Argentinian artist Jaime Davidovich moved to a New York teeming with ideas, conversations and possibilities during the 1960s and seventies, when it was gritty, dangerous and artists could afford a building in SoHo. Whereas Gordon Matta-Clark, Donald Judd and the Judson Dance Theater give the period its experimental flavor, Davidovich’s pioneering efforts in artist-run public television never received recognition like abstract video artists Stan Brackhage or Paul Sharits.
Guest-curated by Daniel Quiles, Davidovich’s first Chicago solo exhibition at Threewalls offers a small but quality introduction. Investigations in monochrome painting and tape installation, like his 1970/2015 wall piece “Yellow Tape,” look and feel like conceptual contemporaries Vito Acconci or Robert Heinecken. Extending his interest in tape from Scotch to video led Davidovich to his most experimental and interesting work—artist-run public-television programming—which is represented at Threewalls through a curated film program rotated biweekly throughout the six-week exhibition. With flamboyant character and charmingly accented English, Davidovich shines in playful video programs like the thirty-minute cable television “Live! Show” he conducted under the pseudonym Dr. Videovich. Alternatingly Dada and slapstick humor do not mask the brilliance of employing television to transgress the gallery’s white-wall boundaries and reach a broad American audience directly. In the 1982 “Live! Show” episode “QUBE,” Davidovich and his peppy American co-host Carol Stevenson invited at-home viewers to call in and direct the camera through the phone. When one caller created optic feedback by having the camera zoom into an on-set television, Davidovich exclaimed with enthusiasm that the caller had in fact become a video artist.
Inescapably the immediacy of Davidovich’s television programs is mediated and dated in a time-capsule presentation at Threewalls. However a screen loops Davidovich’s vintage programming with contemporary, Chicago-based artist television programming made by ACRE-TV (also available online), to demonstrate the continuing legacy of artist-run television and its expanding possibilities through online platforms. (Anastasia Karpova Tinari)
Through March 21 at Threewalls, 119 North Peoria.