Wednesday, 27 January 2010

interview with Laderman Ukeles

Mierle Laderman Ukeles with Bénédicte Ramade

Bénédicte Ramade interview with Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Department of Sanitation, New York, March 2007

Bénédicte Ramade: When you wrote the manifesto in 1969, was it in reaction against the modernist cult of the artist as a lonesome genius?
Mierle Laderman Ukeles: It was a year and a few months after my first child was born. I had struggle for many years to be an artist before I have a child. I actually became an artiste because I wanted to be free. My heroes were all male: Jackson Pollock because of his bodily freedom, Marcel Duchamp because he had the freedom to name the things, art, and Mark Rothko, because I felt that he had the freedom to move from one dimension into an other dimension. That really is the reason that I became an artist.
My paintings were very expressionistic works. Then, I had a baby. We wanted this baby. I felt out a certain picture. Because the repetitive task works I had to do to keep that baby alive. I had a huge long education in art, in international relation, very the best cause that you can find, but nobody, NOBODY, ever, taught any culture, of maintenance. Because it was not in the culture, it was excluded from the culture. You do all these repetitive works, not for yourself but works for the others. It has to do with not pursuing your own freedom but when you’re a maintenance worker, it doesn’t matter about your freedom, it matters with the person, or the city, or the building, or the anything, that the institution, or even the planet itself. The value system shifted. All those things that my all my life had been like a damn one road, it’s like a fell-off the path. And the path was western culture. I felt off, I felt out of that picture. On one hand, I , with my fancy western education, was in agony.
It also occurred to me that – it was the time of the Vietnam war – and the American lust/lost for progress. We were playing out a lot of our fantasies about power and freedom on the backs of people in other parts of the world. These issues of dependency, independence, and interdepence, those really had ended up being this big subject matter for me. And western culture that I received is about independence, that meant a male culture of autonomy where you don’t talk about all those structures that you’re dependent upon. You don’t talk about what enables you to be powerful. Because then, you sound weak.

This was of the time of the beginning of the feminist movement and the beginning of the feminist art movement which I cared about. The feminist movement was like too big for me, I did not have time, but the feminist art movement was my life, I mean it was my life like I discovered some people who were sort of in the same boat as me and who were angry as I was. I was just furious that my education let me down. I felt I was falling. And then it took like a year and a few months, I just sat down and I wrote this manifesto. I named necessity freedom.

BR: What was written in this Manifesto?
MLU: I had a few drafts. I was two pages of ideas about maintenance, about development and maintenance. And then, I made a proposal for an exhibition. The first part/floor is personal : that I would live in the museum, and the artwork would be my taking care of the museum, like washing, feeding people, sweeping, dusting. And that was art. I was saw this in the Whitney Museum. So one floor would be focusing on his personal dusting, feeding, washing the dishes. Then the second part/floor would be general : I would have interview many people : what do you do to stay alive ? Those will be posted up all over the museum. Also visitors who came to the museum, they would be interviewed. And then, the third floor, I saw, was taking care of the earth. That everyday, different kind of pollution would come into the museum. A container of one garbage truck, container of polluted air, container of polluted water. And they would be transformed by what I said were scientists and pseudo scientists by who I meant ‘artists’. What I was really saying that the museum is a place for transformation itself, that active transformation can occur in the museum itself. That’s where the culture reinvents itself. And actually, in my case, with what I was talking about, it is the culture that is going invent how we’re going to stay alive on the earth. People have misunderstood. They thought that maintenance art is about cleaning. But it was never just about that, it was about the personal, the social and taking care of the all planet.

BR: You faced the moral system?
MLU: Absolutely. That was what this revolution that I was trying to set out was about “what do you need to stay alive”. I wrote this, then I sent it to Jack Burnham who was a writer about Duchamp. So I thought “that’s the guy, he would understand what I am talking about”. I sent it to him and I got a letter back from Jack Burnham who said he was writing an article about the end of the avant-garde, he wanted to publish extra part of my manifesto in Artforum. It was 1971. He said “do you have any pictures ? ”, so I said yes. Then I hang up the phone and I said to my husband Jack “take some pictures !”. Lucy Lippart called me up. She said “are you real or did Jack Burnham make you up for that article ?” I said “I am real, it’s me !”. We met, she invited me to become part of feminist art group, that saved my life. It really did. And then she invited me to be in a show, and I started like this.
I sent also a letter to the Whitney where I wanted to do my show, I got a letter from the museum on a half piece of paper, they did not sent me a whole piece of paper, saying “try your idea on or in an art gallery first, before approaching a museum”, like slap.

BR: How did you begin to perform?
MLU: I, in New York, in this very repetitive life, trying to figure out how I am gonna do all this, I got very jealous of my work traveling. I started contacting the curators at some of the stops, “would you like me to come do a maintenance performance work ?”, they said yes, and then I started like that. Then I did about fifty/fifteen performances.

BR: Acting directly within the museum was about sincerity, the deep sincerity of your involvement ?
MLU: Absolutely. Performance as opposed to theater wants to grapple reality, or changing reality. The first work I did at the Whatsworth Museum, so I looked back now and that’s just amazing to me that they allowed me to those things. I made four works there and the idea of the four was a kind of analysis of the art institution. Also looking back now, I never pulled away from trying to reinvent the meaning of that art institution, that the first exhibition in the proposal in the manifesto would be played out in a museum, it would radically restructure the meaning of the museum.
Those are like dynamite, dangerous subjects that maintenance reveals.

BR: It was less a question of gender at least ? rather than power, and hierarchy of power in art institution ?
MLU: As a woman, I felt, specially when I became a mother, that I entered the maintenance class of women which is thousands of years old, the problem with it is that nobody invited the women class to be maintainers. No one said to these women other ten thousands years “would you like to take care of the home ?”.
For Touch Sanitation, I consciously selected those sanitation workers who at that point were all male because they were doing the female jobs for the city that the females were told “this is who you are inside”. They would say to me “you know why people hate us : because they think we are their mother !, because they think we’re their made”. I was looking at them and saying to myself “who are you telling this story to ?”. This would saying to me : if I were a woman this would be OK if the hated me.
The first performance dealt with worker and value, then the second performance dealt with “who has the key ?”, and really the keys, the guard, you don’t think of the guard so much is a maintenance worker but they are maintaining the system of power of the institution. They are guarding all these valuable things, the cultural artefacts. They are the people who are guarding them, protecting them.
Like the culture says, WE decide that this is important, this valuable, and then these people are the guardians of these objects. They are not the decision makers but they represent the decision makers. They are the visible manifestation of that power to decide and also to decide when you get in, when you stay out. What I did is that I moved to the all entire museum, room by room, gallery by gallery and I simply did what the guard could do, usually do during open hours, access hours, when anyone could come in, I locked the door. I locked people in and I also locked them out. So people got pretty upset you can imagine. They got scared.
I was invited back to the Wadsworth, they also gave me a show on the 25th anniversary of this performance work. I came, they had a lunch for me and the head of security was there and he looked at me and he says : “don’t even think about it. I don’t know why we ever let you do that before.” I just slipped through the crack. It just terrified them.
There were two other works which were much more simple maintenance works of cleaning outside, which is also has this reference to the edge between the institution and the world outside, and then cleaning inside.

