Borna Sammak Opens Video Exhibition in Best Buy, New Yorkers Annoyed

by Karen Archey on October 9, 2009 · 20 comments Events

POST BY KAREN ARCHEY
Karen Archey, Borna Sammak, Kari Altmann, Best Buy, Thomas McDonnell, Art Fag City
Best Buy customer retrieving his motorbike next to Borna Sammak’s title piece

I can only imagine what the handful of potential Best Buy customers were thinking when they happened upon Borna Sammak‘s video installation at the retailer’s SoHo location last night. Perhaps, “Only in New York City do I try to buy a High Def TV and I walk into a fucking art opening!” Sammak’s installation primarily takes place in Best Buy’s lower level “Home Entertainment” floor, subsuming every TV monitor available. Made specifically for HD equipment, the intensely optical video-paintings drew a packed store, allowing little room for visitors to browse around the installation, let alone shop. The artist worked with curator Thomas McDonnell who conceived of locating Sammak’s work in Best Buy.

Producing endless works with a distinct retinal aesthetic, Sammak processes footage taken from nature documentaries such as Planet Earth–the sort of programming usually seen on Best Buy’s monitors. McDonnell even thought to utilize the store’s Surround Sound demonstration unit. Upon pressing it’s “demo” button, the viewer is greeted with a wave of sound corresponding to Sammak’s videos.

Karen Archey, Borna Sammak, Kari Altmann, Best Buy, Thomas McDonnell, Art Fag City
Installation view at Best Buy, photo AFC

McDonnell comments in an interview on Art in America between himself, artist Kari Altmann and Sammak that Best Buy ranks among one of the only locations carrying enough high-definition AV equipment to exhibit Sammak’s video series. Museums would even be stretched to facilitate the work. Although this location obviously comes with some conceptual ramifications — it’s hard to tell to what degree the artist and retailer’s relationship is hostile or symbiotic — the installation was successful in utilizing the space inventively not to mention drawing a sizable art world crowd.  Speaking to the latter, AFC intern Matthew Wells Gaffney overheard a cake-carrying sorority girl outside the store, “Like wow, is Best Buy the new hot spot or something?” We asked ourselves the same question.

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Installation view of Borna Sammak’s Best Buy. Video AFC

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

magda sawon October 9, 2009 at 9:33 pm

The show was fantastic (smart spectacular compelling and unique) – and congrats need to go to both Borna and Thomas. But I frankly think your commment about idiot non-art new yorkers is problematic to say the least. I spent time there and did not notice anybody annoyed/upset. This kind of “insular superiority” thinking is exactly what makes art folks dissed in larger contexts..

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magda sawon October 9, 2009 at 5:33 pm

The show was fantastic (smart spectacular compelling and unique) – and congrats need to go to both Borna and Thomas. But I frankly think your commment about idiot non-art new yorkers is problematic to say the least. I spent time there and did not notice anybody annoyed/upset. This kind of “insular superiority” thinking is exactly what makes art folks dissed in larger contexts..

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Jon Williams October 9, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Are you calling Karen a liar?

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Jon Williams October 9, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Are you calling Karen a liar?

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Karen Archey October 9, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Hi Magda —

Thanks for your comment. It seems to be overlooked that there’s a certain amount of humor to that post, rather than “insular superiority.” Admittedly I made a bit of a cliche joke about New Yorkers being annoyed with an art show in a technology retail store–this was NOT, however, meant to bifurcate those at the store into a “superior art world” group and “idiotic non-art New Yorkers” group. In fact, I would be completely annoyed if I showed up at Best Buy (or anywhere else) trying to purchase something in a quick, convenient manner with a group of 100 sweaty art kids in my way. This was also part of the exhibition’s charm–Sammak really tried something new, and the support he received from the new media community proved it successful in at least one regard.

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Karen Archey October 9, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Hi Magda —

Thanks for your comment. It seems to be overlooked that there’s a certain amount of humor to that post, rather than “insular superiority.” Admittedly I made a bit of a cliche joke about New Yorkers being annoyed with an art show in a technology retail store–this was NOT, however, meant to bifurcate those at the store into a “superior art world” group and “idiotic non-art New Yorkers” group. In fact, I would be completely annoyed if I showed up at Best Buy (or anywhere else) trying to purchase something in a quick, convenient manner with a group of 100 sweaty art kids in my way. This was also part of the exhibition’s charm–Sammak really tried something new, and the support he received from the new media community proved it successful in at least one regard.

