08.08.2004

Tuesday Night 08.10.04 — Cesare Pietroiusti + Matthieu Laurette + Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev– MASS MoCA Series

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Tuesday Night 08.10.04 — Cesare Pietroiusti + Matthieu Laurette + Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev– MASS MoCA Series
1. About this Tuesday
2. About Carolyn, Cesare & Matthieu
3. Bourriaud Relational Aesthetics Glossary
4. Bourriaud / Simpson Interview
5. Links to related Brian Holmes texts
6. About the MASS MoCA Series
http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday
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1. About this Tuesday with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Cesare Pietroiusti
and Matthieu Laurette
What: Artist Presentations (Cesare & Matthieu) + Discussion (w/ Carolyn)
Who: Anyone interested is invited
When: 7.00 pm
Where: 16 Beaver Street (our 4th floor space)
This Tuesday Night, all are invited for short presentations by Rome based artist Cesare Pietoriusti and Paris based artist Matthieu Laurette. We are also pleased to have Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, chief curator at the Castello di Rivoli in Italy as our discussant.
If this Tuesday evening’s discussion was to have a title, we may call it “critical notes to relational art practices”. Taking off within the context of both the work of Pietroiusti and Laurette, we will examine some of the tendencies in artistic practice to enter the social realm. In addition to discussing the specific questions that are raised in each of their works, we will also take this evening as an opportunity within our Mass MoCA series to address specific questions that are raised by “Relational Aesthetics”.
There are some resource texts that we have linked below, consider it more like an appendix for the evening. The Bourriaud glossary and interview with Bennett Simpson as well as the two antidote texts by Brian Holmes.
As always, we imagine it will be quite an interesting evening, so we hope to see you there.
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2. About Carolyn, Cesare & Matthieu
Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev
Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is Chief Curator at the Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli, Italy. Before taking the post at Rivoli, Carolyn was Senior Curator at PS 1. Her most recent work has involved two retrospective exhibitions, one on the work of William Kentridge and another for Pierre Huyghe. She has also written numerous texts on contemporary art and art after WWII. She has edited a number of books including a volume put out by Phaidon Press in 1999 about Arte Povera, a monograph for the work of William Kentridge which accompanied his retrospective and most recently Cream also published by Phaidon in 2003.
Cesare Pietroiusti
Born in Rome in 1955, lives in Rome
Degree in Medicine with an essay on Psychiatry (1979)
Co-founder of the Artist-run space “Jartrakor” in Rome and of the magazine
“Rivista di Psicologia dell’Arte” (1979-1984)
Co-coordinator of the “Oreste” projects (1997-2000) (www.undo.net/oreste)
Co-founder of “Nomads & Residents”, New York, 2000 (www.nomadsresidents.org)
Coordinator of the artistic projects at the Clocktower, New York, 2000-2001
Coordinator of the Seminar “I solisti e la banda – Per una critica delle
pratiche artistiche condivise” (The soloists and the band. For a critique of
collective artistic practices), at the Fondazione Baruchello, Roma, 2003
(www.fondazionebaruchello.com)
Teacher at the Laboratorio delle Tecniche e delle Espressioni Artistiche,
IUAV University, Venice, 2004.(www.iuav.it)
Cesare Pietroiusti’s art practice focuses on  problematic and paradoxical
situations that are hidden in common relationships and in ordinary acts –
thoughts that come to mind without a reason, small worries, quasi-obsessions
that are usually considered too insignificant to become a matter of
discussion, or of self-representation. The artist explores choices and
intentions formulated by other subjects, and the ways in
which to make these choices become his own choices.
For the project Louisiana Museum, May 6 to 13, 1996 (Louisiana Museum,
Copenhagen 1996) the artist spent seven days closed in a gallery space of a
museum, and lived each day with the food and the things selected by another
person.