BR: And the other performance was this one where you are sweeping at the entrance of the museum ?
MLU: I did it first in fact.

BR: The picture showing you cleaning with a broom became of the icon of feminist art. How do you react today about this particular picture ?
MLU: Fine!
BR: Isn’t it a reductive way to consider this performance ?
MLU: I am just not this happy cleaner. That is reduction. My intention was far, quite revolutionary. You think people read it as I am happy to do this?

BR: There is a confusion…
MLU: That’s terrible ! Why did I do for ? That is not what I am talking about.

BR: This misunderstanding about this famous picture of sweeping is amazing. People in Europe think that it is only a feminist subject.
MLU: No way ! Touch sanitation was because the female cleaners are all men ! It’s really much more critical and more revolutionary. I was talking about reorganizing the world. Not being happy with your broom. That’s a joke.
In that sense, what I was trying to deal with there was about the decision, their freedom to make a decision. This notion that people think of my work like the “happy cleaner”. I am talking about a world revolution!
back to SPEECH
posted by speech at 2:53 AM

carey young

laderman ekeles

Body Techniques (2007) is a new series of eight photographs that considers the interrelationships between art and globalized commerce. The title of the series refers to a phrase originally coined by Marcel Mauss and developed by Pierre Bourdieu as habitus, which describes how an operational context or behavior can be affected by institutions or ideologies.

Set in the vast building sites of Dubai and Sharjah’s futuristic corporate landscape, we see Carey Young alone and dressed in a suit, her actions reworking some of the classic performance-based works associated with Conceptual art, including pieces by Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Dennis Oppenheim and Valie Export. In thus recasting earlier works centered around the physicality of the body in time and space, it is ambiguous whether the artist is molding herself to the landscape or exploring ways of resisting it.

The locations for Young's photographs are a series of empty, uninhabited 'new build' developments reminiscent of Las Vegas, rising from the desert's tabula rasa aimed at bombastic luxury and spectacle and intended for thousands of incoming Western corporate executives. The architectural style is consummate ‘global village’ - a business theme park composed of swathes of multinational HQs and Italianate McVillas. These non-places could eventually compose an entire world-view: a hyperreal, corporate vision of utopia. Half-constructed backdrops are used as a 'stage' for the action, with the artist appearing as one tiny individual, overwhelmed, dislocated from, or even belittled by the corporate surroundings, while dressed up to play a role within it.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Ric Warren

Similar interests, playing with function and urban space interest in omissions and make up of urban space

ruth barker

Private thoughts in public places

Thursday, 14 January 2010

self-consciousness and self-reference:sartre and wittgenstein

Self-Consciousness and Self-Reference: Sartre and Wittgenstein
Béatrice Longuenesse 1
1 Department of Philosophy, New York University, 5 Washington Place, New York, NY 1003,

ayn rand

Pride and Prejudice
The legacy of Ayn Rand
In August 2002 Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, walked out of a US Senate committee room with cries of ‘Judas’ circling his head. Normally an oracular event, his appearance before the Senate was on this occasion characterized not so much by economic mysticism as by painful plain speaking. Greed, he told the Senators, had created fraudulent growth in financial markets, and was ‘harmful’. Such statements rarely betoken treachery unless, like Greenspan, you cut your teeth in The Collective, the 1950s New York salon hosted by the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-82), where real-life Gordon Gekkos proclaimed greed to be not just good, but the very meaning of human existence. By casting doubt on the desirability of selfishness, the FRB’s Chairman had betrayed one of the central tenets of the Randian faith.
At the centre of Rand’s work stands the idea of a super-class of individuals who are heroic, self-interested and the ultimate arbiters of value. In Anthem (1938), an early novella and singular influence on the landmark Rush album 2112 (1976), she details the struggles of one man, Equality 7-2521, against a cod-communist collective in some distant, dateless future. In one scene the protagonist is admonished for his nascent individualism, and his response provides a perfect example of Rand’s tendency to naturalize the notion of the élite: ‘There is evil in your bones, Equality 7-2521, for your body has grown beyond the body of your brothers [...] But we cannot change our bones or our bodies.’ This theme of the sparkling few versus the lumpen many crops up again and again in Rand’s novels, a reflection, perhaps, of both her background as a Russian émigrée and her formative years as a Hollywood screenwriter. (Script-writing by committee, I imagine, can only have added to her fervour for unalloyed self-hood.) Anthem was followed by the blockbusters The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), which between them have sold a staggering 20 million copies. In these Nietzschean tales of the modern übermensch, the moody architect Howard Roark and the mysterious John Galt fight the good fight against mediocrity in all its forms, from the personal to the political.
From the 1960s onwards Rand expanded this sleek individualism, a polarized version of the American dream, into several sets of ‘Objectivist’ philosophical books - including the bullishly titled The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism (1963), Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966) and Philosophy: Who Needs It? (1982) - as well as newsletters, tapes and other ephemera, published with her one-time lover Nathaniel Branden. This body of work evolved into the California-based Ayn Rand Institute, a rattling closet of skeletons headed by Rand’s ‘heir’, Leonard Peikoff. Today it is the chief guardian of Rand’s legacy, sponsoring, among other things, the Capitalism Defense Project (which provides, according to its mission statement, ‘the intellectual ammunition for capitalists to fight back’) and writing competitions for high school and university students with a hefty prize fund of $75,000 per year. Whether Peikoff’s institute is, in fact, a movement of one remains unclear, an ironic state of affairs at best, given the philosophical values at stake. Libertarianism is a powerful force in present-day American politics, but Rand’s beliefs, despite being endorsed by the right-wing policy lobbyists of the Cato Institute, remain too controversial to be adopted wholesale by a mainstream party. Then again, this is all of a piece with the Randian project - the foremost mission of those in the ‘Objectivism’ business has always been the continuous expansion of the doctrine of selfishness into areas where it either fits or splits the debate.
Determined to leave no philosophical base uncovered, Rand turned her attention to aesthetics in The Romantic Manifesto (1969). Here her belief that man is a fundamentally rational being led her to define art as a handmaiden of truth, as ‘a selective recreation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgements’. Another way to think about art, of course, is as propaganda. Rand’s works of fiction (and the meta-works made by their protagonists) are focused firmly on promulgating her ‘Objectivist’ values. The creative act, here, is also an act of teaching. John Galt’s 60-page radio broadcast-cum-manifesto in Atlas Shrugged is the most obvious example of this, but many of the more literary passages in Rand’s novels and short stories also serve as veiled affirmations of the value of the individual, the evil of the masses and the thrill of freedom. Symbols become inhabited by their maker(s), quarried granite states querulous defiance, and - most problematically - rape is reconfigured as a powerfully erotic act that affirms the independence of the ‘masterful’ rapist. But despite her tendency towards the parabolic, Rand believed, like all good Modernists, in the purity of art. This view provided her with one of her most vivid scenes. In The Fountainhead Howard Roark (a figure based, legend has it, on the architect Frank Lloyd Wright) dynamites a low-cost housing project he has designed, fearing that his enemies will pollute his vision with ‘popular’ changes. His defence, presented alone at trial, is based only on the right of the individual above all else to his own work. When one’s message is obscured, whatever bears that message is not fit to exist.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Rand’s thinking on art as propaganda was ultimately of the ‘two legs bad, four legs good’ variety. In 1947 she appeared before the anti-communist House of Un-American Activities Committee, home of the investigations that led to the blacklisting of the ‘Hollywood Ten’. Called as a friendly witness on the basis of her beliefs and her Russian heritage, Rand deconstructed the film Song of Russia (1943), railing against its (mis)representation of the USSR as a paradise of comfort, beauty and plenty. (The movie, in fact, was intentional wartime propaganda, produced by Hollywood to shore up the public’s support for America’s alliance with the Soviets.) In a nod to her long-winded literary style, Rand ran through page after page of existential reminiscences of life in Bolshevik Russia and, although she was supposedly obliged to stick to the facts, her digressions into ‘Objectivist’ philosophy brought her no reprisals. At the end of her testimony no one, not even a fresh-faced Congressman named Richard M. Nixon, had any questions.
Dan Richardson

