Award-Winning Video Art
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Award-Winning Video Art

Samuel Lecocq won the 2017 Credit Suisse Förderpreis Videokunst competition in February, allowing him to present his work "A FUTURISTIC (MOVIE) SET-UP" in a solo exhibition at Kunstmuseum@PROGR through March 23. Credit Suisse also presented the nine best works from the competition at Museumsnacht Bern.

This lineup is impressive, but merely a part of the attention, visibility, and future opportunities that winning the Credit Suisse Förderpreis Videokunst brings to the artist and his work. We wanted to learn more from Samuel Lecocq about his film and what this award means to the 24-year-old artist. We also asked jury chair Kathleen Bühler what she thinks the significance of this award is.

Mr. Lecocq, what does winning this award mean to you and for your work?

Samuel Lecocq: I am very happy to receive this award. It's a wonderful opportunity that gives me an incredible chance to pursue my projects. Having more of a photography practice, this prize is a very encouraging sign to continue my video work.

And from the perspective of the jury: Why did the jury decide on this video piece? What was the key factor in choosing this video?

Kathleen Bühler: The jury was particularly impressed by the intense video montage, evocative of the nexus between the enthusiasm for technology in the 1980s and its resonance in Russia and France. In eight short minutes, Lecocq traces an arc from the "Futuroscope" science fiction park built by Denis Laming in Poitiers after 1980 through to the fictitious interview with a Russian student, who describes her encounter with it. This is followed by historical film sequences around the monument, in whose foundation stone a "profession of belief" in the great future of mankind was encased in cement. The film ends with the anticipated, as it were, archeology of this erstwhile monument to the future: Its two most important buildings appear as fragments of a failed "Futuropolis," as perfect white computer animations on an inaccessible island in a troubled ocean.

How would you describe the key message of your film "A FUTURISTIC (MOVIE) SET-UP?"

SL: This film pulls together many of my reflections about images. Their ability to trap, to bear witness, to be falsified. It also gave me the opportunity to reclaim and redirect certain cinematic codes of science fiction. And to try to show the complexity of futuristic discourse.

Mr. Lecocq, you tapped into a wide variety of stylistic devices and imagery in your video. What was particularly important to you, both in terms of content and technique?

SL: I wanted to tell a story that, despite being fragmentary, would allow the audience to understand the issues that interested me. So, I put a lot of time into the construction of the narrative and its rhythm in the editing. From a technical standpoint, the various registers of images (super 8, HD, 3D-modeled, and archive images) were particularly important to play with the different temporality.

This time the jury's shortlist consisted of nine film contributions from a wide variety of directions. How difficult is it for the expert panel to agree on a favorite?

KB: Basically, our assessment is made irrespective of the direction; rather, we seek to evaluate the atmospheric density, artistic quality, and aesthetic risk appetite of the various works. The fact that we had more videos on the shortlist this year means that we didn't have any real favorites beforehand; rather, all nine of them were more or less equally strong. We then start a meticulous process of evaluation, in which we defend our own favorites and argue their case. The better arguments win. It took slightly longer this year due to the large number of contributions – in previous years, there were just six.

Trailer for "A FUTURISTIC (MOVIE) SET-UP"

Samuel Lecocq

What is it that actually makes the winning video so outstanding?

KB: Its unique mix of utopia, documentary, and animation. But also its mix of fiction and document, of faith in and skepticism about technology.

Mr. Lecocq, what inspired the theme of this film?

SL: I cannot remember exactly what sparked my interest in Futuroscope. What is certain is that I had a fantasized vision of it, probably stemming from my frustration from not having gone there when I was a child. Confronting this distorted image with the reality of it inspired me to investigate its fictional potential.

And what are you going to do with the CHF 10,000 prize?

SL: I am going to use a portion of the money to make my next film already in development, particularly by investing in equipment.

Do you already know what your next goals are for your artistic career?

SL: First, to finish my Master's degree in Visual Arts, and then to apply for artistic residencies in France and Europe.

Ms. Bühler, what are the longer-term aims of the jury?

KB: Each time the competition is held we seek to look at things afresh and take an unbiased view of the works. We evaluate the mastery of technique, knowledge of art history, topicality of the issues, stylistic originality of the approach taken, etc. We're always hoping to be surprised. Admittedly, that's difficult given the composition of the jury – though not impossible.

Are there any findings of relevance to the future of the prize?

KB: We can see that certain schools have a signature approach. But that's only natural, because the students are influenced by their teachers. Yet, again and again, we find imaginative artistic positions that stand out.

What developments are in evidence?

KB: It's impossible to say in general terms. What I personally find encouraging is the frequency with which we find very touching works that dare to address social or political issues.

The series of videos from the Credit Suisse Förderpreis Videokunst, which are now in the Kunstmuseum Bern's collection, has grown to seven: six of the videos are from prizewinners, while one was purchased by the Kunstmuseum. How would you describe the series from a curator's perspective?

KB: It's a credible representation of Swiss video art over the last six years. The fact is, almost all of these former winners have since been shown in institutional exhibitions in Switzerland.