Between allowing artist Marni Kotak to give birth in their gallery as a performance piece, to hosting a pop up show for Kevin Reuning’s art in the living room of a loft, Elle Burchill and Andrea Monti are anything but conventional gallerists. The two artists (who bonded over their interest in the moving image) shared a desire to merge the black box screening experience with the white-cube gallery setting. Consequently, Microscope Gallery was born in 2010.
Based in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the 2,000-square-foot space provides a sizeable platform for time-based artists to access the mainstream art world that they’ve historically been on the fringes of. Because digital and video art doesn’t sell as well, it’s often overlooked at commercial art fairs. Therefore, Burchill and Monti make an effort to exhibit in these spaces and not just at film festivals. Monti believes video art is having a revival, like it did in the '90s when projectors became more advanced; "It’s become its own language." Still, there are lots of questions surrounding the medium. Often collectors will ask how they purchase a video art piece or engage with it in their home. Burchill and Monti’s response is always the same: “It’s not that complicated.”
This year was the dealers’ third time exhibiting at NADA, where they have a solo booth of works by Zach Nader. Nader’s video piece trace shadow (2017) draws viewers into their booth, with mesmerizing shifting contours and inviting colors. Using the same tools to attract consumers as the very advertising companies he’s critiquing, trace shadow is comprised of over 100 layered ads, broken down frame by frame. Through an automated repetitive process, the image collapses in on itself to reveal what’s behind it. The piece is the artist’s response to feeling overwhelmed by the constant flow of images consumers are presented with. In this sense, Nader is “reclaiming the screen.”
Microscope Gallery consistently shows a range of avant-garde and emerging artists—working in an array of media from analog film and Super 8 to computer 3D animation. Despite their aesthtic differences, the common thread between all of the artists Microscope represents is that they each radically push the medium forward. By blurring the lines between experimental film, video art, new media, and digital art Burchill and Monti present this genre of art in a new light. The dealers love their space in Bushwick, Brooklyn because artists actually live there. Not that you needed another reason to visit the nighborhood, but the gallery hosts film screenings each week for $8. See you there.