Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 1#4 Jans Possel 1 Apr 1987

235 video

At the beginning of this year the new video catalogue of 235 (pronounced dreiundzwanzig fünf) appeared. 235 is an agency, or rather a business firm in Cologne, which for a number of years has been engaged in all kinds of activities in the field of audio and video. 235 is distributor, publisher, adviser, organizer, as well as hardware leasing company. It all began with the sale of LP'S and music tapes which can conveniently be classified as experimental, but currently the range has been expanded to include music and art videos.


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The new catalogue provides a survey of the range of art videos offered by 235. In the shiny black ring binder of simple design (interior format 21/21 cm), the video tapes are arranged in alphabetical order under the name of the artist or group of artists. The left side of the page gives information about the tape in German and English, followed by a short description of the contents, and a code showing whether the video is for hire or for sale, and/or whether it can be shown on TV. Most tapes have all three possibilities. The right side of the page is reserved for a photograph and the initial of the artist whose work is presented. Everything is designed in black and white.

A total of 65 video tapes by some 45 artists from 10 different countries, and 13 compilations of different tapes are on offer. The majority of the tapes is from Germany or the United States. The tapes are very recent (eighties) and very varied. Famous names rub shoulders with unknown names, 'real' art videos and registrations of performances, scratch video and tapes that are related to music or literature. The aim was not to provide a collection with a well-defined image of its own. This may be due to the fact that 235 has not yet been offering video tapes for a long time. Of most artists only one tape is available. To mention only a few: CODE PUBLIC, BRUCE NAUMAN, MONIKA FUNKE STERN, NORBERT MEISSNER, WONDER PRODUCTS, ULRIKE ROSENBACH.

Publications by EDITON KüMMEL; cassettes in cloth binding containing documentation about activities of artists such as CHRISTO and JOSEPH BEUYS, and a wooden cassette with a concert by JOHN CAGE in Cologne. The KLAUS PETER SCHNüTTGER-WEBS MUSEUM (a project of BETTINA GRUBER, ULRICH TILLMANN and MARIA VEDDER) has published a portfolio in an edition of 20 copies about the important and varied work of K.P. SCHNüTTGER-WEBS, the famous avant-garde artist, works of whom are still being discovered. All this in honor of the festive opening of the museum in Cologne on September 6, 1986, coinciding with the opening of the LUDWIG MUSEUM. Unfortunately, the museum had to close its doors the next day already, because the costs ran too high. The portfolio contains, among other things, a video tape with a report of the opening festivities.

The compilations offer scratch video from England, lyrical poetry (i.e. poems transformed into image language) and 10 issues of a magazine for video art.

Video Congress

lnfermental may be the first magazine on video, but it is not the only one. During Documenta VII in 1982, Video Congress was founded, a cooperation of a number of German video artists, including a few cooperators of 235. They decided to produce a video art magazine, a videonale, with as its main object: to be entertaining. In their own words: the videonale must make clear statements as regards content, as well as avoid boredom. (A dig at lnfermental?) One of the ways to meet that demand was the requirement that the tapes shown in the issue must not be longer than 3-8 minutes.

The first issues of Video Congress contain only German contributions. When in 1985 the urge to transcend the national borderlines had become acute, the magazine was given an international image. Each issue is based on a theme which is determined by the participating artists. The selected tapes must be related to this theme in one way or the other. The average duration of the German editions is 45 minutes. The international editions are longer (about 100 minutes). Each issue is supplemented by a booklet containing photographs and information about the various tapes.

Video Congress differs from Infermental in that it bears a closer resemblance to a magazine. It appears more often, it has a fixed editorial board, is shorter, and its set-up is more commercial. The purchase of an issue of Video Congress is relatively cheap. The two most recent issues, Metasprache and Reisebekanntschaft, were 140 and 100 DM respectively on VHS.

Infermental appears once a year, deals with several themes, has a duration of an average 4-6 hours, and each time has a different editorial board in a different country. From the start it was set up on an international basis. Infermental wants to provide inspiration as well as information, for artists as well as the general public. It is not a distributor, but an intermediary, and its object is not to sell, but to achieve a circulation of videos as wide as possible throughout the world.

As regards content, the two magazines do not seem to differ a great deal. In both magazines, works are grouped around a theme, and both magazines want to make clear statements. Video Congress/, however, places more emphasis on entertainment and general accessibility, while Infermental asks its editorial board to reveal a mental context in the work submitted and its presentation.

Financial problems have temporarily put a stop to the issue of Video Congress. In contrast to Infermental, Video Congress is paid from its own means. The profit from sales and rent are shared in terms of percentage among the contributing artists, or are used to finance productions. As soon as conditions allow it, a new issue will appear.

If you'd like to quote something: Possel, Jans. "235 video." Mediamatic Magazine vol. 1 # 4 (1987).

Translation: Fokke Sluiter