'Colección documental Between the Frames 1983-1993: Grabaciones originales - Entrevistas íntegras  ...', 1983-1993

Colección documental Between the Frames 1983-1993: Grabaciones originales - Entrevistas íntegras 1983 – 1993

Colección MACBA. Centro de Estudios y Documentación

Between 1983 and 1993, Antoni Muntadas (Barcelona, 1942) interviewed 156 professionals from the art world and then edited the more than 200 ensuing hours of video footage into eight chapters of varying durations. These went on to form part of the installation Between the Frames: The Forum (Barcelona), 1983-1993 (2011), which is now owned by the MACBA Collection. In 2009, as part of its digital preservation programme, the MACBA Study Centre arrived at an agreement with the artist to digitalise these interviews. With the collaboration of The Standby Program, the original recordings were transferred from VHS NTSC to DigiBeta (PAL) at the MercerMedia laboratory in New York, and then became part of the MACBA Library, which makes them available for public consultation individually or as a whole.

Between the Frames was motivated by the desire to offer a vision of the art system in the eighties. Specifically, the project was triggered by the artist’s experience at a 1983 exhibition at California’s Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA) entitled Comments, which included a work by Muntadas. “I heard how the museum ’educators’ explained the work I presented, La televisión (1980), and their interpretation surprised me. In the United States, ‘educators’ are, generally speaking, well-meaning guides and enthusiasts who play an important role at museums. This experience led me to think in a ‘micro’ way about what happens between art, the artist and the audience,” Muntadas explains.

This reflection led the artist to embark on a long series of interviews with numerous prominent figures from the international art circuit: dealers, gallery owners, collectors, curators, museum guides, art critics and the media, that is, the whole gamut of mediators between the artwork and the audience. He also interviewed some artists as a kind of “epilogue” to the work.

Muntadas then edited excerpts of these interviews into eight video chapters, each devoted to a different profession within the art world. The result was Between the Frames: The Forum, a video project that was originally conceived in the form of a panopticon and first presented at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (United States). In this installation, seven cells, each equipped with a screen showing one of the chapters, were arranged around a central space. Since then, the project has been shown in various formats: with the chapters split up into different rooms and offices at the CAPC, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, and in other arrangements at art centres in Europe and the United States, organised by a banker, a philosopher, a historian and a sociologist. In 2010, the MACBA Foundation acquired the work in its original incarnation (the panopticon), adapted to its exhibition space.

The many interviewees include important figures such as Achille Bonito-Oliva, Maria Lluïsa Borràs, Benjamin Buchloh, Leo Castelli, María Corral, Daniel Giralt-Miracle, Marian Goodman, Román Gubern, Kasper König, Lucy Lippard, Catherine Millet, Pierre Restany, Harald Szeemann, as well as the artists who appear in the epilogue – John Baldessari, Joseph Beuys, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Krzystof Wodiczko and Jaume Xifra, amongst others. The structure of the interviews is consistent throughout, with the camera remaining on the interviewee the entire time, although the soundtrack includes the questions that Muntadas asks, generally following a pre-defined script.

Through these interviews and the video installation that came out of them, Muntadas sought to dissect the complex system that weaves together art, politics and the economy. “In the eighties, the art system was undergoing transformation. In the art world there are, on one hand, the artists’ work and everything that surrounds the production of the work and, on the other, the system, which forms the environment for mediation: dissemination, sale, collection, distribution, everything that affects the subsequent visibility of the project. The eighties represent a very specific period when some of these intermediaries had excessive power and achieved exaggerated visibility. That is why I wanted to understand how such a situation had come about;” he explains.

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