the beauitful science - jennifer allen article frieze 115

It is helpful to view Baumgarten’s treatise as an attempt to understand a perceptual phenomenon, like double vision or déjà vu, although many continue to interpret his writings as an arcane set of rules for taking perfect photographs. Déjà vu – a kind of organic photograph – exists only through its effects on the body, which everyone can experience, albeit with different images. Elevated to a science, déjà vu would have no corpus – constant objects of study would be replaced by expanding examples – but it might be possible to define favourable conditions for its occurrence and the insights produced by it. Baumgarten’s aesthetics exists in a similar way, but applies to our every waking moment. His science is irregular, but it adheres to the truth of our experiences: art becomes a fully legitimate way of producing knowledge about the world through shared perceptions – not just a pleasurable pastime or an exercise in taste. Artists like Carsten Höller and Olafur Eliasson who reference the pure sciences would agree, but so would artists working with documentary, sculpture, film, performance or even drawing. In other words, Baumgarten’s Aesthetica is apposite for the conceptual–theoretical turn of art in the last century – a turn away from the virtues of perfected artistic techniques – that has impacted upon every medium, from painting to video installation.
According to its inventor, the discipline of aesthetics required its practitioners to communicate their ideas with others while anticipating the future. It’s easy to imagine the impact of Baumgarten’s thinking on other eras. A couple centuries before his birth, neologisms like ‘heterocosmology’ would have earned him a one-way ticket to a flaming stake. In the 19th century, his penchant for pleasing the senses would have found favour with the dandy. His ideas even seem to echo the heightened bodily experiences of the Ecstasy-fuelled raves of the last century. Baumgarten was convinced that aesthetics could invent other worlds, not related to imaginary hallucinations, but to real sensations that could be experienced – and turned into knowledge – by everybody. One can only imagine what his reactions would have been to cinematic special effects or the evolution of art from individual, pristine, untouchable objects to palpably shared experiences.

jennifer allen

Altercritics - Dan Fox

.' Although it does my blood pressure no good, I find this remarkably consistent antipathy interesting it raises a broad range of issues: elitism and populism, specialism and accessibility, models of critical authority, the responsibility of critics, what expectations there are about art’s role in British society (this is a culture that has historically preferred the literary and performing arts over the plastic ones), cultural stereotypes, money, intellectualism and anti-intellectualism. '