In 1994 Pietroiusti was available to do ‘useful’ things for anyone of the
audience who would make a request: he walked dogs, gave shots, cleaned out
cellars, and more. In 1997 he published Non-functional Thoughts (ed. Morra,
Naples), a small book containing approximately one hundred useless, parasite
or incongruous ideas to be realised as art projects by anyone. Some of these
ideas have been executed by artists and curators, such as for the exhibition
“Democracy!” (Royal College of Art, London, 2000)
His project “Things That Are Certainly not Art”, for which about 500 people
contributed to the show, inaugurated the Bloomberg Space in London in 2002.
He took part in the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) with “Riserva Artificiale”,
a collective work with a group of students of the local Academy of Fine
Arts, consisting in narrative explorations of people and places of Porto
Marghera, the industrial area of Venice.
cesarepietroiusti@hotmail.com
Matthieu Laurette
Matthieu Laurette was born in 1970 (Villeneuve St Georges, France).
He currently lives and works in between Paris and New York.
By turning the laws of marketing and the mass media to his advantage, Matthieu Laurette incorporates his work within a strategy of infiltration and redistribution. In 1993, he established his artistic birth certificate by taking part in a TV game called Tournez manège (The Dating Game) where the female presenter asked him who he was, to which he replied: ‘A multimedia artist’. in Pascal Beausse, La Biennale di Venezia, 49. Esposizione Internationale d’Arte – Platea dell’umanita, Exh. Cat. Venezia: Electa, 2001.
His recent selected exhibitions include Comodities, Deweer Art Gallery, Otegem; Publicness, ICA, London, GNS (GLOBAL NAVIGATION SYSTEM), Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Propaganda, Espace Paul Ricard, Paris (2003), Less Ordinary, Artsonje Center, Seoul, La vie au fond se rit du vrai, CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux and Art and Economy, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2002), Form Follows Fiction, Castello di Rivoli, Torino, Plateau of Humankind, 49th Venice Biennale (2001), Voilà, Arc-Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris, El Gran Trueque, Consonni, Bilbao (Solo), Plan B, De Appel, Amsterdam, Au dela du Spectacle (Let’s Entertain), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2000), Patchwork in Progress, Mamco-Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva (solo), Crash !, ICA, London (1999), Applaus, Casco Projects (solo), Utrecht, Premisses, Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum Soho, New York (1998). He received in 2003 the RICARD S.A. Award for the most representative artist under 40 y.o. in the French scene.
His works are in several public, corporate and private collections including Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, FNAC, National Fund for Contemporary Art, Paris, FRAC-Collection Aquitaine, Bordeaux, The Speyer Family Collection , New York, William Grant and Sons Ltd, Dufftown.
He has taught as guest professor and visiting lecturer at several art academies and universities including San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, Staedelschule, Frankfurt, ECAL, Lausanne, ENSBA, Paris, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh and ESAV Geneva and gives lectures and seminars worldwide including the Bronx Museum, New York, Musée du Quebec, Quebec, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Kunst Werke, Berlin, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon and Kiasma, Helsinki.
Links
Artist website
http://www.laurette.net
Selected texts and interviews.
Ricupero, Cristina. “Interview with Matthieu Laurette”, Social Hackers. Exh. Cat. Helsinki: Frame / Nifca, 2001
http://www.laurette.net/texts/2001/socialhackers_ricupero.htm
Beausse, Pascal. “Matthieu Laurette”, La Biennale di Venezia, 49. Esposizione Internationale d’Arte – Platea dell’umanita, Exh. Cat. Venezia: Electa, 2001:264-265
http://www.laurette.net/texts/2001/biennale_beausse_eng.htm
Allen, Jennifer. “Reviews. Matthieu Laurette, C/O Berlin”, Artforum (New York), Vol. 39 No. 2,(October 2000): 153-154.
http://www.laurette.net/texts/2000/artforum_allen_berlin.htm
Vaillant, Alexis. “Haven’t we met somewhere before ?” Essai. in Exh. Cat. Free Sample Demix. Paris: Galerie Jousse Seguin, 1998.
http://www.laurette.net/texts/1998/dmix_vaillant.htm
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3. Bourriaud Relational Aesthetics Glossary
From “Relational Aesthetics” by NB, published by “les
Presses du Reel”, Dijon, France
2002 english version 1998 french version.
