Art in General

About/Archive/RSS

www.artingeneral.org
“In reality the past is preserved by itself, automatically. In its entirety, probably, it follows us at every instant; all that we have felt, thought and willed from our earliest infancy is there, leaning over the present which is about to join it, pressing against the portals of consciousness that would fain leave it outside.”–Henri Bergson
'…expanding outwards and folding into other narratives within the larger exhibition Walking Forward-Running Past…'
'Walking Forward-Running Past embraces synchronicity, connection and serendipity, presenting a group of works that explore time’s malleable form, and questioning the linear narrative conventionally measured as past, present, and future.'
Art in General’s 30th Anniversary Exhibition, Walking Forward-Running Past: Zoe Crosher, Will Rogan, Alison O’Daniel, Catherine Czacki, Tim Lee, John Baldessari, Kimberlee Venable, Andrea Geyer, Paul Chan, robbinschildshttp://www.artingeneral.org/exhibitions/517
Catherine Czacki, 2011http://www.artingeneral.org/exhibitions/519Image courtesy I f*cking love science (FB)
lkc

“In reality the past is preserved by itself, automatically. In its entirety, probably, it follows us at every instant; all that we have felt, thought and willed from our earliest infancy is there, leaning over the present which is about to join it, pressing against the portals of consciousness that would fain leave it outside.”–Henri Bergson

'…expanding outwards and folding into other narratives within the larger exhibition Walking Forward-Running Past…'

'Walking Forward-Running Past embraces synchronicity, connection and serendipity, presenting a group of works that explore time’s malleable form, and questioning the linear narrative conventionally measured as past, present, and future.'

Art in General’s 30th Anniversary Exhibition, Walking Forward-Running Past: Zoe Crosher, Will Rogan, Alison O’Daniel, Catherine Czacki, Tim Lee, John Baldessari, Kimberlee Venable, Andrea Geyer, Paul Chan, robbinschilds
http://www.artingeneral.org/exhibitions/517

Catherine Czacki, 2011
http://www.artingeneral.org/exhibitions/519

Image courtesy I f*cking love science (FB)

lkc

Maria Elena González appointed Assistant Professor in Sculpture at SFAI

image
Maria Elena González
(h)ear labyrinth, 2003
Flexible translucent resin          
15 × 11 × 1/2 in          
Art in General Limited Edition
Courtesy the artist and The Project, New York


For San Francisco Art Institute’s complete announcement courtesy art&education, please visit http://bit.ly/1n5Y2HS.

For Limited Edition details, please visit Art in General online:http://bit.ly/1hIDibv.

Alex Ito: The Home of Tao Hsiao

image

B: Did you know that this would happen?

A: No- but i suspected something would happen.

B: What gave you that feeling?

A: My belief. I had given myself to these things- these bags, these buildings, these cheap stories. I was a believer. There was no questioning what I had become, because I already was.

B: What were you?

A: A part of a whole. The body’s reflection. My family was the bag, the building and the stories.

B: I’m not sure I understand.

A: The things I acquired and exchanged. A transaction. An institution. The story that ends with my happiness. The story of this place. It was important for me to uphold my family’s traditions. How could I contribute? How could I matter?

B: How could you “matter”?

A: To do service to my family. To maintain our home. To keep the story going.

B: Kind of like a sequel.

A: More like an extension to a house. Everything needs support. Whether it is was a roman column in the past or a cinderblock now, I must uphold the canon. The pyramids wouldn’t exist without all those believers. I am the next roman column- the next page.

B: You “are”? Does this mean you are still a believer? 

Art in General is pleased to present The Home of Tao Hsiao, an exhibition of new works by Alex Ito in Art In General’s Storefront Project Space. Ito’s exhibition is an extension of Art in General’s 2013 New Commission with The Still House Group, supporting not only the organization’s permanent studio roster of eight artists, but so too their network and community.

Complete exhibition details available here.

Above: Alex Ito, The Home of Tao Hsiao, installation view, Art in General Storefront Project Space, Spring 2014. Photo: Steven Probert

imageimage

“We should demonstrate by our example that capitalism also makes the labor of thinking possible on the broadest basis, as only capitalism is able to provide it.” 

-Ernst Gombrich, Aby Warburg, an Intellectual Biography (With a Memoir on the History of the Library by F. Saxl) (London: Warburg Institute, University of London, 1970), 130. 