see more

Real Abstractions, Mark Fisher - article Frieze 125 Sep 09

Real Abstractions
The application of theory to the modern world
At a recent symposium at the University of East London devoted to dance music and theory, some dissenting journalists declared that they would much rather be ‘buffoon empiricists’ than credulous dupes of theory. This kind of dismissal of theory, by way of ostensibly plain-speaking self-deprecation, is nothing new in British culture. It’s a certain attitude that practically defines itself by its disdain for theoretical abstractions, a disdain which once informed empiricism, the philosophy with which the English-speaking world is most associated. But, precisely because it aimed to reject supposedly unprovable abstractions, the empiricism of philosophers such as George Berkeley and David Hume ended up undermining rather than ratifying the categories of given experience: Berkeley famously denied the existence of the material world itself, while Hume argued against the existence of the self. In contrast with their rarefied weirdness, buffoon empiricists see their own role as shoring up the way the world appears to us in our unreflective moments. They claim to privilege ‘evidence’, but really this is no more than a self-evident appeal to the very categories that empiricist philosophers denied: persons and (physical) things. And if only persons and physical things are real, what do buffoon empiricists think just happened in the global economy? Understanding the credit crunch and the recession demands the acknowledgement that abstractions are real.
It’s no accident that the countries which bought into neoliberalism and financialization most enthusiastically were the US and the UK. The ‘continental’ theoretical tradition that buffoon empiricism defined itself against was often guilty of the kind of intricately nebulous, reality-denying textualism of which Anglo-Saxon nominalism accused it. The type of theory that has percolated through the art world and cultural studies in recent years – a confection of diluted Postmodernism and degraded Deleuzianism, with its menagerie of vague anti-concepts such as difference, sensation and multiplicity – is not so far from buffoon empiricism. What this kind of anti-totalizing thinking shares with it is a profound hostility towards systematicity; it holds the widespread view that making any kind of determinate claim is dogmatic, oppressive, even totalitarian.
As Fredric Jameson has argued, this pick-and-mix approach to theoretical propositions has rather too close a fit with consumerism – in fact, Jameson famously goes so far as to say, it’s an expression of the ‘cultural logic of late capitalism’. What is certain is that vague rhetorics of diversity do not have the cold lucidity necessary to give an account of the real abstractions of capital. In his 1966 essay, ‘Cremonini, Painter of the Abstract’, Louis Althusser made a distinction between ‘abstract painting’ and ‘the painting of abstraction’. The painter Leonardo Cremonini, Althusser argued, managed to expose the abstractions of capital not by directly depicting them – such a thing is impossible – but by showing ‘the determinate absence which governs [us]’. As Benjamin Noys puts it in a commentary on Althusser’s essay in his forthcoming book The Persistence Of The Negative: ‘We have no image of capital, capital itself is a kind of pure relationality, a pure abstraction of value, labour, and accumulation, which can only be “seen” in negative. This is why the negation of real abstractions demands further abstraction, as abstraction is the only possible means to reveal this pure relationality which conceals itself in plain sight.’
Getting to this real abstraction entails an analysis of what I call capitalist realism. Capitalist realism – which by no means collapsed with the banks last year; on the contrary, there is no greater testament to its continuing power than the scale of the bank bail-outs – is the notion that capitalism is the only viable political-economic system. It maintains that there is an inherent relation between capitalism and reality. Capitalist realism is a kind of anti-mythical myth: in claiming to have deflated all previous myths on which societies were based, whether the divine right of kings or the Marxist concept of historical materialism, it presents its own myth, that of the free individual exercising choice. The distrust of abstractions – summarized by Margaret Thatcher’s famous denial: ‘there is no such thing as society’ – finds expression in a widespread reduction of cultural ideas and activities to psychobiography. We are invited to see the ‘inner life’ of individuals as the most authentic level of reality. Much of the appeal of reality television, for instance, consists in its seductive claim to show participants for what they ‘really are’. The media is a sea of faces that we are encouraged to feel we are on first name terms with. Feature interviews in mainstream papers and magazines are invariably structured around biographical chat and photographs. In Britain, now more than ever, artists and musicians are faced with the choice of representing themselves in this biographical way or not appearing at all. Attempts to appeal to abstract ideas alone – either in the art itself or the forces it is dealing with – are habitually greeted with a mixture of contempt and incomprehension.
This is not restricted to the tabloid press – whose outing last year of the determinedly ‘faceless’ musician Burial is only one example of its aggressive insistence upon psychobiographical reduction. The default settings of the British broadsheet press are just as dismissive of abstraction. Witness Nick Cohen’s recent fulmination against frieze’s own Dan Fox in the Observer, criticizing a blog Fox had written analysing mainstream newspaper reports of the ‘Altermodern’ exhibition at Tate Britain, London. Cohen’s article included a priceless sideswipe against ‘the type of French intellectual who makes the English wish the Channel was a thousand miles wide.’ With its guiding assumption that theory is some continental toxin for which the antidote is Anglo-Saxon common sense, Cohen’s piece was a manifesto for buffoon empiricism, making its standard complaint that theory is ‘unsupported by anything as mundane as evidence’.
But empiricism is not the same as the empirical – any worthwhile theory must account for empirical data, but, in order to do so, it cannot remain at the same level of the data it is seeking to explain. Besides, empirical facts typically have little to do with the phenomenological experience of individuals. Althusser’s description of his own theory as ‘scientific’ has been derided, not only by Anglo-Saxon nominalism but also by much post-Structural theory, which has tended to prefer poetry and discourse to the natural sciences. But Althusser’s conception of the individual subject as a product of ideology is far more scientific than buffoon empiricism’s unthinking dissemination of the concepts of persons and things. In his book Nihil Unbound (2007), which draws upon neuroscience as well as the work of ‘continental’ theorists, the philosopher Ray Brassier argues that science exposes human beings’ everyday understandings of themselves and the world around them to be banal fictions. The kind of philosophical realism that Brassier advocates has nothing to do with capitalist ‘realism’ – indeed, it has the resources to expose this so-called realism as nothing of the sort. Developing from the work of neurophilosophers such as Paul Churchland and Thomas Metzinger, who argue that all of the seemingly self-evident furniture of inner life (emotions, the self itself) are mystificatory superstitions, Brassier’s work is part of a renewed theoretical assault on a buffoon empiricist ideology that calls itself reality.
Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher is a writer and theorist based in Felixstowe, UK. His book Capitalist Realism will be published by Zero Books in November.

Spirit Guide, Dan Fox - Frieze article 128 jan 10

Spirit Guide
State of the Art
The many uses of the Zeitgeist
Everyone involved in contemporary art believes in a ghost, even if few admit to it. It’s called the Zeitgeist. Take a look around. Curators love a survey – maybe it’s a generational overview or a medium-specific temperature gauge or a set of snapshots organized along national or continental lines, or gender or sexual preferences. Critics and magazine editors chase it too: we can hang articles off it, or try and map the directions it’s been floating with entire issues (like this one). Even critics who hate contemporary art reckon on it – it allows them to use a small handful of particularly loathed examples in order to damn an entire system. Many dealers and collectors also believe in the Zeitgeist; you can sell things with it (press releases are, of course, the best place to find overblown claims to history made on behalf of artists by their representatives), or flatter yourself that you’re one step ahead by buying into someone else’s alleged intimacy with it. Market analysts believe it takes the form of numbers, and they scour the latest auction results for evidence of its mysterious ways. Artists might swear they’ve no interest in it (at least, the ones who aren’t career-obsessed egomaniacs do) but deep down in many of them rages a personal struggle with art history – otherwise known as documented collected sightings of the Zeitgeist.
Of late, the Zeitgeist has been lurking at the edges of conversation more than usual. Sometimes it’s referred to as ‘the crisis’, or more coyly – as if to acknowledge its complexity – ‘the current situation’. The economic downturn and all-out exposure of systemic avarice within major financial organizations initially generated mixed responses in the visual arts, with many talking piously, if vaguely, about ‘the crisis’ being ‘good’ for art – a bit like drinking cod liver oil or getting some fresh air. This was interpreted to mean a number of things: less silly money blowing after artists barely out of nappies; fewer low-concept/high-production spectaculars; cut-backs on lavish parties; no more galleries opening unnecessary ‘project spaces’; biennials opening every two years rather than seemingly every two weeks; fewer curators playing at being power brokers; and a halt to collectors opening narcissistic temples to their own acumen for acquisition. An upswing in thoughtful discussion and approaches to making art, and reinvigorated roles for criticism and educational institutions were forecast. Of course there would be some collateral damage; a few superfluous art consultants, dealers and artists (sadly some talented ones, as well as the careerist variety) would fall by the wayside, public funding purses would get tighter, art magazines would shrink, and there would be some facile articles in the broadsheets misinterpreting the demise of the market as heralding artists returning to their senses and making nice landscape paintings. But, on the whole, the losses would be for the greater good. A year on from the initial economic earthquake, where are we?
zeitgeist ‘So, team, how’s The Crisis going?’ zeitgeist area manager (arts division) ‘Business is slow today boss.’ zeitgeist ‘Oh that’s a shame. No seismic shifts in contemporary art production to report? No return to Enlightenment values of technical skill and transcendent moral values detected? No realization on the part of humanity that creativity is innate within them all and that its commodity role within the capitalist realist world-view is fundamentally wrong?’ zeitgeist area manager ‘’Fraid not, chief.’ zeitgeist At least tell me that Damien Hirst has retired or gone bankrupt?’ zeitgeist area manager ‘Sorry to report, captain, but in late 2009 he gained much attention for turning to painting awful pastiche Francis Bacons.’ zeitgeist ‘Bugger.’
Confusion reigns. Here’s an example: in New York at the end of October, Creative Time staged a day-long ‘summit’ at the New York Public Library on ‘Revolutions in Public Practice’, at which more than 40 speakers made presentations on art and community engagement. Less than a week later was a tongue-in-cheek but nonetheless exclusive ‘performance-based art work’ organized by Rob Pruitt as a fundraiser for the Guggenheim Musuem, White Columns and a youth arts scheme. It was an Oscars-style ceremony called the First Annual Art Awards, which included gongs for ‘Artist of the Year’ (Mary Heilmann), ‘Curator of the Year’ (Connie Butler) and ‘Exhibition Outside the United States’ (which just happened to be by an American artist: Jeff Koons at the Château de Versailles, France). I’m sure the award ceremony – a bit like the Hugo Boss or Turner Prizes, but with no pretense of gravitas ­– was way more fun than the nine hours I spent at the Creative Time Summit, but somehow the coinciding of these two events revealed the Zeitgeist to be a confused mess. There are certain sectors of the art world that crave a useful social role for art. Others see art as an activity making important contributions to intellectual discourse. Many look to art for pleasure. And then there are those who appreciate all of this seriousness, but crave the trappings of the entertainment industry too – fame, power, money, glamour, hierarchies, cultural parochialism. One year the art world is interested in this, the next year it’s interested in that. It wants to party, it wants to be scholarly. Markets go up, markets go down. At the same time as the Serpentine Gallery is showing Gustav Metzger, people are posing for photographs licking a giant chocolate facsimile of a Jeff Koons sculpture and throwing themselves on giant mounds of peanuts at the gala opening of PERFORMA 09. America elects a mildly progressive president and suddenly people scream ‘socialism’ as if the year is 1954 and Senator McCarthy is on the warpath. Everything changes and nothing changes. Feeling confused or anxious about contemporary art? Someone recently told me about a book they’d read, in which it was posited that the apocalypse happened before humans evolved and that everything humanity has done since has been in a post-apocalypse society. So don’t worry: the end has been and gone. Learn to love the confusion.
Dan Fox
Dan Fox is based in New York, USA, and is senior editor of frieze.