Academism:
1. An attitude that involves clinging to the defunct signs and forms of one’s day and rendering these aesthetic.
2. synonum: pompous (pompier)
-And why wouldn`t he do something pompous, if it pays off` (Samuel Beckett)
Aesthetics
An idea that sets humankind apart from other animal species. In the end of the day, burying the dead, laughter, and suicide are just the corollaries of a deep-seated hunch, that life is an aesthetic, ritualised, shaped form.
Art.
1. General term describing a set of objects presented as part of a narrative known as art history.This narrative draws up the critical genealogy and discusses the issues raised by these objects, by way of three sub-sets: painting,sculpture, architecture.
2. Nowadays, the word ‘art’ seems to be no more than a semantic leftover of this narrative, whose more accurate definition would read as follows: Art is an activity consisting in producing relationships with the world with the help of signs, forms, actions and objects.
Art (The end of )
‘The end of art’ only exists in an idealistic view of history. We can nevertheless, and not without irony, borrow Hegel`s formula whereby ‘art, for us, is a thing of the past’ and turn it into a figure of style: let us remain open to what is happening in the present, which invariably exceeds, a priori, our capacities of understanding.
Artist
When Benjamin Buchloh referred to the conceptual and minimal generation of the 1960`s, he defined the artist as a ‘scholar-philosopher-craftsman’ who hands society ‘the objective results of his labour’ . For Buchloh, this figure was heir to that of the artist as ‘mediumic and transcendental subject’ represented by Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana and Joseph Beuys. Recent developments in art merely modify Buchloh’s hunch. Today’s artist appears as an operator of signs, modelling production structures so as to provide significant doubles. An entrepeneur/politician/director. The most common denominator shared by all artists is that they show something. The act of showing suffices to define the artist, be it a representation or a designation.
Behaviour
1. Beside those two established genres, the history of things and the history of forms, we still need to come up with a history of artistic behaviours. It would be naive to think that the history of art represents a whole capable of perennially replacing these three sub-groups. An artist’s microbiography would point up the things he has achieved within his oeuvre.
2. Artist, producer of time.
All totalitarian ideologies show a distinctive wish to control the time in which they exist. They replace the versatility of time invented by the individual by the fantasy of a central place where it might be possible to acquire the overall meaning of society. Totalitarianism systematically tries to set up a form of temporal motionlessness, and rendering the time in which it exits uniform and collective, a fantasy of eternity aimed first and foremost at standardising and monitoring patterns of behaviours. Foucault thus rightly stressed the fact that the art of living classed with ‘all forms of fascism, be they already there or lurking ‘
Co-existence criterion
All works of art produce a model of sociability, which transposes reality or might be conveyed in it. So there is a question we are entitled to ask in front of any aesthetic production: ‘Does this work permit me to enter into dialogue [ Could I exist, and how, in the space it defines?] A form is more or less democratic. May I simply remind you, for the record, that the forms produced by the art of totalitarian regimes are peremptory and closed in on themselves (particularly through their stress on symmetry).
Otherwise put, they do not give the viewer a chance to complement them.
(see: Relational (aesthetics)).
Context
In situ art is a form of artistic activity that encompasses the space in which it is on view. This consideration by the artist of the exhibition venue consisted, yesterday, in exploring its spatial and architectural configuration. A second possibility, prevalent in the art of the 1990s consists in an institutional structure, the socio-economic features encompassing it, and the people involved. This latter method calls for a great deal of subtlety : although such contextual studies have the merit of reminding us that the artistic doing does not drop out of the sky into a place unblemished by any ideology, it is nevertheless important to fit this investigation into a prospect that goes beyond the primary stage of sociology, It is not enough to extract, mechanically, the social characteristics of the place where you exhibit (the art centre, the city, the region, the country…) to ”reveal” whatever it may be. For some artists who complicated thinking represents an architecture of meanings, no more nor less (Dan Asher, Daniel Buren, Jef Geys, Mark Dion) how many conceptual hacks are there who laboriously ‘associate’, for their show in Montelimar, nougat production and unemployment figures? The mistake lies in thinking that the sense of an aesthetic fact lies solely in the context.
