Tuesday Night 03.25.03 — Art & Ethics: A Discussion with Luis Camnitzer

Comments Off on Tuesday Night 03.25.03 — Art & Ethics: A Discussion with Luis Camnitzer

Tuesday Night 03.25.03 — Art & Ethics: A Discussion with Luis Camnitzer
1. About this Tuesday
2. About Luis Camnitzer
3. Links to Projects/Texts
4. “Manifesto” (1982)
5. Text for Discussion (“Form and Content”) PDF

From the Uruguayan Torture, 1983
please note:
There will be no Monday Night event
this week. Instead we will be hosting
two discussions, one on Tuesday, with
special guest Luis Camnitzer and the
other on Friday (more details available
on our website).
Also, in preparation for the discussion,
we ask all participants to download Luis’s
text from our website.
1. About this Tuesday
when: Tuesday at 7:00 pm
where: 16 beaver street, 5th floor
who: all are welcome
16 Beaver Group Art and Ethics: A Discussion with Luis Camnitzer As
springboard for this conversation is a recent text by artist Luis
Camnitzer, “The Form and the Content,” which he recently presented in a
panel discussion centering on art and ethics (ARCO, Madrid; February
In this text, Camnitzer focuses on a public address made by President Bush
while playing golf, where he remarked on his indignation in view of the
deaths caused by Palestinian suicide-bombers. Camnitzer analyzes this
instance as if it were an artwork, dissects its form and content, makes
that itself a quandary, and puts it back together to finally discuss art
and ethics.
2. About Luis Camnitzer
Luis Camnitzer was born in Germany in 1937 and immigrated to Uruguay in
1939. He has been living in the United States since 1964. He graduated in
sculpture from the School of Fine Arts, University of Uruguay where he
also studied architecture. He also studied sculpture and printmaking at
the Academy of Munich in Germany.
“Luis Camnitzer: Retrospective Exhibition, 1966-1990”
Curated by Jane Farver
The Lehman College Art Gallery, New York
(This link includes the texts published in the exhibition catalogue.)
“Uruguayan Torture”
The Alternative Museum, New York (1984)
“Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s -1980s”
The Queens Museum of Art (1999) Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1999);
Miami Art Museum (2000); MIT List Visual Arts Center (2001).
Artist’s Abbreviated Biography
Texts by Luis Camnitzer:
“Manifesto” (1982)
included, below)
“Access to the Mainstream” (1987)
“The Idea of the Moral Imperative in Contemporary Art” (1989)
“Letter from Porto Alegre. Mercosur” (1998)
4. “Manifesto” (1982)
“Manifesto” (1982)
by Luis Camnitzer
I presume to be a revolutionary artist, with a vision for the world and
with the mission of implementing it: to eradicate the exploitation of man
by man, to implement the equitable distribution of goods and tasks, to
achieve a free, just and classless society.
In order for my mission to succeed, I have to try to communicate with the
highest possible percentage of the public, something only possible with a
great amount of production and a good system of distribution for my
The production needed to reach the public who might be converted to my
ideas cannot be realized through a limited, craftsman approach. I need
means of production that are as efficient as possible and assistants who
can perform those tasks that do not require my creative effort, but can be
executed under my instructions.
Having limited funds to acquire equipment, I have to extend my ingenuity
to find good buys, to profit from errors by the sellers, to bargain to my
advantage; that is, to act with more intelligence than those who would
exploit me if I weren’t careful.
Having limited funds to employ assistants with the salaries they deserve,
I have to try to pay as little as possible, prolong working hours for the
same money, try to achieve a maximum of productivity with a minimum of
expense. If this operation should leave some money left over, it should be
invested in more equipment or in employing more people under the same
The biggest problem for the distribution of my work is competition. Other
artists, sharing as well as opposing my ideas, interfere with my potential
contact with the public. The public spends money on works that are not
mine, money that would be useful to improve and increase my means of
production, works that distract their attention from my revolutionary
aims. I have to be able to establish my work over those obstacles.
I cannot physically eliminate the artists competing with me, but I can try
to harm their image, spread rumors, create rifts between them and their
dealers, and generally, try to sabotage their distribution systems.
With some luck and some manipulation I can then add these distribution
networks to mine and ensure my preeminence in the public’s view. Thus I
will increase my sales which will allow me to acquire more and better
means of production. I will be able to consider gaining access to other
audiences, an international public.
The day when my revolutionary ideals will become a reality therefore could
be near.
He has been exhibiting his work, writing and lecturing on art since the
late sixties both in the United States, Europe and Latin America. Also,
together with Jane Farver, he organized the traveling exhibition Global
Conceptualisms. His work is in numerous private and public collections
including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of
Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of Art, New York; Museo de Arte Moderno,
Buenos Aires; Museo de Belles Arts, Caracas; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo,
Sao Paulo, Brazil; the Museum of Malmo, Sweden; and Yeshiva University,
New York.
5. Discussion (“Form and Content”) Text