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L.M. October 9, 2009 at 11:23 pm

A nice straight forward solution to that big equipment supply problem. (As if I needed another reason to love Borna Sammak’s stuff.)

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L.M. October 9, 2009 at 7:23 pm

A nice straight forward solution to that big equipment supply problem. (As if I needed another reason to love Borna Sammak’s stuff.)

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magda sawon October 9, 2009 at 11:48 pm

karen, point taken. my thinking is credit needs to go to Best Buy people too – as this clearly was not a flash mob clandestine event -and it should go to the folks that stumbled onto it and took it in stride and positive curiosity. cheers, magda

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magda sawon October 9, 2009 at 7:48 pm

karen, point taken. my thinking is credit needs to go to Best Buy people too – as this clearly was not a flash mob clandestine event -and it should go to the folks that stumbled onto it and took it in stride and positive curiosity. cheers, magda

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daniel October 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm

dig it!

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daniel October 10, 2009 at 8:50 am

dig it!

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Sean Capone October 10, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Magda– where exactly in the post did Karen use the word “idiot” or “insular”? These words only appear for the first time in your post.

The review was incredibly positive while noting the obvious disparate and potentially conflicting framework of placing art in a consumer, non-art space environment. As a video artist I’ve often imagined how interesting and confrontational it would be to take over a store like this.

Karen, why do you have to keep defending yourself against this type of response, I wonder..?

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Sean Capone October 10, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Magda– where exactly in the post did Karen use the word “idiot” or “insular”? These words only appear for the first time in your post.

The review was incredibly positive while noting the obvious disparate and potentially conflicting framework of placing art in a consumer, non-art space environment. As a video artist I’ve often imagined how interesting and confrontational it would be to take over a store like this.

Karen, why do you have to keep defending yourself against this type of response, I wonder..?

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Some Painter October 11, 2009 at 7:16 pm

To Sean @4:47

The title of the review alone is negative and leaves the impression that the general public doesn’t like this type of installation, so I don’t know how you can say it was “incredibly positive.”

Although somewhat jokey, Karen saying “Only in New York City do I try to buy a High Def TV and I walk into a fucking art opening!” gives the impression it did not go over that well with the average Joe.

Stop taking Magda’s comment personally. She has a point.

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Some Painter October 11, 2009 at 3:16 pm

To Sean @4:47

The title of the review alone is negative and leaves the impression that the general public doesn’t like this type of installation, so I don’t know how you can say it was “incredibly positive.”

Although somewhat jokey, Karen saying “Only in New York City do I try to buy a High Def TV and I walk into a fucking art opening!” gives the impression it did not go over that well with the average Joe.

Stop taking Magda’s comment personally. She has a point.

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clafleche October 12, 2009 at 12:34 am

Uh, who cares? Let’s talk about the work.

It was really fantastic and the installation was far more imaginative than anything I’ve seen in Chelsea in probably the past year.

Congrats again Borna

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clafleche October 11, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Uh, who cares? Let’s talk about the work.

It was really fantastic and the installation was far more imaginative than anything I’ve seen in Chelsea in probably the past year.

Congrats again Borna

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Samson White March 23, 2010 at 2:39 am

In case you hadn’t noticed, the AFC bloggers often resort to Gawker-worthy snark that they probably get partially from reading Gawker, and partially as they are conditioned by circumstances. They also don’t take well to criticism if it steps outside the defensive bastions they have built around *their* understanding of what good art is, what good values are, who New York consists of… but don’t fret, there are only a couple thousand regular readers of this thing, most of whom operate as myopically as the insiders (or outsiders) they’re constantly, if subtly, belittling.

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Samson White March 22, 2010 at 10:39 pm

In case you hadn’t noticed, the AFC bloggers often resort to Gawker-worthy snark that they probably get partially from reading Gawker, and partially as they are conditioned by circumstances. They also don’t take well to criticism if it steps outside the defensive bastions they have built around *their* understanding of what good art is, what good values are, who New York consists of… but don’t fret, there are only a couple thousand regular readers of this thing, most of whom operate as myopically as the insiders (or outsiders) they’re constantly, if subtly, belittling.

Reply

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