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ikonoTV - Stream and broadcast 24/7 art videos, documentaries, and entertainment films to all your TV or mobile screens
ikonoTV is a global media platform that aggregates videos and films from art, architecture, and design community.

Every content and playlist is curated in-house making ikonoTV an art hub thanks to its extensive collaboration with other actors of the art community. It includes interviews, documentaries, video art and video dance, from old masters to contemporary.

The goal of ikonoTV is to make art as accessible as music.
Founded by Elizabeth Markevitch, ikonoTV is a unique VOD art streaming platform. It is a hub aggregating films from video artists, museums, galleries, filmmakers, and in-house productions giving audience access to a vast library. We were able to talk to Elizabeth and ask her a few questions.

- When asked who are you, how do you answer?
- I would answer that I am fundamentally driven by this core idea that I wanted to answer to this question of why art is not as popular as music. For 25 years and even more when I was working at Sotheby's and so on I started to do things like this to open up the doors and to make everybody experience what Sotheby's could have to offer. And for 25 years, I'm doing that by diving into the digital world 100%. I never did traditional e-commerce. I was always trying to find different ways of bringing a new experience through digital. Recently, I decided that I could even call myself "an artivist". Because if we look at the definition of what an activist is, you read in the Collins Dictionary that an activist is a person who works to bring about political or social changes by campaigning in public or working for an organization. So, yes, I work for an organization which is ikonoTV. I'm campaigning in public through the platform. And yes, we're bringing art into the social change issues, as I am convinced both work hand in hand without nobody noticing it.
- How was ikonoTV created? Tell us a little about how this journey went from idea to implementation.
- So as I said everything I do is driven by this idea how can I bring art and make it as popular as music? Basically, I did compare both the music world and the art world. And the only thing we can really compare between the two of them is the real, true experience. The experience where you're physically in a room, you're in a concert room, or you're in a museum room. And this experience is the ultimate experience. Nobody can replace it. But what music did from day one is that as soon as the radio was invented, it dives into it distributing the maximum of music to a maximum of people. It still does, from there there's been a business being built on it, which is the record labels. They did bring even more visibility, and they bring a complementary income with the royalties by licensing their rights. And then today you have the streaming platforms such as Spotify, which is mixing both, but it's still with the same aim, distributing a maximum of music to a maximum of people. Now, if you try to do the comparison with the art world, you go from the museum experience, as we said, the best one, but then you go where?

To the gallery. And from this gallery, you're basically selling one work to one person, and that's it. Even in the world of NFTs, where art is saying, let's open up digital, go into the digital world, they're still keeping the same business model of selling one work to one person. So I don't know. At the very beginning is in fact the equivalent of radio.

Because I built up a linear TV channel. And this TV channel was distributed through satellites in Europe with Astra. In the Arab world. With Arabsat. We stayed until 2018-19 for almost ten years. Which was an amazing experience because people were discovering us by chance on their TV set by just stepping. And this is where I thought, okay, radio and TV, have something in common, which is the zapping. You zap around, you look around and suddenly you don't know why you stop at a specific channel. For radio, it's because suddenly you hear a voice or you hear music, whatever stops you. For us, people zapping around and discovering us. For example, in the Emirates, they were going from CNN to ikonoTV. So this is a huge difference in terms of aesthetics, in terms of speed, in terms of noise. And of course, we've been noticed like this and that the magic of TV still is dipping around. So that was the beginning of using traditional broadcasting means. And then slowly I build up a platform, a streaming platform. And the streaming platform is what ikonoTV is today. We even did change the interface during the lockdowns to make it look like any streaming platform for people not get lost in their user experience, so that they recognize immediately how it works and therefore they can focus on the content. And this is the other way that we have been also trying our best not to cover any of the thumbs, the image that we were adding, to cover them with words for people to focus on the quality and the meaning of the image and to be attracted by an image and then say wow, I like this, what is that! And they dive into it. So that's how it started and what it is today, which is a VOD platform streaming only, art-related, but also architectural and design-related content.
- How much have you and your ideas changed since ikonoTV started?
- When we were broadcasting content on a linear channel, we were not having any documentaries and there were no interviews. It was a silent channel where we were mixing video art, which is a wonderful form of art because video art is a work of art done with a camera. It's not an interview and it's not a documentary. It's really like a painter using a canvas and a paintbrush. A video artist used a camera and editing because editing is essential in good video art. And this has been always a work that fascinates me and it still does.

But in parallel, I didn't want to focus only on contemporary art because every contemporary art finds its origin in an old master. It has always, every artist has a favorite old master. Her work. He or she did dive into it and did drink everything of this artist, digested it. And I've been influencing the work. And so to show this, I did refuse from day one, and I still do, to go into a museum and film what I see in an exhibition. Because for me, this is the true experience. And this true experience should remain only a true experience.

