pairs, rendering images of their partners, using a single line, whilst not looking at the paper. The resulting drawings were characterful and surprisingly recognisable portraits.

Special Film Screening

To celebrate the opening night of Shift, Art Gene created a special film screening event in partnership with S1 Projects Sheffield and AV ARKKI, Helsinki. The films were curated and introduced by Michelle Cotton who showed S1 Projects S1 / salon,UK films and Kirsi Vakiparta: AV ARKKI who showed a presentation of contemporary Finnish Films to complement the works in the Art Gene Gallery.

External Links

Mccormack and Gent
Alli Savolainen
Alexander Steig 
Sigrid Coggins 


Image gallery below:
Eternal Traveller no 4, 2004, Alli Maria Savolainen (Finland)
Give me a BREAK, Alexander Steig (Germany)


Image below (footer):
Special film screening event in partnership with S1 Projects Sheffield and AV ARKKI, Helsinki.

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