“The path to greater economic self-sufficiency will necessarily lead to alternative lifestyles which will run counter to the image of the good life presented to us by white supremacist capitalist patriarchal mass media.” 

-bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (Boston: South End Press, 2000), 52. 

Images from the opening of Lisi Raskin’s Recuperative Tactics and you know it when you feel it, Art in General, April 19, 2014, from top: Viewers take in Roxanne D. Crocker’s CAKE at the opening; CAKE detail. Photos: Steven Probert

artingeneral.org/exhibitions/567

New Commission by Halsey Rodman opens at HDTS

image

May 31, 2014 – May 31, 2015            
High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, CA
September 5 – November 21, 2015 
Art in General, New York, NY

RECENT PRESS
ON VIEW: An Artist’s Dueling Landscapes, Kareem Estefan, T Magazine, November 18, 2013. View article.
ARTISTS ON ARTISTS: Halsey Rodman by Ulrike Müller , BOMB, Spring 2013. View article.

Art in General is pleased to present Halsey Rodman’s Gradually / We Became Aware / Of a Hum in the Room, a New Commission in collaboration with High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, CA.

Gradually / We Became Aware / Of a Hum in the Room presents a temporally distributed architectural structure conceived for two locations: the desert of High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, CA and Art in General’s 6th floor gallery in the heart of downtown New York City. The work begins in the desert as a triangular building divided into three identical rooms. Each room has a circular window looking out upon the landscape and contains a series of near-identical “fixtures”: a desk, a chair, and a shelf. The interior and fixtures are painted distinct colors according to the single descriptive text below.

I AM THINKING OF A REVERSE SUNSET THAT NEITHER OF US HAS EVER SEEN: WHAT YOU SEE IN THE SKY OPPOSITE THE SUNSET.

WHAT SURROUNDS THE PRISM IN THE DESERT IN THE FUTURE IS OUT OF REACH SO

I WILL PULL THESE COLORS FROM THE AIR.

FOUR COLORS ABOVE THE TAN DESERT SCRUB IN THE GRAYING SKY FADE TOWARDS THE LIGHT BLUE DUSK: DUSTY PURPLE, MAGENTA, FADING RED, PEACH AND ON INTO THAT AIRLESS BLUE

THE FIFTH COLOR IS YELLOW: THE CONE OF A FLASHLIGHT IN A PITCH BLACK ROOM

One year later the work will be dismantled, transported, and reassembled inside Art in General’s gallery, the previous exterior walls unfolded to become the interior. The three (formerly) exterior walls create a central, open triangular area and the interiors and walls of the rooms will be splayed-out around the perimeter. All windows in the gallery are open, allowing the shifting light to filter in, clock-like, from the outside. The presence of the desert landscape is collapsed into the center of the inside-out structure, an exterior folded in upon itself. This inverted structure, now established as a zone of exchange, interpenetration, and blurring between interior and exterior, suggests a consensual, productive encounter of time and architecture.

Halsey Rodman (b. 1973) is an American artist living and working in New York, NY. Rodman received his BA from the College of Creative Studies at the University of Santa Barbara in 1995 and his MFA from Columbia University in 2003. Rodman has been the subject of solo exhibitions including Cave System or Ear Canal, Soloway, New York, NY (2013); The Birds, Guild & Greyshkul, New York, NY (2008); The Navigator’s Quarters Must Not Be Disturbed, Guild & Greyshkul, New York, NY (2006); among others. His work has been exhibited in numerous group exhibitions including A Room in Three Movements, Sue Scott Gallery, New York, NY (2011); in here, Laurel Gitlen, New York, NY (2010); The Line of Time and the Plane of Now, curated by Jacob Dyrenforth, Ohad Meromi, and Halsey Rodman, Harris Lieberman, New York, NY (2007); among others. His work has been the subject of articles in The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Brooklyn Rail, TimeOut New York; among others.

Founded in 2002, High Desert Test Sites, is a non-profit organization that pays tribute to inspirational figures in our surrounding community and generates dialogue and reciprocal exchange with international contemporary artists and critical thinkers whose practices transcend traditional art world formats. Over the last eleven years HDTS has endeavored to encourage experimental art that engages with the world at large. We support and draw attention to independent projects that happen outside of the auspices of larger institutions and challenge artists and audiences to expand the definition of art to take on new areas of relevancy.