But we took there is a statistic which says that people do not look at a work of art when they are in an exhibition for more than 5 seconds. My idea is that they don't look at it for more than 5 seconds because they just don't know how to look at it. And they don't see that they are full of details that the artist is trying to show us. And that for discovering these details, we need time. And time is essential in every art. Whatever art is, you're reading a book, you read it too quickly, and you're going to miss things. If you are speeding up music, you're going to miss things. So art, any art, needs time. And so we took the idea of taking one painting at a time and instead of hearing and listening, an art historian telling us the story, telling us, to look at the upper right corner, go down, and zoom in. The story is being told to the cameraman. And the cameraman tried to translate the story by just going into the details with a camera. Zooming out.
But there is real storytelling which becomes visual storytelling. And when a film is well done that somebody watches it, they can do an analogy, they can see the metaphor, they can come up with a story that is maybe not the original story, but it is a story. And it's the story that talks to the person to the viewer. It's the story that touches, whether it's positive or not, touches well or touches badly a person. But it talks to the person and the person can then say this works talks to me because of course knowledge always helps. Of course, knowledge also helps to understand better the work. You put it in the context because you know exactly what are the influences and you're going to learn so much more and discover the different layers that maybe you haven't seen with your own experience. But then this knowledge is going to be completely bound to your experience and then you will remember it all your life.

And what is really interesting with these films that we've been doing is that because we didn't add any music and any comments, you're looking at these works with your heart, with your emotions, with your emotional grain, as we have two brains and we're not interfering with the intellectual aspect of it. And this is the core of all our work. All these years we did produce over 2500 of these short films. And yes, the way it's developing today is that it's going to become our business. We were looking for a way to make a business out of all this. And this is going to be our licensing, it's going to be a little bit of the record label business. We're going to license our films, and build them up into a playlist that we will install on a dedicated screen. And this dedicated screen, we're going to start putting it in waiting rooms of hospitals. Why? Because we've discovered during the lockdowns and with some tests, that while people are anxious or stressed or both are watching our films, their level of cortisol drops instantly, minimum, apparently 60%.

So it means that we put people in a state of calmness, of more serenity, and that therefore they can then have their meeting with the doctor and face what the doctor is about to tell them, whether it's good or bad and a more relaxed and not to be totally tense. And this is for me a wonderful development to see that all our work, which was originally done for Mr. Everybody who has never been in a museum to bring a first art experience exactly like radio, brings us a first music experience. Suddenly we see that the same film can have other ways, other means and of course, this is wonderful.
- The ikonoTV platform features channels that seem to reflect topics that matter to you - ecology, politics, and slow art. Is it so?
- So I guess I can't avoid the fact that as it's I can always be founded by me. Of course, I influence it, whether I like it or not. I try to be as open as possible by saying that the most important thing for me is quality. But yes, I have been looking at different types of content which are all art related, because as I said before, art for me is everywhere. And because it's everywhere, we can show it in different topics like ecology or politics. And on the platform, you see these channels. The channels are in fact each channel for most of them belong, so to say, to an institution or to an artist, and they become their private territory. And it's like a channel on YouTube with this great advantage that once you're finished with that channel, you're still on ikonoTV and you can discover other interesting topics as Icon on TV is 100% art related. So you're not lost like you could be lost on a big channel like YouTube.

So, yes, ecology is something that is really close to my heart for many years but decades, and it's of course becoming a topic even more important nowadays because I really see all these artists who are doing so much to express this topic in their way by different works, whatever the works are installations, photography, and video art, and of course, politics. For example, in May there was a video from Zelensky which I was really so surprised to hear coming from a leader, from not only a country, but a country in war, where he was literally calling artists, saying artists, we need you, artists, we need you to help. Changing the storytelling and having a leader, a political leader, asking for artists. It is so rare because in history we saw in the past that, for example, the artist was always a threat to a lot of politicians, where these politicians were more extreme, right, and even more fascist. Take Mussolini, take Hitler, take Stalin, take Lenin, take all these extreme politicians. They did declare some artists as forbidden. They were not because the true meaning of an artist is his or her freedom of speech. An artist cannot be a true artist if you impose a framework. So of course. For some leaders, it can be scary because the artist has no problem saying their opinion and therefore hearing a politician like Zelensky saying calling artists. Saying please come and help. We need your voice. We need your work. We need you to help interpret. Give another interpretation of what's going on right now that I could not put this on. I don't know. Because it's everything about what we do is to show this freedom.

To show this freedom of speech. So, yes, the channels are an open space where we invite different types of content providers, whatever their institutions like I said, or NGOs or publishers or whoever produce films because in this case, we do not produce for them. They come up with their own products and they build up their own channel, so it's really building up their YouTube. But we focus on quality. Therefore we knock at the door of these people. So, yeah, that's answer number four.
- As a rule, each crisis gives points of development, how do you think the pandemic and the war in Europe can turn out for the arts?
- First, I will add to all these problems climate change, and environmental issues, because somehow everything is linked. But yes, turnout for the arts. I think it's just another fantastic opportunity for the arts to show up, to help, to open our eyes, and to bring a different point of view. We can look at them on the positive side because they forced us to slow down and to think and hopefully to react differently. And when artists interfere in that, they help us, hopefully, to go quicker in what we should be doing. That's my short answer to this question.
- Share how did you assemble your team? What achievements are you proud of?
- I think I will say that I'm proud of everything which has been done and it has been done thanks to the team. I, of course, during all these years, have had different types of teams, and different types of people. But what was really common to all of them was being part of a very international team coming literally from everywhere in every part of the globe.

