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Introduction
1975
May

The Video Show, Serpentine Gallery, London.

The Video Show at London's Serpentine Gallery was Britain's first major international exhibition of video art. British artists showing at the exhibition included Ian Breakwell, David Critchley, Mike Dunford, David Hall, Susan Hiller, Tamara Krikorian, Mike Leggett, Paul Neagu, Lis Rhodes and Tony Sinden. However, the international nature of the exhibition is significant. Video had been making a far greater impact on avant-garde communities overseas, especially in the US, with the work of Nam June Paik. However, an interest soon emerged in Britain, leading to the establishment of a relatively small group of artists keen to adopt the medium, with Britain's first video-centred event most likely being the 24 hour 'Drama in a Wide Media Context' screening at London's Arts Lab in 1968. Al Rees splits later developments into three categories: The first, the 'video artists', concentrated on the works of those artists more interested in the medium-specific aspects of video. The second group, associated with the 'artists' video', adopted video more as a reaction to what they saw as its rejection at the time by much of Britain's avant-garde filmmaking circles, rather than as an 'unexplored primary medium'. The third category was made up of those artists more interested in using video for community-based work.

These early stirrings led to many further showcases and developments. The following year saw a second 'Video Show' - the first video installations exhibition at London's Tate gallery, as well as the commissioning of a Video Art Special for BBC's Arena series; a Studio International video special; and the founding of London Video Arts followed by regular screenings at AIR and Acme galleries in London. Simultaneously British video was being widely exhibited elsewhere in Britain, and internationally, from Coventry and Tyne and Wear to the Paris Biennale and Documenta Kassel

Russell Hedges

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The Video Show catalogue

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