Pera Museum opened a new exhibition "This is Not a Love Song," an intriguing and comprehensive exhibition exploring the crossovers and relationship between video art and pop music. Curated by F. Javier Panera Cuevas, the exhibition features 26 works by 28 artists from the U.S., Japan, France, the U.K., Spain, South Africa, Iraq, Belgium and Canada. A diverse video screening program is also presented in parallel with the exhibition. Presented in collaboration with Screen Projects from Spain, the exhibition will run until Feb. 7, 2016.
"This is Not a Love Song" traces the genealogy of the relationship between video art and pop music, emphasizing the moments in which they crossed roads from the 1960s to today. The exhibition consists of six chapters: "Art in Pop / Pop in Art," "Hysteria and Religion," "Rock and Conceptual Art: ‘Non-musicians' vs. ‘non-artists,'" "Rock and its Double," "Pop music as a ‘toolbox'" and "The Politics of Dance Music." It includes significant works in the history of video art and experimental film that are formally and conceptually related to the iconography of pop and rock.
Many artists approached rock & roll, pop, psychedelic, glam, punk, soul, disco music, hip-hop, indie pop, electronic music or short-lived sub-genres and music trends developed over the last 50 years in some of their works, sometimes collaborating with different rock bands or recording their own albums. Similarly, most of the leading musicians of the last two decades were trained at art schools prior to their musical careers.
A hybrid genre, rock music emerged long before the visual arts as one of the first postmodern cultural movement to tear down the barriers between high and low culture, between the stage and everyday life and between "new artistic behavior" and show business. During the 20th century, artistic and musical practices traveled along parallel paths where the history of pop music is used as a toolbox, and the concepts of experimental and subversive had unexpected and paradoxical encounters. Both the music industry and the art system tends to falsify, and therefore deactivate, the most awkward musical trends and artistic tendencies, turning any youthful revolt into consumer culture - including all the contradictions this gives rise to as well.
As a counterpoint to the video-installations exhibited in the galleries and the programs featuring music videos linked to the recording industry, two screening programs will accompany the exhibition "This is Not a Love Song" includes a selection of video art by contemporary artists who have appropriated the aesthetics of the music video and have deconstructed it since the 1980s. This sort of "anti-music videos" defy the audiovisual stereotypes promoted by television channels like MTV to generate devices for reflecting and/or projecting political, social and cultural messages.
The "Video Killed the Radio Star" screening program takes its title from the first music video that was broadcasted on MTV in 1980, which is by The Buggles. The program features music videos directed by artists from the ‘60s to today, the era before MTV, the beginning of MTV and the golden age of music videos from 1981 to 1984, videos that focus on gender in the ‘80s, music videos directed by auteur directors and the sensational videos of our time.
The exhibition does not avoid these contradictions. Instead, it suggests that the relationship between music and the visual arts force us to reconsider another history of art in which musicians and artists can position themselves either as actors in the hegemonic cultural system or as critical agents capable of producing small forms of resistance.