High Desert Test Sites is grateful to their generous supporters and volunteers, including Malado Francine Baldwin, Luke Davis, Josephine Edmondson, Lauren Gallow, Anna Ialeggio, Hannah Jackson, Sophie Stid, and Angie Terry.

Additional support for Gradually / We Became Aware / Of a Hum in the Room provided by Guerra Paints. Special thanks to Eric/Blumberg Designs and Vance Wellenstein & Phil Lubline/Other Means, and Toporovsky Triplets.

Image: Site for Gradually / We Became Aware / Of a Hum in the Room, at High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, California, 2014.


'Propulsion' by Christine Sciulli
Installed at Art in General’s Spring Gala
Honoring Visionaries Lisa Dennison and Phong Bui
April 22, 2014
ROOT[Drive-In] Studios
443 West 18th, NYC

Video courtesy Christine Sciulli
www.soundandvision.cc

(Source: vimeo.com)

image

Robert Sember on the topic of “Collectivity,” presented as part of What Now? 2014: Collaboration & Collectivity at the Vera List Center Saturday, April 5, 2014. 

For the members of Ultra-red, the question of political listening attains urgency because of our specific commitments to class struggle. Both within the cultural action of Ultra-red and in our political contexts outside/alongside Ultra-red, we witness continually how the failures to determine a deliberative process of collective listening results in all manner of obstacles within the very confines of movement building, not to mention the procedures of listening required in contested encounters with state power and its class masters. And yet we know from our own experience as well as through scholarship, that movements sustain themselves or not in large part due to their capacity to develop listening protocols, either intentionally authored or adopted from existing social and political forms, such as the church, the family, the classroom, or friendship. Oftentimes organizers, activists, and base communities resist intentional protocols of listening on the grounds that such procedures trigger a feeling of in-authenticity or unnaturalness. And yet in that resistance we can hear the conflict between competing protocols and even the friction between underlying ethical systems. As the sociologist Francesca Polletta has pointed out, movements organized upon the armature of friendship can find intentional processes inauthentic precisely because those processes demand a reorganization of relations and even a shift in ethical foundation from one based on affinity to one that becomes available to the stranger or outsider. Throughout these often painful episodes of transition and re-examination, the existing protocols of listening come under scrutiny and risk themselves seeming strange and unnatural. Thus, it could be said that listening as a political practice is always an encounter with the stranger in our midst.  At this point, I can signal a third dimension of collectivity that may be of interest here, which is the question of leadership.  The move to collective listening can be an opportunity to diminish or dilute the tendency for a collective to be organized around a single personality or particular authority.  Related to this issue is the difference in the roles individuals can play within collectives.  A particularly important distinction to be made is between the individual as organizer and the individual or collective as protagonist of struggle.

In Ultra-red’s consideration of leadership, we often turn to the legacy of Ella Baker, a woefully underappreciated civil rights organizer.  Ella Baker helped form economic cooperatives in Harlem in the early 20th century, and greatly increased the national membership of the NAACP while actively critiquing the organization’s hierarchical and male-dominated structure.  She is probably best remembered for her work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  Under Miss Baker’s guidance SNCC members practiced a form of organizing grounded in procedures of listening that involved disciplined attentiveness and active questioning. Working closely with poor, rural communities in segregated Southern states, SNCC activists saw their role as using an active practice of listening to assist the constituency find its own power and solutions to problems. Even when the work of SNCC became consolidated around voter-registration campaigns, those campaigns always assumed the primary aim of developing and reproducing leadership within and among the community itself. SNCC activists were not the protagonists of the movement.  They were its organizers. In testimony after testimony, when asked about the role of Ella Baker in the movement, SNCC alumni talk of how she taught people how to listen. That pedagogy of listening was the basis of a political literacy that then equipped SNCC field organizers to work with people and help them realize their own power to endure the brutal retaliation of white supremacist state and mass violence and eventually transform a racially defined class structure.*

Robert Sember is a member of the international sound-art collective, Ultra-red (for more information click here). For twenty years, Ultra-red has investigated the contribution experimental sound art can make to political organizing. Robert brings to his work with Ultra-red training in cultural studies and medical anthropology. His ethnographic research in the U.S. and South Africa has focused on governmental and non-governmental service sectors with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment concerns. He currently teaches at The New School’s Eugene Lang College. He was a 2009-2010 Vera List Center for Art and Politics Fellow.

