Expensive Video Art


The television monitors in galleries and museums serve for the production of art works, not for watching the television program. It seems absurd to have to explain that to anyone save perhaps children, especially since video art is entering into its fifth decade of existence. That is, however, precisely the kind of incredible incomprehension the Croatian Association of Artists (HDLU) came up against when Croatian Radiotelevision Subscriptions Office zealots paid them a visit with the intent of collecting television subscription for each of the CAA’s seventeen televisions!

This latest CRT blunder could be used as a perfect script model for a Monthy Pythonesque satire. Upon hearing the news a few days ago, we were skeptical regarding its credibility, as it’s hard to believe that it would cross even the CRT’s diligent subscription hunter’s minds to collect tribute on televisions which are used solely for art purposes. However, the CAA confirmed that that is precisely what happened.

Irena Letica, the CAA secretary, says she was flabbergasted when the CRT inspection board knocked on the door and demanded they pay a fine for past usage of the television sets, and proceed to pay a subscription per every television they have. She asked them if they were aware where they had come, and proceeded to explain to them that the televisions in question are used exclusively for exhibiting art works, but alas, the CRT were adamant in their claim that the CAA should have registered them and that they are obliged to pay television subscription on them. aa

The CAA’s 17 television sets and plasma TVs are used in four CAA gallery halls and are frequently borrowed by other gallery halls and by members of the association for their exhibits. Irena Letica states that the CAA wouldn’t be able to bear the expense of the subscription fee for all those television sets and that they would be forced to sell them in that case. Fortunately, the CAA managed to find their feet quickly enough and outwitted the CRT by blocking the receiving signals so they were unable to receive TV signals along with obtaining a certificate from the TV-service which blocked it for them and sent it to the CRT. Since then nobody has contacted them so they gather that the problem is solved.

The Museum of Contemporary Art also has monitors in its set-up where video art is projected. One of them is Siniša Labrović’s “Family News”, placed at the very beginning of the permanent set-up, in which Labrović’s family is watching the main Croatian Radiotelevision News Programme in Sinj, thus they could be an ideal candidate for paying subscription to the CRT. However, we were informed by the MoCA that the CRT’s inspection board hasn’t as yet paid them a visit such as the one they paid to the CAA.

*Nam June Paik,                                                             *Nam June Paik,  Piano Piece  1993.