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At home with Deborah Irmas--collector, curator and art advisor

Deborah Irmas 

collector, curator and art advisor 

How it is to live with an immersive digital artwork?

ArtPlay: I remember you former apt, when you got off the elevator you immediately were confronted by this incredible digital artwork that completely engulfed you in the beautiful light in the entry space. 

DI: It was a trip, people got off the elevator and thought - where am I? Visitors would often just stand there - like, What’s gong on here? 

The video set them up so when they stepped into the rest of the apartment, they began to see that art was all around them but I think the video set them up to have an aesthetic moment in someone’s house which was different than going into a museum or gallery space. You become part of the color play, the image and the space around you. It sets the tone for the evening. 

The artist who Inspired the immersive installation was a video art work by Ann Veronica Janssens, called SCRUB (2006).  Anna is well known well in Europe and the US. She makes time based works that often installed in unexpected places; she take the outside and brings it inside or uses light to enhance a space. They are very playful and beautiful, you think of beautiful abstract painting like Joseph Albers or colorfield painting, turns it up 20 times by making it about pure light and color. 

Ann Veronica Janssens, SCRUB (2006)

ArtPlay: As an advisor, what do you tell new clients who are just starting to collect art?

DI: I like to encourage them to have some time based art, or kinetic art or some neon artworks -  to activate the space. 

Its lovely to have drawings and paintings but that’s very 20th century. Even that those works come out of the 20th c., something to enliven a space is important.

I love painting, ceramics, print making and photography and video art, it’s all one thing. Each one has a direct way of expressing something significant. 

ArtPlay: We were talking the other day about how working with new collectors who are interested in video and time based art can be challenging because people become a little overwhelmed with the tech.

DI: I think younger people don’t have that issue because they are so tech savvy and it’s second nature to them.

Someone like me would prefer not to deal with this. I want to just turn on the monitor and click away, and my collection is there to watch. And don’t have to worry if the technology changes and know that my content will be able to be viewed on any device in the future. That is why ArtPlay is so great for me. If I buy something, I just send it to ArtPlay. They put it in the cloud archive and the next day I am watching my stuff. 

Frame enlargement from Screen Test ST79, Marcel Duchamp, 1966. 16mm film, b&w, silent; 3.8min. Copyright by The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved.

ArtPlay: What would you buy next if you could? 

DI: I saw a show recently of Jeff Koons and Marcel Duchamp. I didn’t think I was going to like it but I loved it. They were comparing both artists. Then in the corner there was an Andy Warhol portrait of Marcel Duchamp.

ArtPlay: Was it a poloriad portrait? 

DI: No, it was a film portrait that Warhol had made of Duchamp. It was wonderful, I loved to have a wall of Warhol's film portraits. 


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