*This is only an excerpt. The full presentation will be made available shortly here.

"What does it mean when a place moves? Can we imagine, while sitting in this room, that the room is now in a different country? No, we are in Paris, and Paris is in France. Or we are in New York, or we are in Reykjavik. Everywhere, we are bound to the laws of time and space. How can we break out of this truth?"

Text Citation: An excerpt from Katrín Sigurdardóttir’s ‘500 Words’ for ARTFORUM, as told to Julian Elias Bronner. For the full article, click here.
Image Credit: Katrín Sigurdardóttir. Foundation (detail), 2013. Wood and concrete, dimensions variable. Installation view.

"What does it mean when a place moves? Can we imagine, while sitting in this room, that the room is now in a different country? No, we are in Paris, and Paris is in France. Or we are in New York, or we are in Reykjavik. Everywhere, we are bound to the laws of time and space. How can we break out of this truth?"

Text Citation: An excerpt from Katrín Sigurdardóttir’s ‘500 Words’ for ARTFORUM, as told to Julian Elias Bronner. For the full article, click here.

Image Credit: Katrín Sigurdardóttir. Foundation (detail), 2013. Wood and concrete, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Jargot, Ola Vasiljeva’s current exhibition at Art in General (click here for more info), playfully investigates the pitfalls of language and its inability to fully describe and define. Jargot nods to both ‘jargon’ and ‘argot’, terms that favor understanding only to one particular group, difficult for those not included to comprehend. In and of itself ‘jargot’ is a hybrid, a mash-up, given only approximate meaning through the context of Vasiljeva’s exhibition. 
In conversation with curator Zane Onckule, Vasiljeva spoke of her relationship with language as part of growing up in Latvia under Soviet occupation. She discussed ‘Aesopian language,’ a type of doublespeak, as tactic of subversion, wherein communication was used to convey an innocent meaning to an outsider, but contained a hidden interpretation to those in the know.
“As a term, ‘Aesopian language’ was first used by Russian satirist M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin in his Letters to Auntie (1881-1882), in order to designate a ‘figurative language of slavery’, an ‘ability to speak between the lines […] at a time when literature was in a state of bondage’*. As for the practice associated with this concept, it can be traced back to the Antiquity and, even when labeled differently or used purely intuitively, it has since represented one of the most efficient forms of resistance of the intellectuals against censorship – particularly under totalitarian regimes. Lenin’s hope, declared on several occasions, was that the triumph of communism should end this ‘accursed’ language; however, historical experience proved unerringly the opposite. Not only did the installation of the communist regime lead to a proliferation and an unprecedented diversification of Aesopian language in Russia, but this practice was to spread swiftly to the other East-Central European countries entering the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence after 1945. This has been frequently emphasized by the various theoretical and applied studies dedicated to Aesopian language, mainly during the two decades following the collapse of communism in Europe.”
  
Text Citation: Terian, Andrei. “The Rhetoric of Subversion: Strategies of ‘Aesopian Language’ in Romanian Literary Criticism under Late Communism,” SLOVO, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Autumn 2012), 75-95. School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 2012. For the complete text, click here.
* Lioudmila Savinitch, ‘Pragmatic Goals and Communicative Strategies in Journalistic Discourse under Censorship’, in Power without Domination: Dialogism and the Empowering Property of Communication, ed. by Eric Grillo (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2005), p. 108. 

Image Credit: Ola Vasiljeva. Jargot, 2014. Installation view at Art in General. Image courtesy the artist and Art in General. Photography: Steven Probert

Jargot, Ola Vasiljeva’s current exhibition at Art in General (click here for more info), playfully investigates the pitfalls of language and its inability to fully describe and define. Jargot nods to both ‘jargon’ and ‘argot’, terms that favor understanding only to one particular group, difficult for those not included to comprehend. In and of itself ‘jargot’ is a hybrid, a mash-up, given only approximate meaning through the context of Vasiljeva’s exhibition.

In conversation with curator Zane Onckule, Vasiljeva spoke of her relationship with language as part of growing up in Latvia under Soviet occupation. She discussed ‘Aesopian language,’ a type of doublespeak, as tactic of subversion, wherein communication was used to convey an innocent meaning to an outsider, but contained a hidden interpretation to those in the know.

