Jaime Davidovich (1936-2016) was an Argentine-American visual artist and a pioneer in the use of television as an artistic medium. Harnessing the emergence of cable TV in the 1970s as a broadcasting tool that bypassed the conventional gallery system, Davidovich helped catalyze a revolution in how art was disseminated. Television provided the perfect vehicle for “get[ting] out of the claustrophobic traditional art world,” Davidovich told the New York Times in 1979.
As an active participant of the SoHo-based experimental art scene of the 1970s and 1980s, Davidovich produced a variety of conceptually-driven Video Works, and established himself as a public-access television producer. His engagement with cable television as an artistic medium culminated with the creation in 1979 of the The Live! Show a weekly variety program that parodied conventional television norms. It featured avant-garde performances, political satire, and social commentary, with guests ranging from Laurie Anderson to John Cage.
Prior to expanding the uses of video as art, Davidovich created a series of Monochrome Paintings. In these works, he left subtle traces of composition within the midst a uniform color plane. When displaying them in a gallery, he removed their frames and affixed them directly to the wall with tape.
It was his use of tape, Davidovich said, that gave rise to his groundbreaking work with video. As he stated in an interview with the Joan Mitchell Foundation in 2016: “for me videotape was similar to packing tape..., the reel, going on and on, the sense of time… I got involved in video because of the tape.”
An adhesive tape gradually came to replace paint in his work altogether, best demonstrated in his Tape Projects. These works are several monochromatic packing tape interventions on photographs, walls, public sidewalks, and within museum spaces, including the staircase of the Whitney Biennial in 1973. The placement of these tape works altered the recognition of everyday structures, prompting reflection on the architectural support, textures, and formal vagueness of daily life.
In 2013, Davidovich was selected by the Joan Mitchell Foundation as a recipient for the Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) initiative, designed to create comprehensive documentation of an artist's life-work by providing support in the areas of studio organization, archiving, and inventory management.
Throughout his career, he participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and his work is part of the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in the United States, as well as the Museo Reina Sofia, and the Museu D’art Contemporani de Barcelona in Spain, among others.