2. Art after criticism
Once art ‘overtook’ philosophy (joseph Kosuth), it nowadays goes beyond critical philosophy, where conceptual art has helped to spread the viewpoint. Doubt can be cast over the stance of the ‘critical’ artist, when this position consists in judging the world as if he were excluded from it by divine grace, and played no part in it. This idealistic attitude can be contrasted with Lacanian intuition that the unconscious is its own analyst. And Marx’s idea that explains that real criticism is the criticism of reality that exists through criticism itself. For there is no mental place where the artist might exclude himself from the world he represents.
Critical materialism
The world is made up of random encounters (Lucretius, Hobbes, Marx, Althusser). Art, too, is made of chaotic, chance meetings of signs and forms. Nowadays, it even creates spaces within which the encounter can occur. Present-day art does not present the outcome of a labour, it is the labour itself, or the labour-to-be.
Factitiousness
Art is not the world of suspended will (Schopenhauer), or of the disappearance of contingency (Sartre), but a space emptied of the factitious. It in no way clashes with authenticity (an absurd value where art is concerned) but replaces coherences, even phoney ones, with the illusory world of ‘truth’. It is the bad lie that betrays the hack, who at best touching sincerity inevitably ends up as a forked tongue.
Form
Structural unity imitating a world. Artistic practice involves creating a form capable of “lasting”, bringing heterogeneous units together on a coherent level, in order to create a relationship to the world.
Gesture
Movement of the body revealing a psychological state or designed to express an idea. Gesturality means the set of requisite operations introduced by the production of artworks, from their manufacture to the production of peripheral signs (actions, event, anecdotes)
Image
Making a work involves the invention of a process of presentation. In this kind of process, the image is an act.
Inhabiting
Having imagined architecture and art of the future, the artist is now proposing solutions for inhabiting them. The contemporary form of modernity is ecological,haunted by the occupancy of forms and the use of images.
Modern
The ideals of modernity have not vanished,they have been adapted. So “the total work of art” comes about today in its spectacular version, emptied of its teleological content. Our civilization makes up for the hyperspecialization of social functions by the progressive unity of leisure activities. It is thus possible to predict,without too much risk attaching thereto, that the aesthetic experience of the average late 20th century individual might roughly resemble what early 20th century avant-gardes imagined. Between the interactive video disk, the CD-Rom, ever more multi-media-oriented games consoles, and the extreme sophistication of mass recreational venues, discotheques and theme parks, we are heading towards the condensation of leisure in unifying forms. Towards a compact art. Once a CD-Rom and Cd-I drives are available. which have enough autonomy, books, exhibitions and films will be in competition with a form of expression that is at once more comprehensive and more thought-restricting, circulating writing, imagery and sound in new forms.
Operational realism
Presentation of the functional sphere in an aesthetic arrangement.The work proposes a functional model and not a maquette. In other words, the concept of dimension does not come into it, just as in the digital image whose proportions may vary dependng on the size of the screen, which unlike the frame, does not enclose works within a predetermined format, but rather renders virtuality material in x dimensions.
Ready-made
Artistic figure contemporary with the invention of film. The artist takes his camera-subjectivity into the real, defining himself as a cameraman: the museum plays the part of the film, he records. For the first time, with Duchamp, art no longer consists in translating the real with the help of signs, but in presenting this same real as it is (Duchamp, the Lumière brothers…
Relational Aesthetics
Aesthetic theory consisting in judging artworks on the basis of the inter-human relations which they represent, produce or prompt.(see co-existence criterion)
Relational (art)
A set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.
Semionaut
The contemporary artist is a semionaut, he invents trajectories between signs.