Peter Greenaway

The Last Supper

'The Wedding at Cana' is part of Peter Greenaway’s bold artistic project in which he intends to “visit” – with contemporary sensibility and employing cutting-edge image technology – “Nine classic paintings” among Western art history’s most renowned, from the Renaissance up to Picasso and Pollock. Launching his project with a vision of Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (2006) and then with Leonardo’s The Last Supper in Milan(2008), Greenaway now “visits” The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese at the Palladian Refectory on the San Giorgio Maggiore Island.The Wedding at Cana facsimile, set in the original architectural context for which it had been conceived – the Palladian Refectory – offers Peter Greenaway the opportunity for an innovative and original interpretation via a state-of-the-art interplay of images, lighting, music, voices and sounds that will seem to emerge directly from the painting and the walls of the Refectory. The performance – a true multimedia event lasting about 50 minutes – makes spectators relive the episode of the marriage feast at Cana where Christ accomplished his first miracle, as narrated in the Gospel of John. Greenaway points out to the public the painting’s scores of characters, from the servants preparing dishes, to the banquet guests, to the guests of honor – Jesus Christ and his mother Mary – seated at the center of the painting’s architectural composition, in an on-going crescendo culminating in the narration’s crucial moment: the miracle of water turning into wine.As with Leonardo’s The Last Supper, public will access the event in groups and at a specific time (every hour, on the hour) to share a unique and fascinating experience which – involving theater, art and moviemaking – places Peter Greenaway amongst the greatest artists who experiment unflaggingly with new means of expression for the new millennium

marina abramovic


Entering the other side

Marina Abramovic: Seven Easy Pieces Solomon R. Guggenheim MuseumNew York, New York
November 9-15, 20055 PM -12 AM

For Seven Easy Pieces Marina Abramovic reenacted five seminal performance works by her peers, dating from the 1960’s and 70’s, and two of her own, interpreting them as one would a musical score. The project confronted the fact that little documentation exists from this critical early period and one often has to rely upon testimony from witnesses or photographs that show only portions of any given performance.

The seven works were performed for seven hours each, over the course of seven consecutive days, November 9 –15, 2005 at the Guggenheim Museum, in New York City. Seven Easy Pieces examines the possibilities of representing and preserving an art form that is, by nature, ephemeral.Script and performance by Marina Abramovic, Film by Babette Mangolte HD Cam tape 5.1 sound 93 minutes © 2007

Filmmaker’s Original Statement written in February 2006

The film of Seven Easy Pieces by Marina Abramovic is about the performing body and how it affects viscerally the people who confronts it, looks at it and participates in the transcendental experience that is its primary affect. The ceremonial and meditative are the common responses to the weeklong series of performances that took place in November 2005 in the Guggenheim Museum in New York. From an art event to a social phenomenon, the seven performances became the talk of the town because it created among the visitors a sense of sublimation like prayer. The film attempts to reveal the mechanisms of this transcendental experience by just showing the performer’s body living the events inscribed in each pieces with details that outline the body fragility, versatility, tenacity and unlimited endurance.

The fascination comes from the revelation of the physical transformation of Marina Abramović’s exposed body due to the rigorous discipline of being there on display each day for seven hours without any restrictive boundaries. The relentless progress of time is revealed each day by the acoustic of the building with its waves of crowd that roll like an ocean and marvel at the performer’s steadfastness with respectful silence. That the performer’s required discipline had to be so different from one piece to the next is one of the mysteries. How the attentive audience feed into the art and Marina’s aesthetics is what is explored. It is as if a monastic urge attracted the mystic among us viewers that were there to participate. And the film, by focusing on Marina’s minute changes and strains along the long seven hours of each piece, explores in a systematic way a body without limit and increases the awareness of how participatory body art is.

The film will be 90 minutes long and follows the linearity inscribed in the week event, from body pressure, audience participation and confrontation in the first three pieces to the ceremonial in the last four pieces as mapped out by Marina Abramović. It is only after the fact that the film viewer will realize how much the project concept enlightens us on aesthetics that privileged physical experience over reason, process over iconography and testifies to the power of audience participation over passive spectatorship.Essay by Babette Mangolte.

Vito Acconci SeedbedSonnabend Gallery, New York January 15-29, 1972 Original Duration: twice a week; six hours each day
Marina Abramovic's Performance of Vito Acconci 's SeedbedSolomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York November 10, 2007 Duration: 7 hours

“Room A: Activated on Wednesday and SaturdayThe room is activated by my presence underground, underfoot – by my movement from point to point under the ramp. The goal of my activity is the production of seed – the scattering of my seedthroughout the underground area. (My aim to concentrate on my goal, to be totally enclosed within my goal.) The means to this goal is private sexual activity. (My attempt is to maintain the activity throughout the day, so that a maximum of seed is produced; my aim is to have constant contact with my body so that a maximum of seed is produced; my aim is to have constant contact with my body so that an effect from my body is carried outside.)My aids are the visitors to the gallery -- in my seclusion, I can have private Images of them, talk to myself about them: my fantasies about them can excite me, enthuse me to sustain – to resume – my private sexual activity.(The seed ‘planted’ on the floor, then, is a joint result of my performance and theirs.)” Text on panels written and posted by the artist on the gallery wall during the exhibition at Sonnabend Gallery, 1972. Robert Pincus-Witten, "Vito Acconci and the Conceptual Performance," Artforum (New York) 10, no. 8 (April 1972), p. 48.