“As a term, ‘Aesopian language’ was first used by Russian satirist M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin in his Letters to Auntie (1881-1882), in order to designate a ‘figurative language of slavery’, an ‘ability to speak between the lines […] at a time when literature was in a state of bondage’*. As for the practice associated with this concept, it can be traced back to the Antiquity and, even when labeled differently or used purely intuitively, it has since represented one of the most efficient forms of resistance of the intellectuals against censorship – particularly under totalitarian regimes. Lenin’s hope, declared on several occasions, was that the triumph of communism should end this ‘accursed’ language; however, historical experience proved unerringly the opposite. Not only did the installation of the communist regime lead to a proliferation and an unprecedented diversification of Aesopian language in Russia, but this practice was to spread swiftly to the other East-Central European countries entering the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence after 1945. This has been frequently emphasized by the various theoretical and applied studies dedicated to Aesopian language, mainly during the two decades following the collapse of communism in Europe.”

  

Text Citation: Terian, Andrei. “The Rhetoric of Subversion: Strategies of ‘Aesopian Language’ in Romanian Literary Criticism under Late Communism,” SLOVO, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Autumn 2012), 75-95. School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 2012. For the complete text, click here.

* Lioudmila Savinitch, ‘Pragmatic Goals and Communicative Strategies in Journalistic Discourse under Censorship’, in Power without Domination: Dialogism and the Empowering Property of Communication, ed. by Eric Grillo (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2005), p. 108. 

Image Credit: Ola Vasiljeva. Jargot, 2014. Installation view at Art in General. Image courtesy the artist and Art in General. Photography: Steven Probert

“Ten minutes after death a man’s a speck of black dust. Let’s not quibble over individuals with memoriams. Forget them. Burn them all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean.” 

Image Credit: Top: Installation view of Cimetière d’Ixelles, 2013 at Art in General. Image courtesy Art in General. Photography by Steven Probert. Middle & Bottom: Jochen Lempert. Fire, 2007. 7 black and white silver gelatin photographs, 9.5 x 7 inches, Edition 5/5. Courtesy the artist and ProjecteSD, Barcelona.

Quote Citation: Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books, 1953. Print.

Fish Scales (Véritable Hollandais), (2012)

The invention of photographic process very closely aligns with the invention of mechanized forms of textile production, most notably the Jacquard loom in the first half of the nineteenth century. This loom was operated by punch cards, a binary system of zeros and ones that was an important precursor to later computer technologies. Henry Fox Talbot, working in the 1840’s thought of his experiments with positive and negative photography in much the same way, as a series of binary relationships between the presence and absence of light.   

The fabrics used to make these photograms are mechanically produced textiles from the Netherlands that mimic the handmade batiks of Indonesia and are almost entirely exported to West Africa. The fabric materializes from and is circulated within a colonial economy. Mechanical apparatuses do not simply produce, but they are, to quote Geoffery Batchen writing about the advent of computer technology, “the material expression of a certain history, the mechanical and electronic manifestation of a conceptual armature that insistently reproduces itself…”* Positive/negative, handmade/mechanical, colonizer/colonized are all binary oppositions that are constitutive of the making of this series, not just in content, but its form. 

The cloth is used as a negative placed directly on the photographic paper producing a one-to-one relationship in scale and pattern. The colors however, are inverted, as they are the negative of the source. A second exposure is made by folding the fabric over the photographic paper in another direction, yielding moiré-like patterns that repeat imperfectly throughout the series as they are folded over imperfectly by hand. Mechanically produced and theoretically infinitely reproducible patters are made unique through a hand intervening in another supposedly infinitely reproducible medium: photography.

*(Batchen, Geoffery. Each Wild Idea. MIT Press, 2000: p.174).

 

Image Captions: Top: Lisa Oppenheim. Fish Scales, Véritable Hollandais (version 7, 6, 8 & 4), 2012. Installation view at Vapours and Veils. Unique photograms, 50 x 34 inches each. Middle: Lisa Oppenheim. Fish Scales, Véritable Hollandais (version 6), 2012. Unique photograms, 50 x 34 inches each. Bottom: Lisa Oppenheim. Fish Scales, Véritable Hollandais (version 8), 2012. Unique photograms, 50 x 34 inches each.

Text Citation: Lisa Oppenheim. For more information, click here.