Society of extras
The society of the spectacle has been defined by Guy Debord as the historical moment when merchandise achieved ‘the total occupation of social life ‘ , capital having reached ‘such a degree of accumulation’ that it was turned into imagery. Today , we are in the further stage of spectacular development: the individual has shifted from a passive and purely repetitive status to the minimum activity dictated to him by market forces. So television consumption is shrinking in favour of video games, thus the spectacular hierarchy encourages ’empty monads’, i.e. programmeless models and politicians, thus everyone sees themselves summoned to be famous for fifteen minutes, using a TV game, street poll or new item as go-between. This is the reign of the ‘Infamous Man’ , whom Michel Foucault defined as the anonymous and ‘ordinary’ individual suddenly put in the glare of the media spotlights. Here we are summoned to turn into extras of the spectacle, having been regarded as its consumers. This switch can be historically explained: since the surrender of the Soviet bloc, there are no obstacles on capitalism’s path to empire.It has a total hold of the social arena, so it can permit itself to stir individuals to frolic about in the free and open spaces that it has staked out. So, after the consumer society, we can see the dawning of the society of extras where the individual develops as a part-time stand-in for freedom, signer and sealer of the public place.
Style
The movement of a work, its trajectory ‘The style of a thought is its movement’ (Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari).
Trailer
Having been an event per se (classical painting), then the graphic recording of an event (the work of Jackson Pollock with photographic documents describing a performance or an action), today’s work of art often assumes the role of a trailer for a forthcoming event, or an event that is put off forever.
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4. Bourriaud / Simpson Interview
Public Relations – Nicolas Bourriaud – Interview
Bennett Simpson
FOR EVIDENCE OF ART’S recent love affair with “interactivity” and “connectivity,” one need look no further than the pair of digital art surveys currently playing at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For less literal proof, however, one might consider the recent appointment of Nicolas Bourriaud as codirector, with Jerome Sans, of the newly created Palais de Tokyo contemporary art center in Paris. As a young critic in the ’90s, Bourriaud offered one of the earliest readings of the emergent metaphors of artistic production engendered by information culture. The name he coined for his ideas–“relational aesthetics”–would become the title of his first book of criticism in 1997 and one of the more frequently heard catchphrases, at least in Europe, when it came to the practices of artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija, Philippe Parreno, Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, Maurizio Cattelan, and Vanessa Beecroft, all of whom were included in Bourriaud’s 1996 exhibition “Traffic” at th e capcMusee d’Art Contemporain in Bordeaux.
Relational aesthetics was formulated at an auspicious moment in the technological arc of ’90s art. Midway between the critical and socially diffuse ethos of institutional critique at the beginning of the decade and art’s full-tilt into entertainment and digital production by decade’s end, it might be said that Bourriaud anticipated the future by looking backward. Hardly a techie, Bourriaud was greatly influenced by critical art’s focus on the sphere of reception, which had newly privileged questions of site and audience, and on the social network of art itself. By the mid-’90s, however, the artists with whom Bourriaud worked most closely tended to locate their practices not in relation to art’s own apparatuses but in the metaphorical (and often literal) spaces colonized by mass media and spectacle culture. In Bourriaud’s framework, artists like Tiravanija and Beecroft had become postpolitical producers of cultural services: get people together, give them some terms, provide an experience. Indeed, against the quintessentially late-’90s backdrop of dot-comism and user empowerment, relational aesthetics seems most a product of its time. With Bourriaud’s third book, Post-Production, due out this fall (Lukas & Sternberg) and the English translation of Esthetique relationnelle (les Presses du Reel, 1997) set to appear later this year, I sat down with the curator in February in the start-up-style offices of the Palais de Tokyo to ask him how his ideas are evolving.
BENNETT SIMPSON: How will the Palais de Tokyo differentiate itself from the other museums in Paris that exhibit contemporary art?