Talk,Talk, Robert Storr - article Frieze Jan 10

Talk, Talk
View from the Bridge
The trials and tribulations of the international lecture circuit
A while ago, on a bank of hard seats under anaemic lighting, I found myself in the same airport waiting-room as Oliver North. Readers whose awareness of art history dates to the ‘Sensation’ show, and whose sense of history reaches back to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, will recall that the affable, opaque, ever ‘gung-ho’ Colonel ‘Ollie’ North was the linchpin of an arms-for-hostages scandal in which the affable, opaque, ever ‘gung-ho’ President Ronald Reagan circumvented an embargo on selling guns to Iran in order to obtain the release of American hostages in Tehran while simultaneously funding US misadventures in Central America. After giving testimony before a Senate committee, North, the uniformed bagman, became the defrocked fall guy for this inoperable ‘op’. Since then, he has made the rounds of Neo-Con lecture opportunities to pay the bills his military pension doesn’t cover.
So there ‘Ollie’ was at 5:40am, waiting for a flight to who-knows-where, to give a speech about who-knows-what, most likely followed by a rubber chicken dinner, a half-night in a motel, and another pre-dawn flight to who-knows-where-else. And there I was supplementing my museum income by taking the red-eye to a college here or an Institute of Contemporary Art there. And, in the only circumstances possible, I felt a kind of Willy Loman-like solidarity with this icon of Reaganite black-market middle-management. Strange bench-fellows indeed!
Actually, we are legion. And if the ‘have-mouth-will-travel’ circuit-riders of the cultural industry are less numerous than pundits in other fields and, on the whole, less well paid – John Waters makes a bundle but he’s a Hollywood cross-over and, like Orson Welles, finances his marginally bankable films by cameo appearances on campuses and at art-world events – then the life of the professional talker is pretty much the same, no matter what the subject or the venue.
The most dependable but generally least lucrative art world gig is as a ‘visiting artist/critic’. It usually involves showing up in a place starved of information and contact with the wider world, giving a public slide presentation, a seminar and studio critiques – interrupted by breakfast, lunch and dinner – with local faculty, patrons and eager young artists. It can be fun if one savours the eccentricities of people and places as I do, but it is gruelling nevertheless. If one does not enjoy being ‘out there’ and, worse, if one is inclined to condescend to audiences assumed to be less sophisticated than those in big cities, then things can go very wrong. I have often been in the slipstream of certified Gotham players – the scold of a major daily paper, for example, or the gadfly of a glossy weekly – and listened to tales of their inattention to the hosts and their lazy performance of an overly familiar act, usually aggravated by glibness, snarkiness or outright arrogance. Roadshow hot-shots beware! Busy boom-towners flip through what you write and fear your power; out-of-towners read it and can quiz you on what you said and derisively repeat your shtick while ignoring the clout they’re sure you’ll never use to their advantage.
Visiting artists who are welcome on the tour give good weight. Those who make a lasting impact give much more than expected. Plus, they have a sense of timing with regard to what they offer. I still remember Lynda Benglis at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, in the late 1970s ducking into virtually all of the studios after her lecture, and, a glass of Scotch in hand, spending most of the afternoon and much of the evening engaging one-on-one with every student who risked showing her their work. Nayland Blake did the same a few years later. Their insight and generosity changed lives.
Time will tell if Marina Abramovic´’s recent visit to Yale changed lives, but it should. This is a big year for the artist – a retrospective at MoMA, New York, a biography from MIT Press – though she nevertheless spent two days with students who sought her out because no formal performance curriculum exists. What they got was a full blast of her energy and a no-way-to-fake-it crash course in paying attention to mind and body. They also got to participate in a choral reading of her freshly penned ‘Artist’s Life Manifesto’, which effectively co-opted them into expressing ideals few budding artists dare proclaim in this sceptical age. It was like listening to some Utopian Youth League channel a Postmodern Ad Reinhardt. Abramovic´’s words to the wise included: ‘An artist should be erotic.’ ‘Suffering brings transformation.’ ‘An artist has to understand silence.’ ‘An artist should avoid his own art pollution.’ ‘The artist should give and receive at the same time.’ Amen to all, the last especially.
Robert Storr
Robert Storr is an artist, curator and Dean of the Yale School of Art.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Dan Graham

Galerie Meyer Kainer

Walter Niedermayr

"Pian die Fiacconi VIII"

Peter Friedl

Friday, 8 January 2010

Giorgio Agamben - Theory Out of Bounds

'The movement Plato describes as erotic anamnesis is the movement that transports the object not toward another thing or another place, but toward its own taking-place - toward the Idea.' Whatever 2,2

(Unbaptised children) ' The greatest punishment - the lack of vision of God - thus turns into a natural joy: Irremediably lost, they persist without pain in divine abandon.'2,3

'Ethics begins only when the good it revealed to consist in nothing other than a grasping of evil and when the authentic and the proper have no other content than the inauthentic and the improper....On the contrary, according to etymology of the verb patefacere, which means "to open" and is inked to spatium, truth is revealed only by giving space to a non-truth - that is, as a taking-place of the false, as an exposure of its innermost impropriety.'
Taking Place IV12,5
'every consolidation of the walls of paradise was matched by a deepening of the infernal abyss.'13,5
'The transcendent, therefor is not a supreme entity above all things; rather, the pure transcendent is the taking-place of everything.'14,5

'How can we understand the indifference of the common human form with respect to singluar humans?'17,9

'The passage from potentiality to act, from language to the word, from the common to the proper, comes about every time as a shuttling in both directions along a line of spakling alternation on which common nature and singularity, potentiality and act changes roles and interpenetrate. The being that is engendered on this line is whatever being, and the manner in which it passes from the common to the proper and from the porper to the common is called usage - or rather, ethos.'19,7

'The root of all pure joy and sadness is that the world is as it is.' 90, 1

'Non-thingness (spirituaity) means losing oneself in things, losing oneself to the point of not being able to concieve of anyting but things, and only then, in the experience of the irremediable thingness of the world, bumping into a limit, touching it. (This is the meaning of the word "exposure".)102,3

'Impotence or the power to not-be is the root of evil only in this secondary sense. Fleeing from or own impotence, or rather trying to adopt it as a weapon, we construct the malevolent power that oppresses those who show us their weakness; and failing our innermost possibility of not-being, we fall away from the only thing that makes love possible. Creation - or existence - is not the victorious struggle of a power to be against a power to not-be; it is rather the impotence of God with repsect to his own impotence, his allowing - being able to not not-be - a contingency to be. Or rather: It is the birth in God of love.' 32,3

