Last week I had a rough day at work which resulted in me not getting a chance to attend an artists talk that I had been looking forward to. I decided to go home and do something to make myself feel better, which in this case, was to listen to a lecture by Claire Bishop I’d been meaning to get to for a while.
The lecture was delivered at the University of Chicago in 2008 and was titled “Pedagogy as Art.” Listening to that lecture, which I’ll post later, was so exciting. Bishop’s work is totally new to me, but she has been publishing really useful thoughts about relational art practices for at least six or seven years. Now I’m on a bit of a mission to read as much of her work as I can.
Instead of posting the lecture or one of her essays, I am posting a short, easily digestible letter she published in October back in 2006. The letter is a response to a Liam Gillick’s reaction to (I am assuming here) Bishop’s pivotal essay Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, published in October in the fall of 2004. (I can help you track down a copy if you don’t have access to jstor or a library with October.)
I picked this letter because it sort of falls in the middle of a lot of her work. Reading the one page letter, you get a sense of the work she has done previously and the reaction it garnered. She also clearly states her intentions for the original essay and her goals for work as she moves forward. Consider it a starting point for those like me, who have somehow been unaware of Bishop’s work until now, to begin exploring her ideas.
"So this begs the question how can I use this blog, this site, and the webs connectivity and very material resistance to a uni-vocal trajectory, to have a conversation with you? I want to talk with you reader. I want to have a conversation. I want us to come to an understanding together over what the words I am using mean to you. But, I also delight in the knowing this can never really happen. You will misunderstand me and that’s ok, there is a power and potential in the space where understanding begins to break down: the margins of knowledge. This site offers an opportunity to conjure a world where we can become connected and converse from a place of common misunderstanding. I’m looking forward to meeting you there."
Hot damn! This podcast is good. Nato Thompson at Open Engagement. Randall Szott and Abby Satinsky (of InCUBATE fame) chime in as well. It’s very relevant to a lot of conversations I’ve had lately. Plenty of “what are doing?” “who are we doing it for?” “how can we monetize it?” “should we monetize it” and so forth.
I really like how they talk about the dilemma that always plagues critical discourse: The more specialized and specific the language, the more difficult it is for people to engage.
Also, Nato Thompson’s voice sounds exactly the opposite of what I thought I would sound like. But he’s really fun to listen to.
Video from the panel discussion I was on this past Wednesday.
Kevin wrote a pretty good critique of the discussion on the Rapidian. There is some cool conversation going on over there.
I left the panel feeling as though what I was trying to say wasn’t really being heard (which is clearly a failure on my part), and that despite the fact this talk is at minimum the 3rd large-scale public discussion about these issues we are still at the bitch-fest phase in our growth as an artistic community. This, as Kevin points out in his review, is the result of an oversimplistic understanding of what the “problem” is, coupled with the inability to start thinking outside of the traditional direct-trade funding paradigm. Why do support structures (and their development) remain virtually absent from these kinds of discussions? And more frustratingly, why are attempts at developing new models dismissed as “small potatoes” rather than first stabs at problem solving when they actually do come up?
We have such an amazing opportunity in Grand Rapids to experiment with new ideas and new models of funding art-making. We are at a fantastic point where a lot of small stabs have the opportunity to add up to something really significant. So where they at?
ps. the video doesn’t pick up the audible murmur from the audience when I said i do my work for free.
“[Art] should therefore be portable, manipulable if possible, by whoever (except the artist himself) assumes the responsibility of removing it from its place of origin to its place of promotion. A work produced in the studio must be seen, therefore, as an object subject to infinite manipulation. In order for this to occur, from the moment of its production the work must be isolated from the real world. All the same, it is in the studio and only in the studio that it is closest to its own reality, a reality from which it will continue to distance itself. It may become what even its creator had not anticipated, serving instead, as is usually the case, the greater profit of financial interests and the dominant ideology. It is therefore only in the studio that the work may be said to belong.” -Daniel Buren, The Function of The Studio
If we were formerly offered only two options for art’s existence (to rot away alone with purity in a studio or to be corrupted by decontextualization elsewhere) Automatic Redirect proposes a third choice in light of both the studio and gallery’s new locations: to use a gallery’s online presence as a way of creating viewership for art in its original studio context. During the week of June 7-14, Create Art Today’s website will automatically redirect all visitors to Jogging, a blog that simultaneously functions as a studio and ongoing exhibition alike. In doing so, C.A.T.’s promotional role is stripped bare as all semblance of a middle ground between the two entities is removed. This is a project about minimizing interference– an attempt towards transferring social capital and attention in the most immediate way possible. For the week, C.A.T. will conform to Jogging’s content instead of Jogging’s works fitting inside of C.A.T.’s residence at New York’s PPOW gallery. To inaugurate this brief transformation and demonstrate the informational boundlessness of digital display, we invite you to watch Jogging enter a mode of hyper-productivity during this period.
"There is no chance of a spectator distinguishing between an artwork and a “simple thing” on the basis of the spectator’s visual experience alone. The spectator must first know a particular object to be used by an artist in the context of his or her artistic practice in order to identify it as an artwork or as a part of an artwork."
"What I know now is that she and MoMA have brought some magic back into art — the sort of magic that all of our courses in art history and appreciation had encouraged us to hope for. James Turrell, the light artist, once told me that after seeing the slides of paintings in the courses he had taken, he was disappointed by the actual paintings. What he had really loved was the light, and in a sense then vowed to make sure his art, consisting of light, would never lose its magic. Those who do get lucky enough to sit with Marina will not be disappointed, because the light I noticed will be there, even if they are not ready to see it."
"127 Prince is a new journal named after the location of artist Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1971 restaurant FOOD. Like FOOD, 127 Prince hopes to function as a site for conversation. The journal will present and examine ideas on the art of social practice, and the social practice of art."