+1 is a new artist-run space in the heart of Chinatown.  Housed in a storefront space under the Manhattan Bridge, +1 present a series of exhibitions by The Still House Group’s permanent roster of eight artists: Alex Perweiler, Isaac Brest, Zachary Susskind, Louis Eisner, Jack Greer, Brendan Lynch, Dylan Lynch, and Nick Darmstaedter. Each exhibition is a solo presentation with a plus one – the addition of another artwork, object, or artist to the space. The latest show (in the shot above) features Dylan Lynch + Miles Huston.
+1 is located on the west side of Forsyth between Division and East Broadway. Exhibitions can be seen 24/7 through the window or by appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.artingeneral.org/

+1 is a new artist-run space in the heart of Chinatown.  Housed in a storefront space under the Manhattan Bridge, +1 present a series of exhibitions by The Still House Group’s permanent roster of eight artists: Alex Perweiler, Isaac Brest, Zachary SusskindLouis EisnerJack GreerBrendan LynchDylan Lynch, and Nick Darmstaedter. Each exhibition is a solo presentation with a plus one – the addition of another artwork, object, or artist to the space. The latest show (in the shot above) features Dylan Lynch + Miles Huston.

+1 is located on the west side of Forsyth between Division and East Broadway. Exhibitions can be seen 24/7 through the window or by appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.artingeneral.org/

Theresa Himmer for Vector: The Flora of Ural

A selection of Photos recorded at Hotel Ural, Perm, Russia 2012

Top: Hibiscus (Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis), native to East Asia

Middle: From left, among others: Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina), native to the tropics of South Asia and Northern Australia; Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum), native to the tropical regions of the Americas and Southeastern Asia; Frangipani (Plumeria), native to Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America; Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata), native to tropical West Africa; Kaffir Lily (Clivia), native to Southern Africa; Rubber Tree (Ficus Elastica), native to Northeast India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia; African Milk Tree (Euphorbia Trigona), native to Western Africa; Parlour Palm (Chamaedorea Elegans), native to Southern Mexico and Madagascar

Bottom: Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia), native to the tropical Americas

 

For the full piece in Vector, visit http://www.vector.bz/issue_03/himmer_theresa.htm

For information on Himmer’s 2012 Art in General Musee Miniscule commission “All State” visit http://artingeneral.org/exhibitions/526

In anticipation of Art in General and the Museum for African Art’s upcoming public program What Now?: Spaces of Contradiction (more information here), we’ve excerpted an interview between NY-based art critic and curator Joshua Decter and Chelsea Haines of Guernica Magazine, regarding his new collection of essays Art is a Problem.
Guernica: How did you arrive at the book’s title?
Joshua Decter: It took some time. But upon arrival, it seemed the most effective means of embodying my longstanding ambivalence about art, criticality, and other matters in a humorous, plaintive, and hopefully serious manner. I think many people have, and continue to, harbor doubts about whether art is a useful vehicle to engage with, or engender change within, broader political, economic, social, and ideological conditions, even as we struggle to reconcile this doubt with commitment and optimism. Art engenders important problems, yet it is also a problem. So why not be a bit provocative, and deploy a title that might startle some readers.
Guernica: You started your career as a critic and curator around the same time as a massive rise in interest in the relationship between art and politics. How do you see this shift being indicated in your writing over time?
Joshua Decter: I grew up resolutely middle class in Manhattan and was taken to museums and galleries by my parents, so art was always a part of my life. After college, I participated in the curatorial/critical studies component of the Whitney Independent Study Program (ISP) from 1984 to 1985, where I met artists such as Andrea Fraser, Mark Dion, and Glenn Ligon. There I engaged in a year-long one-on-one theory tutorial with Benjamin Buchloh—experiences that drove home the point that one cannot think about art outside of its embedded relationship within larger systems. And the ’80s were actually a rather contradictory period in New York, [there was] a significant expansion of venues and markets for contemporary art, as well as the emergence of various forms of art and cultural activism and politically-engaged practices. There are some relevant parallels to today’s situation. When my art criticism first started being published in the mid-’80s, part of me wanted to tear down the idols of art history, while another part maintained faith in—the illusion?—that art could be oppositional in some way.
These illusions began to fade a bit while working in my first curatorial job at an institution, PS1, in the late ’80s. A few years later, in the early ’90s, I became increasingly uncomfortable with how the work of the aforementioned generation of Institutional Critique artists—my friends and peers—seemed to have become at home within the institutions under critique. The bogeyman became the sugar daddy. These contradictions bothered me. Still do to a certain extent. So in a way, my problem with art is just how smoothly critique has been assimilated within museums and other cultural institutions. And now, how institutions have evolved into contradictory platforms. I’m conflicted, since I still want art to put pressure on conditions of economic, social, and political injustice, yet unsure about what results from that pressure. And this is not merely a theoretical dilemma—it’s also an existential question about one’s work and position in relationship to the field.
 