Today I have people. I have Ukrainians, Iranians, Russians, French, German, Italian, and Bulgarian people working from Ecuador, UK, and America. So it's fantastic. The way I choose the team is that I want them to come here not to do a job, but to fulfill a passion.

So they come here because they have something to bring to ikonoTV. Their skills can make us grow and grow nicely and be seen in a better way. So I tend to choose real people who take ikonoTV as their kind of own company and that they are engaged. Because I'm not a manager, I've never been good at that and I prefer to have people with whom I can have wonderful talks and not have the feeling that I'm telling them what to do. So that has been done. I'm super proud of what has been done until now. We still have a lot to be done. There are more ideas to come. We are planning to start next year with two-minute daily news, which is really something close to my heart, which is how to explain the news through the lenses of art. So it's going to be a very special way of digesting the news and to use artists as kind of the candid at the table, showing us things from a completely different angle. But we're also diving into a new way of using VR as a story and not using VR necessarily as a minutes game, but as something which once again, like everything we do, talks to our heart and talks to our emotions and maybe tells us also stories from a different way. So, yes, as you can see, there are things to be proud of, and there are things to be looking forward to being proud also about.
- Please tell us about ART SPEAKS OUT, why this is important?
- The name Art Speaks Out, the title was created in 2015 when COP21 was going to happen six months later in Paris. I discovered then that probably because it was in Paris, the city of beautiful museums and beautiful art, there were within the team of COP in Paris curators looking for encouraging the art world to produce performances, happenings, but also that the museums came up with exhibitions on the topic. Of course, all of them were wonderful, there is no doubt, but they were all in Paris. So I knocked at the door of the COP21 team saying we would like to be associated with what you're doing and we will stream a special program during the COP. And so this was a fantastic opportunity to come up with asking artists, contemporary artists, and specifically the video artist. As we show only video, we ask the video artist, could you produce a work that has something to do with your interpretation, your understanding of what ecology and climate crisis are about? And so we created a kind of first, I would say internal Open Call within the contacts we had. Then we did open it up and we came up with a list of, I think over 60 artists and built up a huge playlist. In 2015, we were still broadcasting on satellites. So we did show it on the satellites and we did show it, of course, online. And we had a lot of success, a lot of press. It was a big surprise because we were not expecting so much press. And in terms of viewership, we had over a million viewers.
It's only now, this year that I thought, okay, let's take this idea again. And I guess it's because of the last report from the IPCC, which made me think, okay, we really have to be part of it. We have to make everything around us show that everything is about ecology and that we have to support this. And therefore I wanted to, which was the original idea. But I have the feeling that it's even more important today because since COP21, yes, it was a success because it was a Paris agreement and there was a fantastic consensus from all the countries taking part as they all signed the Paris Agreement, which was to say, let's keep the temperature below one five degrees before 2050. The problem. And that seven years later, I don't think we even started. There's not one country that started to think, how are we going to do this? We're still completely in our fossil fuel energy. The war ranks now in Europe show us even more that instead of taking an opportunity. So to say we are now trying to find out where we can buy oil somewhere else. Where we are opening all the charcoal and so on and so forth. Instead of taking this 1 billion daily euromoney spent every day from the european countries to put it into research and development. To push other energies. Lithium and batteries are not the solutions. So we really have to push the research and other things.

But I think what really is urgent and that's the main thing we have to focus on is the storytelling. Because I believe that if our leaders and most of these companies, what we call capitalistic, just don't care, they just want to fill up their pockets with more money, money that they will never be able to spend anyhow. How can we change, in fact, the scientist and the activist storytelling? To change the storytelling, the way we receive the storytelling in a completely different way, we need to bring sensibility to the stories. We need to touch our emotions because if we don't touch the emotion of anybody, this person is not acting. And there is more and more research right now being done on why our brain doesn't react and doesn't take seriously a case if you didn't go through it, meaning we would need to go through a flood or to go through all these dramas that some part in more and more parts of the world are experiencing to change our mind. This is just ridiculous. And this is why I think artists can help because they can simulate things in an artistic way, in a touching way. And this is why, for me, what we're doing today, by starting again, this Open Call under the program Art Speaks Out is important.
So, we did this Open Call and collected over 2300 applications. We had to filter them, of course, which has been a lot of work, but we discovered some true gems that we're all putting together This will be seen from the 6th of November to the 18th, on our website, on our Apps for Mobiles, on our Apps for Smart TVs. And there will be a few screens at the COP27 itself where we will share kind of highlights. On the 10th of November, I'm invited to share what we are doing at the COP27 itself while they are giving me the opportunity to share our work.