Video art

The latest Venice Biennale is ideologically and aesthetically bankrupt 

Last week’s opening of the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale marks a watershed for the art world. In much of the festival’s gigantic central exhibition, curated by the Brazilian museum director Adriano Pedrosa, as well as in many of the dozens of independently organised national pavilions and countless collateral events, it more obviously than ever before didn’t so much matter what was on show, but why. The politics of visibility and representation has been eating away at the arts for at least a decade, most recently under the banner of ‘decolonisation’. The now nearly complete abdication of aesthetic criteria in favour of a decolonial organising principle is here finally

What’s an art form that feels unpopular and pointless, but isn’t?

How did the universe begin? Did the great god Bumba vomit us up, as the Kuba believe? Or did we emerge, as the Navajo think, from a cloud of coloured mist? Or do we listen to the ancient Egyptians who thought the curtain opened on a giant cobra slithering across the oceans? Perhaps it starts with a computer screen: Milky Way wallpaper, a folder labelled ‘History_Of_Universe’ and a sharp intake of breath. That’s how one of the great video artworks of the 21st century begins anyway. This summer New York’s Museum of Modern Art uploaded Camille Henrot’s ‘Grosse Fatigue’ (2013) to its YouTube channel. It gives you the birth of

A high-end car-boot sale of the unconscious: Colnaghi’s Dreamsongs reviewed

In 1772 the 15-year-old Mozart wrote a one-act opera set, like The Magic Flute, in a dream world. Il sogno di Scipione was based on an account in Cicero’s Republic of a dream experienced by the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus while serving in North Africa in 148 BC. In the dream the younger Scipio is visited by his adoptive grandfather Scipio Africanus, who foretells his destruction of Carthage, dishes out advice on dealing with populist politics and shows him ‘the stars such as we have never seen them from this earth’. Scipio’s is a recurring dream: it inspired Dante’s vision of Heaven and Hell and it returns to haunt us

Slight: Steve McQueen at Tate Modern reviewed

Steve McQueen’s ‘Static’ (2009) impresses through its sheer directness — and it’s very far from static. A succession of helicopter-tracking shots around the Statue of Liberty, it’s the first film you encounter in this quasi-retrospective from the Turner Prize-winning conceptual artist-turned-Oscar-winning film director. Shot shortly after the monument reopened after the 9/11 attacks, it offers the eye an exhilarating whirl of light and colour, while the mind — given the potency of that historical context — goes on an equally dizzying train of associations through the notion of American liberty. While you bring these associations yourself, they seem to emanate naturally and directly from what you’re seeing. It’s that essential