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Video Art in Times Square

  • Location:
    New York

The FREE SCREENING of the WINNING VIDEOS in the Metropolis Art Prize 2009 will take place in TIMES SQUARE, New York from 7 to 8pm on December 17.
Where: Times Square at Duffy Square, 47th and Broadway adjacent to TKTS Booth.
Screens featuring the art videos include Fox News Corp (43rd St. and Broadway), MTV (Broadway between 46th and 47th Sts.) and Clear Channel / CNN (47th St. and 7th Ave).

Babelgum, the independent web and mobile video content platform, today announces the winners of its latest effort to showcase new emerging art stars, the Babelgum Metropolis Art Prize chaired by iconic art-house actress and video artist Isabella Rossellini.

Launched in September 2009, the contest attracted over 400 videos representing the work of the best and edgiest artists on six continents, competing for three main prizes worth a total of $30,000. The winning videos, two runner-ups in each category and two Special Mentions entries will be screened at a free public event in New York’s Times Square on December 17 at 7 pm hosted by head judge Isabella Rossellini, which will also include a screening of her latest short film co-directed by Guy Maddin, “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair.”

The Babelgum Metropolis Grand Prize ($20,000) went to Denver, Colorado-based artist Christopher Coleman for “The Magnitude of the Continental Divide.” An animation exploring the way we define ourselves and our nations, the piece deals with various states of withdrawal and aggression. It is a think-piece on the state of modern warfare, where weapons and damage are dealt impersonally from afar.

A 2003 MFA graduate of New York State University in Buffalo, Coleman is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Denver. The artist was twice a participant in the VIPER Basel Festival in Switzerland and has had his work in exhibitions in many countries including Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, China, the UK and Latvia. His winning entry can be viewed at www.babelgum.com/4003543/the-magnitude-the-continental-divides.html.

Jacopo Ceccarelli aka 2501 a Milan born artist now dividing his time between Italy, Berlin and Sao Paulo, Brazil, earned The Babelgum Metropolis Best Street Art Award ($5,000) for his work, “Mask”. The dreamlike piece is an evocative excursion into Brazil’s dark colonial past through a night time examination of statuary and monuments in Brazil’s busiest metropolis. Sao Paulo. His winning piece was influenced by his move to Sao Paulo at age 20, when his approach to painting evolved after contact with major names in the South American graffiti school. Since 2004, Ceccarelli’s work has been featured in 13 solo and groups shows including “Muralismo Morte” at Motorhalle in Dresden (2009), “TEC 2008” at Berlin’s MYMO Gallery and “Urban Edge Show at Esposizione Collettiva in Milan (2006). Entry at www.babelgum.com/4005837/mask.html

The New York City-based collective, Improv Everywhere, was the top vote of web-site visitors and grand prize winner of The Babelgum Metropolis Audience Award ($5,000) for “Subway Yearbook Photos.” In the piece, the troupe of actors and artists installed a photography studio on a random subway car, claiming that the MTA had hired them to take photos of every single person who rides the subway to produce a high school-styled yearbook at the end of the year. The resulting photos and video demonstrate the diversity and range of emotions expressed by New York City subway riders. Founded in August 2001, Improv Everywhere’s mission is to “cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places.” The group has executed over 100 missions involving tens of thousands of undercover agents. Entry at http://www.babelgum.com/4005313/subway-yearbook-photos-map-winner.html

“I was very pleased to play this role in launching the first Babelgum Metropolis Art Prize, to the arts community and a worldwide community that was reached via the web,” states Isabella Rossellini. “None of the other art competitions that I know of have the ability of publicizing art globally and the explicit mission to establish a firm link between art and video. I've been doing art films my entire life, but it wasn't until I released Green Porno earlier this year that I realized the power of online media to draw audiences to original work. The Metropolis Art Prize will give artists all over the world the kind of worldwide audience and exposure they so richly deserve.

“The quality, passion and political viewpoints of the entries was very exciting, especially our winners,” continues Rossellini. “I really look forward to seeing the reaction of the worldwide audience that will be present at the December 17 screening in Times Square.”

“The Metropolis Art Prize has been a wonderful platform to engage our worldwide audience of art and culture-lovers, “states Laurence Billiet, publisher, Babelgum Metropolis. “Showcasing these edge-pushing videos by emerging artist perfectly complements our existing programming slate, which provide the newest and best in art, street art, urban culture and documentaries.”

The entries were judged by an illustrious panel including Lee Wells, the Curator-at-Large for the SCOPE Art Fair and Co-founding Director of the video art archive Perpetual Art Machine, Cedar Lewisohn, Curator of the Tate Modern gallery’s groundbreaking Street Art exhibition (2008) and Howard Halle, chief art critic for Time Out New York and former curator of Performance Art at The Kitchen.

“Coleman’s winning piece is digital graffiti that plays into the graphic style of socio-political concepts of 21st Century style street graffiti, almost animated aerosol if you will,” states contest judge Lee Wells of the Metropolis Grand Prize Award winner. “All of his work is impressive and this work suits the digital screen medium better than any other of the 450 plus entries.”

“I was impressed with the quality of all the entries, so choosing a winner was very tough,” adds judge Cedar Lewisohn. “The works I selected were ones that can have a genuine visual or political effect when shown on the screen in Times Square. I love the idea of giving individuals who are effectively anti-advertising one of the world’s most famous public advertising venues to play with.”

“The opportunity The Metropolis Art Prize afforded video artists was further evidence that the audience for art is not only growing, but also expanding beyond conventional venues like museums and galleries,” adds judge Howard Halle. “In thinking about the entries, I tried to keep in mind that audience, and what would work in a non-traditional context like Times Square: What would be successful on that scale, and still be immediately identifiable as "art." It was a fantastic challenge, and I'm very pleased with the selections made."

Contest runner-ups whose videos will also be shown at the December 17 event include: Metropolis Grand Prize Runner-Up: Hye Yeon Nam, Atlanta, USA - “Wonderland”; Sjors Vervoort, Amsterdam, Netherlands - “Cardboard”; Street Art Runner-Up: Jason Eppink, New York, USA - “Pixelator;” Jeorge Simas, Sao Paulo, Brazil - “Suspended Gardens of Babylon”; Audience Award Runner-Up: Davide Pepe, Brindisi, Italy - “Last Kodachrome 40 for a Nizo S800” and “Simple Future Present;” Special Mention: Bruno Levy, New York, USA - “Modeselektor” and Peter Vadocz, Hungary - “Colourful EU”.

The winners and other contest entrants and art notables will then fete the artists at an event at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in Chelsea open to the public.