Collector Julia Stoschek Offers Free Online Archive of Video and Digital Art

James Ardis
Published on
Screenshot from the video project Double Strength by Barbara Hammer.
Screenshot from the video project Double Strength by Barbara Hammer.

Numerous pieces from digital art collector Julia Stoschek’s archive are now available for free through the Julia Stoschek Collection website. Offerings include experimental video and digital projects from the 1960s to the present.

This online transition was planned before the COVID-19 pandemic began, with an initial publicized release date of fall 2019. Given the unforeseen circumstances of 2020, the freely-accessible archive could fill a void in the international art community.

Among the highlights of the collection is Barbara Hammer’s 1978 video project Double Strength. The project documents Hammer’s relationship with trapeze artist and choreographer Terry Sendgraff. Viewers should be aware that the work is graphic and does not shy away from sexuality.

Screenshot from the video project Double Strength by Barbara Hammer.
Screenshot from the video project Double Strength by Barbara Hammer.

Double Strength shows the trajectory of a developing relationship from early flirtations to lust to the disagreements and arguing of a long-term partnership. “You develop a much richer and deeper and profounder and more interesting relationship than you can ever have from a succession of relationships,” the video’s narrators theorize, “where you’re always more or less starting in the same place and ending when the important things begin.”

Viewers can also watch Christian Jankowski’s short film Hollywoodschnee (2004). In the project, several professionals in the film industry describe the ideal movie scene. Jankowski shoots these scenes in a documentary-esque style and later adds elements from other genres such as action or horror to emphasize the power movies have to shift tone and meaning.

In one scene, film producer Alfred Holighaus pulls his car into an old shipyard. The producer’s location seems unusual, but Jankowski directs it as a normal part of a daily routine. “Well, God, you’re wrong,” says Holighaus once he emerges from his car. “In the beginning was not the word, but the image. One sees before one reads.” As Holighaus makes this declaration, he is seen shot in the chest. He continues speaking, but the viewer’s eye is drawn to the growing bloodstain, a reminder of imagery’s power over words.

Screenshot from the video project Hollywoodschnee by Christian Jankowski
Screenshot from the video project Hollywoodschnee by Christian Jankowski

One final project viewers can consider watching is Cao Fei’s RMB City, a video made with help from the popular life simulation game Second Life. The customization options of Second Life allow Fei to distort distinctly Chinese images. This includes a drumset bouncing on a Chinese flag, Tiananmen Square appearing half underwater, and a picture of a panda replacing Chairman Mao in the square.

Screenshot from the video project RMB City by Cao Fei.
Screenshot from the video project RMB City by Cao Fei.

Julia Stoschek believes this free online initiative not only helps people connect with art during the pandemic but also better fulfills the original goal of many of these digital works. “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. “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.”

Several news outlets, including Artsy and ARTnews, mention that the Stoschek online archive is a continuing project with no end date to report. These sources also verify that more works are planned for the archive going forward. Auction Daily will follow this story as it develops.