In Unusual Move, Top Collector Julia Stoschek Makes Essential Video Art Available for Free Online

Alex Greenberger


May 18, 2020 11:54am

Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Büsi, 2001.COURTESY THE ARTISTS

Few collectors have placed as great an emphasis on moving-image art as Julia Stoschek, who, since opening her private museum in 2002 in Dusseldorf, Germany, has amassed more than 850 works that include many of the most important films, videos, and digital works of the past half-century. With most of the art world moving online because of coronavirus closures, the German collector has taken some of her holdings digital, too.

Sixty works from Stoschek’s collection have now been made available for free on the website for her museum, which currently has locations in Dusseldorf and Berlin—and there are plans to upload more works in the months to come as well. Alongside them will be a complete catalogue of the 860 works owned by Stoschek, as well as introductions by the collector to some of the videos on offer. The move is a major one, as such access to films and videos held by collectors is rare.

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“From the very beginning, film and video were driven by a democratic impulse and ideas of circulation that were supposed to enable access to art on a wider scale,” Stoschek told ARTnews in an email. “I am following in this spirit. My decision is also rooted in the medium itself, which is theoretically infinitely reproducible and therefore undermines the notion of the unique work of art.”

Included in the first batch of newly available works are jewels of recent film and art history. There’s Cao Fei’s RMB City – A Second Life City Planning by China Tracy (2007), which documents a digital project documenting a computer-generated country driven by capitalism in excess, and there’s Jon Rafman’s Mainsqueeze (2014), which is constructed entirely from appropriated footage found online and considers how the internet has fundamentally altered desires. But there are deeper cuts as well, as such as lesser-known works by the queer experimental cinema pioneer Barbara Hammer and videos by Wolfgang Tillmans, who is more often recognized for his photography.

Last week, Stoschek, who has ranked on ARTnews’s Top 200 Collectors list each year since 2012, made headlines when it was reported that she would close her Berlin art space amid rising real estate costs in the city. She told ARTnews that her collection’s move online wasn’t a response to this, repeating that the closure wasn’t definite, and added the digital initiative had been planned for a while, before the coronavirus pandemic began.

Could seeing works by John Bock, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Elizabeth Price, and others online detract from seeing them within the confines of the Stoschek’s museum? The collector said yes—but added that viewing filmed works on the internet has its advantages, since viewers could potentially stop the videos and return to them at any point, or skip ahead as necessary. “I’m not worried that presenting the works online will take away from the physical experience,” she said. “Instead, it adds another layer.”


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