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Raqs Media Collective

Raqs Media Collective is based in Delhi, IndiaRaqs, Sarai-CSDS, 29 Rajpur Road, Delhi 110054,

The Time Book
Installation with Telephone pole, video projections, enamel screen print on stainless steel, enamel screen prints on acrylic, digital ink-jet on galvanized steel, digital screen, clocks, fiberglass insulation, paint.
"The hours, marked by sirens, grow thin with age.The last siren is also a klaxon."(from Ceasural 1, companion of Ceasural 2, two short films in Time Book)
Every factory has a time book. The time book is an index of the value of a worker's time. It records hours, minutes and money, and acts as the memory machine of a factory.
A resurrected telephone pole curves an airy diagonal in time. Messages, once transmitted from its trunk, scatter across like busy ciphers, whispering, working. A curious ornamental creature in fiery orange shines on stainless steel, remembering an inventive steel worker's stolen leisure. Roads snake to several nowheres, perhaps passing towns called Harmony, Industry, Enterprise, Economy. Clocks stand frozen at the moment of the sounding of the last siren. A strange illumination hovers close to the ground. 'Time Book' stands poised between resilient memory and grateful amnesia.

Reverse Engineering with the Euphoria Machine

'Euphoria Machine is the name we give to the apparatus of desire and cognition that seeks to create a consensus within society for boundless energy and wealth, and effaces all doubts and dissent about the ways in which this energy and wealth must be acquired.
Crucially, the material that fuels the Euphoria Machine is desire, more specifically it is a particularly frenetic form of the quest for energy, happiness and satisfaction that overrides all other considerations. Sometime after the second World War, Edward Louis Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, a key strategist of war-time propaganda campaigns and the intellectual god-father of the advertising and public relations industry, applied a key discovery he had made during the fashioning of war propaganda to the future success of Capitalism. The discovery was this - in no other war in Human History, had wars been fought in the name of democracy, peace and prosperity. They had been fought for land, for the expansion of a particular dynasty or ruling groups power, for religious zeal and for other concretely political purposes. The propaganda campaigns of the Second World War however, successfully named a different kind of motivation for war - the desire for happiness, peace, prosperity and liberty. The identification of common virtues with the war machine proved to be a very successful motivator.
Once the war ended, Bernays realized that the same process could be replicated in 'peacetime' only this time, people must be made to realize that contributing their labour to capital, or buying goods that they did not necessarily need (in order to keep the machine of capital running) could also be done by identifying these acts with basic human drives for beauty, health, happiness, love, joy and contentment. So, people were told that they could feel a profound happiness, if they bought a shoe, or went to work in a call centre. This was a subtle but significant shift, in that it divorced a good from its function. A shoe, for instance was no longer something that covered and protected your feet, instead, it became a key to your personal well being. A job was no longer something you did to earn a living, it became a mark of your special identity as a human being. The building blocks of Capital were internalized as personal drives.
To us, this marriage between deep seated internal drives and the running of the vast impersonal network of a global economy is the secret of the 'Euphoria Machine'. It is also the material that fuels the machine. The extraction of this material both requires as well as results in the subordination of the complexity of human life-expreciences to the needs of capital.
Shown at:Chalo India, Mori Museum, Tokyo, November 22 2008 to March 15 2009National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, April 15 2009 to June 7, 2009Essl Museum, Austria, Summer 2009

Love is Engineering
'Portable Object (Plexiglass, Transparency, Drawing, Text)
This limited edition portable object fuses transparencies of mechanical drawing encased in plexiglass sheets, the clouded light of dawn and the rudimentary text of the screenplay of an imaginary film sequence to speak of the quotidian battle between love and time, fought over the delicate terms of the silent departure of a man from his lover's bed.'


Odessa/The World

Video on board work ship / video onboard cruise ship

Lize Mogel

'MIGRATION ROUTES of the Wood River Valley
A community mapping commissioned by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Idaho. Locally specific, the map shows overlapping patterns of movement and migration over time by Native Americans, mining and railroad industries, sheepherders, domestic workers, second-home owners, and wild animals. It was researched through interviews with and map-surveys by Wood River Valley residents, visitors, workers, advocates, business owners, and students. The finished map was distributed at the Center for the Arts, in schools, and at tourist centers.The outside face of the map consists of Wood River Valley residents' answer to the questions "where do you live" and "where is home"? The inside face shows historic and contemporary patterns of migration through the physical geography of the valley; where those migrating populations follow each other as the Valley's demographics and economies change; and where they come into conflict with each other (for example when residential development encroaches on seasonal wildlife migration areas.)'

Julia Mltzer & David Thorne

'In 1966, the Syrian government's Ministry of Endowments solicited plans for a building to replace a 14th-century Mamluk mosque in Martyr's Square in the center of Damascus. A young architect proposed a design for a 5-star hotel and new mosque. In 1971, his plans were scrapped. In 1982, a building began to be built. Hospital? Parking garage? Military housing? The project—now called the Basel al-Asad Center—has been the subject of much rumor and speculation. As of 2007, the building remains unfinished. In this documentary video, an architect recounts the chronicle of the building and considers its possible future.
single channel video, color, NTSC, 200717 minutesProduced by Julia Meltzer, Directed by Julia Meltzer and David ThorneWritten by David ThorneEdited by Catherine HollanderMusic and Sound Design by Chris KubickCamera by Raed SandeedThis project is distributed by Video Data Bank. '

The Institute for Infinetly Small Things - and Catherine D'Ignazio

Free Fear From the USA

A reverse shoplifting experiment to bring American fear & insecurity to Canadian bookstores. The Institute for Infinitely Small Things deposited over 40 copies of their self-published “New American Dictionary: Security/Fear Edition” into Vancouver bookstores & educational institutions.
In October 2007, the Institute for Infinitely Small Things reverse-shoplifted over 40 copies of The New American Dictionary: Security/Fear Edition into bookstores and educational institutions in Vancouver, BC.
The dictionary catalogs over 60 terms related to fear and security which have entered American English since 9/11, including new terms (”freedom fries”, “islamofascist”) and old terms which have been redefined (”torture”). The books are for free in Vancouver or on for $19.95.

Pac Murcia

Ilana Halperin

"the difficulty of falling in love during an earthquake
tramway installation shot. wood, cast iron bathtub, hidden water feature that erupts like a geyser through the drain."