For a link to the full interview, please click here
More information on Decter’s book, Art is a Problem, can be found on Artbook, Amazon, and Guernica Magazine.

In anticipation of Art in General and the Museum for African Art’s upcoming public program What Now?: Spaces of Contradiction (more information here), we’ve excerpted an interview between NY-based art critic and curator Joshua Decter and Chelsea Haines of Guernica Magazine, regarding his new collection of essays Art is a Problem.

Guernica: How did you arrive at the book’s title?

Joshua Decter: It took some time. But upon arrival, it seemed the most effective means of embodying my longstanding ambivalence about art, criticality, and other matters in a humorous, plaintive, and hopefully serious manner. I think many people have, and continue to, harbor doubts about whether art is a useful vehicle to engage with, or engender change within, broader political, economic, social, and ideological conditions, even as we struggle to reconcile this doubt with commitment and optimism. Art engenders important problems, yet it is also a problem. So why not be a bit provocative, and deploy a title that might startle some readers.

Guernica: You started your career as a critic and curator around the same time as a massive rise in interest in the relationship between art and politics. How do you see this shift being indicated in your writing over time?

Joshua Decter: I grew up resolutely middle class in Manhattan and was taken to museums and galleries by my parents, so art was always a part of my life. After college, I participated in the curatorial/critical studies component of the Whitney Independent Study Program (ISP) from 1984 to 1985, where I met artists such as Andrea Fraser, Mark Dion, and Glenn Ligon. There I engaged in a year-long one-on-one theory tutorial with Benjamin Buchloh—experiences that drove home the point that one cannot think about art outside of its embedded relationship within larger systems. And the ’80s were actually a rather contradictory period in New York, [there was] a significant expansion of venues and markets for contemporary art, as well as the emergence of various forms of art and cultural activism and politically-engaged practices. There are some relevant parallels to today’s situation. When my art criticism first started being published in the mid-’80s, part of me wanted to tear down the idols of art history, while another part maintained faith in—the illusion?—that art could be oppositional in some way.

These illusions began to fade a bit while working in my first curatorial job at an institution, PS1, in the late ’80s. A few years later, in the early ’90s, I became increasingly uncomfortable with how the work of the aforementioned generation of Institutional Critique artists—my friends and peers—seemed to have become at home within the institutions under critique. The bogeyman became the sugar daddy. These contradictions bothered me. Still do to a certain extent. So in a way, my problem with art is just how smoothly critique has been assimilated within museums and other cultural institutions. And now, how institutions have evolved into contradictory platforms. I’m conflicted, since I still want art to put pressure on conditions of economic, social, and political injustice, yet unsure about what results from that pressure. And this is not merely a theoretical dilemma—it’s also an existential question about one’s work and position in relationship to the field.

 

For a link to the full interview, please click here

More information on Decter’s book, Art is a Problem, can be found on Artbook, Amazon, and Guernica Magazine.

As part of Art in General’s ongoing New Commission with the Brooklyn-based Still House Group, Brendan Lynch’s new exhibition at +1 relies on social media as a means of sharing images and identities. Somewhat cloaked, Lynch functions as a medium through which the viral becomes physical, creating a life-size cast of a woman behind an influential tumblr. Fronted by images from her site, all selected by Lynch, this exhibition exposes a lone figure using technology to reach an invisible audience.

Pictured above, Lynch’s concurrent solo exhibition at Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld’s gallery takes on similar themes of identity, this time using supermodel Kate Upton as the central figure. Lynch asked Upton a series of shoot-from-the-hip questions (the press release for the show): favorite color, TV show, cats or dogs? Her answers form the basis of the exhibition, providing an alternate view of a person who lives in infinite images. JR

For more information on +1, The Still House Group’s 2013 Art in General New Commission, click here

For information on Lynch’s exhibition at Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, click here