(Pro-) Active Archives: NIMk – Sandra Fauconnier

Posted: November 14, 2010 at 10:28 am  |  By: morgancurrie  |  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Preservation, artlab, research, collection.. all rolled up into one: the Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk). Starting in 1978, NIMk collects and preserves media art and electronic products, in addition to operating as a distributor to generate revenue for artists who work with new technologies.

Sandra Fauconnier pinpoints one of the unique selling-points of the NIMk. The institute engages in very close contact with most of the artists they work with and that makes all the difference. Furthermore, she states how she prefers to use the term “collection” instead of “archive”. The latter triggers the notion of documentation, when it is the notion of “autonomous artworks” encompassed in the first that defines the NIMk to a great extent.

More than 2000 works (video art, installations, net art and so on) and 500 artists. Primarily artists from the Netherlands or those who have an affiliation with Dutch art and culture. NIMk actively distributes the artworks and royalties are split in a surprising 30-70.

NIMk plays the part of mediator between the public and the artist. Fauconnier and her co-workers try to merge the various interests together. Her presentation at Ecommons is thus subdivided into two parts: She starts off by addressing the various perspectives that artists hold concerning availibility and shareability. Afterwards, she elaborates on what she believes are the interests of the public.

Fauconnier explains how certain artists are closed-minded when it comes to publishing their art online. Of course, NIMk is committed to protecting the artistic rights of all who work together with the institute. However, they also feel it is in the best interests of the artist to be as visible as possible. Marina Abramovic is an artist who does not wish to have her work available on the NIMk website in full length. Semiconductor, on the other hand, is an artist group, who are very much interested in the possibilites of promoting their art over the Internet. As is Oliver Laric, who dares to experiment with authorship models. He believes each artist can borrow or curate from one another. And the NIMk offers these types of artists a platform to do so and is therefore very much intrigued by the issue of re-appropriation of pop culture. What are the vast possibilities? What are the implications?

The NIMk website shows art in its documented form, as a part of the catalogue. You would have to visit an exhibition to see all or more about the artwork in question. However, the website also presents art in its original form (for instance, video art). Fauconnier mentions that there is a slight increase among artists in their realization that no harm can really come from making artworks available and shareable. An important factor herein is the expanding sources of income for the artists: professional presentations, events/performances, grants and residencies, teaching and workshops, and of course sales (based on exclusivity, not abundance). NIMk tries to help out in any way that they can. Still, Fauconnier noticies a decrease in the role of the middlemen. Firstly, overall, there is less money to spend on art. Secondly, artists are beginning to explore new ways of promoting their work via Internet. Thirdly, institutions and buyers are increasingly contacting the artists themselves, directly.

So, what is the public interested in? Fauconnier starts off by saying that there is definitely no such thing as “the” public. However, she can list two ubiquitous needs and wishes of today’s audiences: They want art online/accessible and they want to find it all in one place. This argument leads Fauconnier to question the value of remixing. Is it really what the public wants? There have be long-term discussions on its pro’s and con’s, but are audiences interested in re-using or re-appropriating art? In fact, it might only be 5% of that public. So, why turn the act of remixing into a core issue?

Fauconnier closes her talk by listing the NIMk’s unique selling-points/perspectives. The list illustraties how all stakeholders and connaisseurs must play their part when it comes down to input and selection (“tagging for all”). Such an open archive can only be based on a good deal of participation.

  • We want to show work in a high quality context. We want to showcase artworks and not to see them in amateur surroundings such as YouTube.
  • We respect and accommodate a wide variety of artists’ positions.
  • We stimulate the debate on online availability of artworks.
  • We provide platforms for artists who hold an experimental, open attitude.

Written by Lisa van Pappelendam