NICOLAS BOURRIAUD: The Palais will be the only space devoted exclusively to contemporary art in Paris. We want to be a sort of interdisciplinary kunstverein–more laboratory than museum. [Palais codirector] Jerome [Sans] and I believe that it’s impossible to understand what’s going on in contemporary art if you don’t address disciplines like music or literature or movies or fashion, but our thinking about this will be driven by art’s problematics. The museum will also be open from noon until midnight. Why do museums and art centers copy bankers hours? Besides, we prefer to think of the evening as the best time for our kind of proposals.
BS: The impetus for the Palais seems very much a response to your local context and history.
NB: Yes and no. I don’t think it’s possible to have national models anymore. We’ve tried to shift the problem. For us, Paris is just a city where a lot of interesting people live. It’s a meeting place, like New York. Our idea is not to sell France, but to situate the Palais in the international circuit from the vantage point of Paris. We prefer to be a kind of satellite–a spot for production and broadcast.
BS: As a critic in the ’90s, you began to speak of what you called “relational aesthetics.” Was this a critical strategy, or was it more a reflection of a zeitgeist?
NB: My ideas about relational aesthetics started from observing a group of artists–Rirkrit Tiravanija, Maurizio Cattelan, Philippe Parreno, Pierre Huyghe, Vanessa Beecroft. Relational aesthetics was a critical method, a way of approaching the art of the ’90s, as well as a general sensibility that these artists shared. One of the most important ideas for me is what I called the “criterion of coexistence.” Take the example of ancient Chinese and Japanese painting, which always leaves space open for the viewer to complete the experience. This painting is an ellipses. I like art that allows its audience to exist in the space opened up by it. For me, art is a space of images, objects, and human beings. Relational aesthetics is a way of considering the productive existence of the viewer of art, the space of participation that art can offer.
BS: But isn’t any aesthetic experience at least partially “completed” by the viewer or participant? What’s different, in terms of practice, about the ’90s artists you’ve mentioned?
NB: Relational aesthetics tries to decode or understand the type of relations to the viewer produced by the work of art. Minimalism addressed the question of the viewer’s participation in phenomenological terms. The art of the ’90s addresses it in terms of use. Tiravanija once quoted this sentence from Wittgenstein: “Don’t look for the meaning of things, look for their use.” One is not in front of an object anymore but included in the process of its construction.
BS: When you first began to write about relational aesthetics in 1995, you were looking at a group of artists that had been responding to a very depressed market and to a field quite open, if painfully so, to self-examination and self-critique. A lot has changed since then in terms of the market, the economy, and the commercialization of culture. How has your project evolved in response to these changes?
NB: The fact is that the early-’90s crisis in the art market was in many ways a stroke of good luck. Galleries and institutions opened up to unsalable and immaterial kinds of art practice, to projects they would not have considered five years before. Of course, one fears that these artists may have transformed themselves under the pressure of the market into a kind of merchandising of relations and experience. The question we might raise today is, Connecting people, creating interactive, communicative experience: What for? What does the new kind of contact produce? If you forget the “what for?” I’m afraid you’re left with simple Nokia art–producing interpersonal relations for their own sake and never addressing their political aspects.
BS: It’s easy to be cynical about the idea of relationality and connectivity because we heard it so often in the rhetoric of the dot-coms. Do you really think ’90s artists had an answer to the “What for?”?
NB: Because many artists in the ’90s dealt with or used some of the crasser aspects of capitalism–Maurizio Cattelan renting his space at the ’93 Venice Biennale, Jason Rhoades working from a Ferrari–the question of motivation is confusing. But I think that there’s no point in trying to hide behind a romantic or heroic notion of the artist. In my upcoming book Post-Production, the idea is that art has definitively reached the tertiary sector–the service industry–and that art’s current function is to deal with things that were created elsewhere, to recycle and duplicate culture. Art production now indexes the service industry and immaterial economy more than heavy industry (as it did with Minimalism). Artists provide access to certain regions of the visible, and the objects they make become more and more secondary. They don’t really “create” anymore, they reorganize. There are two dominant figures in today’s culture: the DJ and the programmer. Both deal with things that are already produced. The common poin t between relational aesthetics and Post-Production is this idea that to communicate or have relations with other people, you need tools. Culture is this box of tools.
