How to sell video art?

A large majority of young artists today choose video as their medium. Yet video works are difficult to sell, exhibit and restore.

Last Monday, the first meeting of CIPAC, the federation of contemporary art professionals, took place. I visited their website on this occasion and noticed that among the proposed reflections there was one entitled “acquiring, digitizing, conserving and restoring works of audiovisual art”.

I have often wondered about the future of video art, apart from the screens, tablets, and other technological installations that serve as supports for them in exhibitions. I remember last year visiting a place in Pantin dedicated to young creation, and one of the organizers explained to me the great difficulty of video artists to sell their works, let’s say even greater difficulty because selling everything for a young artist is extremely complicated. Moreover, among the artists exhibited in the gallery, the one who had sold the most was a painter on glass, not very representative of the choices of young artists today who choose the medium of painting very little.

So how do you sell a video work? Institutions buy them, we see them in museums, for example two exhibitions largely dedicated to video at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris have just been completed, that of Clément Cogitore and in a completely different genre that of Mikka Rottenberg. But private collectors are turning their backs on the medium. Then why? In Contemporary Art Fairs, videos are often poorly installed, few collectors take the time to watch them in their entirety. It should be noted, however, that more and more places are now dedicating a specific space to video art, as is the case of the Art Basel Miami fair. Moreover, a video work is often very expensive: it requires a lot of time to create and elaborate. Mikka Rottenberg, for example, showed videos at the Palais de Tokyo of a pearl oyster farm in China for which she travelled and spent a lot of time there. Second, because video is easily reproducible, easily disseminated, and this goes against the idea that one would own a unique work at home. And also because his exhibition in a private circle is a real question: do we buy specific material? You turn your screen on and off on the way in and out of the house? Finally, the last problem is that of the conservation of videos, which are fragile media. I was told this story of a couple of Parisian collectors who hire students every year to do this work of renewing and restoring files: calling the galleries, asking for new DVDs etc.

Not simple for a video artist, even though video is everywhere in contemporary art. So some people are going to see experimental cinema or even cinema in general, such as Clément Cogitore, for example. By strategy perhaps.