"i am from new york, you are from bruxelles.we meet in the place where the tectonic plates converge.they are moving apart at a rate of 1 cm per year"

"In the North of Iceland along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, two newlyweds move into their first house. They are very excited - new house/ new life. No one tells them when they move into the house that it sits on a fault line. There is a massive volcanic eruption followed by an earthquake. Their house splits in two. Their living room has a huge gash straight through it. They are horrified - devasted. What does this mean? Their house is destroyed. Their marriage had only just begun, and the chasm running through their marital bed does not bode well for their future. They realise that actually, the house has a clean break down the middle, and instead of devastation it could be a sign for something much better. They build a new room in the space of the gap, transforrming a potentially catastrophic situation into an expanded living space. Integrating catastrophe."

Artists Statement

'My work explores the relationship between geological phenomena and daily life. Whether boiling milk in a 100 degree Celsius sulfur spring in the crater of an active volcano or celebrating my birthday with a landmass of the same age, the geologic history and environmental situation specific to the locale directly informs the direction each piece takes.
Recent projects take as a starting point a personal experience with an unexpected geological phenomenon. Increasingly interconnected events of a political, historical and everyday nature are progressively drawn together to form a narrative. Each story explores the changeable nature of landmass, using geology as a language to understand our relationship to a constantly evolving world.
To describe, in 2003 I turned 30. To mark this event, I visited the Eldfell volcano in Iceland, celebrating our simultaneous appearance in 1973. This project, entitled Nomadic Landmass, followed a chain of events including field work in Mammoth Cave, the longest cave in the world; a conversation about a crystal shard with a geologist in Glasgow; an interview with an Arctic explorer in Lapland, who later went missing en-route to the North Pole and an inexplicable connection with a German baker who lived at the foot of Eldfell.
Nomadic Landmass included photographic images taken en-route to Eldfell from the window of a small plane; drawings inspired by the Heimaey eruption; geological specimens (one of which was found at the top of the Eldfell volcano), a small book outlining the story of the project and footage of the actual 1973 eruption and evacuation of the island.
The project Emergent Landmass (a chronicle of disappearance) takes the island of Ferdinandea as its starting point, charting the history of a territory that no longer exists. In 1831, the island appeared off the southern coast of Sicily, sparking an international dispute over territorial ownership of this strategically positioned heap of young geology. Before any serious conflicts developed, the island disappeared, crumbling back into the sea. Drawings attempting to describe the perpetual formation and erosion of new landmass, a text and the only remaining mineral samples of Ferdinandea, which were taken in 1831 when it was still above water, all feature.
Whilst searching for news of Ferdinandea, I discovered an early volcanologist named Angelo Heilprin. Though he may be a distant relative, it is definite that part of Greenland holds his name.
Towards Heilprin Land
Part one, the nature of love as explained by a geoscientist.
Part two, a voyage towards Heilprin Land.

Spending time this summer with volcanologists, we discussed their long-term relationships with volcanoes from around the world. From the deck of a ship in the North Atlantic off the coast of North East Greenland, the aurora borealis fills the sky. From my porthole - icebergs, glacial walls, pack ice, which can only be likened to cracking bones.
Volcanic stories from the Smithsonian collide with polar encounters from a fragile landmass in the north in Towards Heilprin Land, a new project developed for the Sharjah Biennial 8 and a new performative lecture at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.'



Founded in 2005, AREA Chicago comprises both a biannual magazine and a series of sponsored events. Its publications and events serve the double mission of researching art, education, and activist practices within the city of Chicago and producing and strengthening networks among grassroots practitioners. In its first two and a half years, AREA Chicago has published five magazine issues and organized 50 events. AREA Chicago is dedicated to gathering and sharing information and histories about local social movements, political and cultural organizations. Through this practice, it seeks to create an independent network for organizations and individuals committed to social justice through cultural and educational practices within the city. To Learn more about AREA projects outside of Chicago see

Experimental Geography

Experimental Geography
Guest curated by Nato ThompsonOrganized by iCI (Independent Curators International) Oct. 9, 2009 - Jan. 31, 2010
Artists: Francis Alÿs, AREA Chicago, The Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), e-Xplo, Ilana Halperin, kanarinka (Catherine D'lgnazio), Julia Meltzer and David Thorne, Lize Mogel, Multiplicity, Trevor Paglen, Raqs Media Collective, Ellen Rothenberg, Spurse, Deborah Stratman, Daniel Tucker, Alex Villar, Yin Xiuzhen

Experimental Geography is an exhibition that explores the distinctions between geographical study and artistic experience of the earth, as well as the juncture where the two realms collide (and possibly make a new field altogether). The exhibition presents a panoptic view of this new practice through a wide range of mediums including interactive computer units, sound and video installations, photography, sculpture, and experimental cartography created by 19 artists or artist teams from six countries as well as the United States.
Geography benefits from the study of specific histories, sites, and memories. Every estuary, landfill, and cul-de-sac has a story to tell. The task of the geographer is to alert us to what is directly in front of us, while the task of the experimental geographer—an amalgam of scientist, artist, and explorer—is to do so in a manner that deploys aesthetics, ambiguity, poetry, and a dash of empiricism.
The manifestations of “experimental geography” (a term coined by geographer Trevor Paglen in 2002) run the gamut of contemporary art practice today: sewn cloth cities that spill out of suitcases, bus tours through water treatment centers, performers climbing up the sides of buildings, and sound art of the breaths exhaled in running Boston’s evacuation route. In the hands of contemporary artists, the study of humanity’s engagement with the earth’s surface becomes a riddle best solved in experimental fashion.
The approaches used by the artists featured in Experimental Geography range from a poetic conflation of humanity and the earth to more empirical studies of our planet. Francis Alÿs, in collaboration with Rafael Ortega, Cuauhtémoc Medina, and 500 volunteers, created a human comb to move a sand dune outside Lima, Peru. Although the actual displacement was infinitesimal, its metaphorical resonance was colossal. Creating projects that are more empirically minded, the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), a research organization, explores the nature and extent of human interaction with the earth's surface, embracing a multidisciplinary approach to fulfilling its mission. Using skill sets culled from the toolbox of geography, CLUI forces a reading of the American landscape (which includes man-made islands, submerged cities, traffic in Los Angeles, and the broadcast antennas in the San Gabriel Mountains) that refamiliarizes the viewer with the overlooked details of their everyday experience.
Nato Thompson is a curator at Creative Time, as well as a writer and activist. Among his public projects for Creative Time are Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, a project by Paul Chan in collaboration with The Classical Theatre of Harlem, and Democracy in America: The National Campaign. Thompson was formerly a curator at MASS MoCA, where his exhibitions included The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere and Ahistoric Occasion: Artists Making History.
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue co-published by iCI and Melville House Publishing. The catalogue includes essays by Nato Thompson, art historian Jeffrey Kastner, and artist Trevor Paglen; artist’s statements; and brief texts on forms of artistic practice.
Experimental Geography is a traveling exhibition organized and circulated by iCI (Independent Curators International), New York. The exhibition, tour, and catalogue are made possible, in part, by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the iCI Advocates, the iCI Partners, Gerrit L. and Sydie Lansing, and Barbara and John Robinson.