BS: “Culture as communication” is a long-standing idea from social anthropology, cybernetics, and semiotics. Culture is always a mediating set of relations. Are these artists doing anything besides pushing at an open door? How is the model of the DJ any different from the familiar models of postmodern pastiche or the tired avant-gardisms of the bricoleur?
NB: I think quotation is no longer an operative value. Quotation only submits one’s work to the authority of History and its “masters.” A DJ doesn’t “quote,” per se. He or she wanders into History and uses previous works according to his or her own needs. This method might be similar to past ones, but the set of values that organizes it has changed: Nobody cares anymore about signatures as authority markers, we now live in a cultural space of increasingly fluid circulations of signs.
BS: If art relies on the same rhetoric of interactive experience and connectivity as commercial culture, can it expect to be received any differently? Does it forfeit its capacity to be distinct? One wants to maintain some specificity.
NB: Commerce, trading, the market, is a much more important metaphor for art than we like to believe. For my part, I tend to think well of metaphors of commerce and trading. In early civilization, the trader or the merchant was always bringing things from outside culture, from other cultures, into the market at the center of the city. Traders disrupted things, they brought disharmony, difference, new objects and ideas. It’s no coincidence that art is dealing with this complex at this point. We have a global culture, dominated by exchange. The problem arises when the market becomes abstract, when you feel that you can have no control over it. This abstraction of the market is something that artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija and Sylvie Fleury and Gabriel Orozco address in very specific ways.
BS: Of course, the ’90s also saw the rise of new media and digital art. Do you see a relationship between this and the more “traditional” kinds of interactive art practice you mention above? Does the former make the latter seem anachronistic?
NB: The indirectness of this correspondence is very important to consider when you think about art’s relation to technology. Think about the beginnings of photography. Photography started as something very documentary and academic when it tried to be artistic. The first photographs were still lifes or portraits. This new technique of representation only began to get interesting with the advent of Impressionism. Photography allowed Impressionism to exist, but totally indirectly, by creating a new frame of thought: Suddenly, it was possible to use light, luminous impact, to define forms and represent reality. Today, the way that the Internet changes our frame of mind is not only felt on the Web. Most Internet art is superacademic at this point. At the same time, indirectly, this new technology is what has allowed a Rirkrit Tiravanija to think the way he does.
Bennett Simpson is a writer based in New York.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Artforum International Magazine, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group
 
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5. Related Brian Holmes Texts
We have two additional supporting materials linked to last week’s discussions and quite useful for this week’s discussion.
Reflecting Museums
Art in the mirror of political economy
http://www.16beavergroup.org/mtarchive/archives/001176.php
Warhol in the Rising Sun
Art, subcultures and semiotic production
http://www.16beavergroup.org/mtarchive/archives/001177.php
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6. About MASS MoCA Series
At the conclusion of May 2004, MASS MoCA opened its doors to “The
Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere – a brief survey of
interventionist political art practices of the 90s”.
Since 1999, we have been organizing events, presentations, and activities
which have among other things generated/addressed questions related to
social/political engagement within cultural practice.
So rather than produce something outside our framework of ongoing
activities for this exhibition, we will instead tie together our
discussions/events which deal with the larger questions of art in the
social sphere.
We will not only attempt to invite artists who are involved with the
exhibition, but other projects, artists, practices which we find
interesting and believe make an important contribution to the subject at
hand. We also hope to organize some readings and open discussions that do
not center on one particular artist or group.
Other events in the series have included:
http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday/archives/000792.php
http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday/archives/000668.php
http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday/archives/001073.php
http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday/archives/001103.php
http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday/archives/001112.php
http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday/archives/001141.php
http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday/archives/001154.php
http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday/archives/001158.php
Related texts:
http://www.16beavergroup.org/sholette
http://www.16beavergroup.org/brian
http://www.16beavergroup.org/journalisms/archives/001081.php
http://www.16beavergroup.org/journalisms/archives/001168.php