1 – 29 October 2021
30 September 6 – 8pm
ILEANA is delighted to announce the presentation of ‘Stansfield/Hooykaas – Flying Time’ this October. Originally recorded in Australia in 1982 when the artists were invited to participate in the 4th Biennale of Sydney, Vision in Disbelief, it is the only work they made in Australia yet it has never been exhibited here (although another version is in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada).
As a transitional work within the artists’ oeuvre, Flying Time was Stansfield/Hooykaas’ first video in colour, adding significance to the chromatic richness of the imagery. The work cleverly juxtaposes notions of natural time against the recorded systems of human timekeeping, emphasising the medium’s temporal dimension that distinguishes it from traditional art forms.
STANSFIELD / HOOYKAAS
Flying Time, 1982
single-channel audio-video installation and 12 c-prints, mounted on cardboard
video: 8 min 11 sec.
c-prints: 50 by 60 cm.
The Stansfield / Hooykaas Foundation
State University of Limburg, Maastricht, April 1982
Gallery Stampa, Art Basel, June 1982
The Hague, World Video Festival, September 1982
Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht, October 1982
Museum Fodor, Amsterdam, Dutch Directions, 1982
Gallery AK, Frankfurt, January 1983
Festival de Nouveau Cinema, Montreal, November 1983
London Video Arts, London, Video and Landscape, 1983
The Kitchen, New York, Recent British Video, 1983
We can see the waterside on the beach; waves of clear water are rippling back and forth over the sand. A motionless woman casts a blue shadow: only her hair is moving. A woman’s voice monotonously recites time distances and time differences, each time between two places on the route from Amsterdam to Sydney. Meanwhile, the image of the shoreline is gradually shifting towards the ever deeper and darker water.
The images of the rolling water surface alternate with calm underwater images of fish, a turtle and a shark. The sound goes underwater too.
On the ‘way back’ from Sydney to Amsterdam, the camera slowly travels back to the shore. The image ends once again with the woman’s shadow on the beach. This work plays with time and tide – time in what is being told, tide in
the images. The image of the female figure (only represented in the form of a shadow) is ambivalent: time and again, it is washed over by the waves, but when the water recedes, it is still intact on the beach. A shadow, normally speaking a fleeting thing, here proves itself equal to the strong natural force of the sea.
The date of Elsa Stansfield and Madelon Hooykaas’ earliest video work (1975) positions them amongst the pioneering generation of artists who explored the possibilities of a medium that until then had no place in art history. Both artists were trained in photography and film (mediums that were only reluctantly recognised by the art world) which makes installations such as Flying Time particularly intriguing as it captures two experimental mediums in their early stages.
Unsurprisingly, they exhibited several times at The Kitchen in New York, the avant-garde space for new media art that also showcased other pioneering artists such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Brian Eno, John Cage, Robert Mapplethorpe, Vito Acconci and Nam June Paik. The fact that Flying Time was exhibited there in 1983 emphasises its key place in the history of video and installation art. Crucially, Flying Time was the artists’ first video work in colour, and as such holds a central position in the oeuvre of Stansfield/Hooykaas. This adds further significance to the chromatic richness of the piece, in which the figure’s shadow is full of blue and purple undertone that contrast with the rays of sunlight reflected in the water.
But not only was the nature of video, photography, and installation art radical in its own right, video that referenced itself, rather than presenting an external narrative, was a completely new phenomenon. From that perspective, the subject of time in this work is particularly relevant: video, more than any other medium, is temporal. Stansfield and Hooykaas play with this on several levels in Flying Time.
Most obvious, there is the intriguing juxtaposition of the natural time of the tide as it is captured visually against the recorded time of human timekeeping, which is narrated. This duality is mirrored in the sumptuous audio-visual experience of a beach scene, conjuring up memories of exotic holiday destinations, set against the matter-of-fact recital of times and places that are of a more bureacratic nature.
What becomes particularly evident is the contrast between the experienced time as it passes second-by-second in the video versus the abstracted time that is recounted by the narrator. The latter makes huge jumps between timezones and geographies, whereas the former is rooted in a specific time and place. This also links to the influence of conceptual art in the 1970s, in which artists addressed systems of representation and their relation to lived experience.
The trajectory described in Flying Time is also a fascinating document of time in a broader sense: namely that of increasing air travel in the globalising world of the 1980s (although evidently long-haul flights were not yet a reality, and planes still had to stop five times on the way from Amsterdam to Sydney). In that regard it is also worth noting the route in Europe, with stops in Rome and Athens – clearly reflecting the significant migrant communities of Italian and Greek descent in Australia.
Flying Time, was produced during the artist’s stay in Australia in 1982, when they had been invited to participate in the 4th Biennale of Sydney, Vision in Disbelief. Alongside other pivotal artists including Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno, Joan Jonas, Tony Oursler, Martha Rosler and Bill Viola, they represented the developments in new media at the biennale.,
Selected Stansfield/Hooykaas works in institutional collections
“[Stansfield/Hooykaas] might be called the younger breed of the first generation video artists to start exhibiting their work in the 1970s and whose work has had an influential affect in Britain and in Europe and which in turn has helped to define the expanded area of video installation.”
Elsa Stansfield and Madelon Hooykaas are early European video art pioneers, who collaboratively worked from London and Amsterdam at a time when collaborations, video art and female artists were all underrepresented in the art world. Despite these challenges, their work has been collected by the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Collection, London; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, amongst others. They have participated in countless exhibitions, including the Documenta in Kassel (1987) and the Biennale of Sydney (1982).
Stansfield/Hooykaas worked in mediums that were at the time hardly understood, and in Madelon Hooykaas’ words, “barely accepted in the art world” (in fact, the artists had their work broadcast on national television before it was even considered suitable for a museum).
However, after the artists gained a critical amount of recognition towards the late 1970s, the following decade saw their works exhibited in the world’s most prestigious institutions: the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Documenta 8 in Kassel, the Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel, and the Biennale of Sydney in 1982.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired work by the artists as early as 1984, attesting to their prominence in the emerging video art scene. More recently, early works have been acquired by the Tate Collection in London, the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp, and the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht.
Selected solo exhibitions
2010 Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow
2010 Street Level Photography Gallery, Glasgow
2010 Museum GoudA, Gouda
2010 De KetelFactory , Schiedam
2005 Goethe Institute, Montreal
2000 Hafnarborg Museum, Hafnarfjordur, Iceland
1996 Redpath Museum, Montreal
1994 Gemeentemuseum, Arnhem
1990 Lenbachhaus, Munich
1989 Museum of Modern Art, New York
1986 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
1981 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
1980 The Kitchen, New York
1977 De Appel, Amsterdam
1976 Whitechapel Gallery, London
Selected group exhibitions
2009 Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
2008 Biennale of Contemporary Art, Nîmes
2005 Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai
2003 Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
2003 Tate Gallery, London
1997 Museum of Women in Arts, Washington
1993 Museum of Modern Art, Taipei
1992 Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
1991 Tate Gallery, Liverpool
1987 Documenta 8, Kassel
1986 Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna
1986 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
1985 Gemeentemuseum, The Hague
1984 Museum of Modern Art, New York
1984 Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel
1984 Kunstverein, Hamburg
1982 Biennale of Sydney
1979 Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam
Selected public collections
Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol
Arts Council of Great Britain, London Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht
Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow Gemeentemuseum, Arnhem
Kunsthalle zu Kiel
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Neuer Berliner Kunstverein
Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich
Städtische Kunstmuseum, Bonn
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Tate Collection, London