It is not just one of the issues, it is the issue of current art schools and their politics: artistic research. But what is artistic research really about and what does it mean for contemporary art? All too often, weight is given to the academic aspect and the artistic part is overshadowed. The more interesting question is how art knows: how artistic thinking develops through artistic processes and takes shape in artworks.
In twenty conversations with leading artists—Lawrence Abu Hamdan , Katayon Arian, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Sher Doruff, Em’kal Eyongakpa, Ryan Gander, Liam Gillick, Natasha Ginwala, Sky Hopinka, Manuela Infante, Euridice Zaituna Kala, Grada Kilomba, Sarat Maharaj, Emma Moore, Rabih Mroué, Christian Nyampeta, Yuri Pattison, Falke Pisano, Sarah Rifky, Samson Young, and Katarina Zdjelar—Cotter maps out an epistemology of artistic creation today. She manifests a type of research that is dynamically engaged with other fields, but thinks beyond concepts into bodily and material knowledge that exceeds language, revolutionizing our perception of art from the ground up.*
Studio Teatrgaleria artistic director Natalia Korczakowska—keeping Poland’s avant-garde alive amidst a nationalist threat—has adapted and staged the writings of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz to exhilarating end in WITKACY/TWO-HEADED CALF, a performance art-theater piece now in its second week at Redcat.
Shaped with delicacy, precision, and waves of comedic velocity, this hallucinatory family satire brings together a brilliant band of Polish actors with a group of young American players associated with the CalArts Center for New Performance., whose associate artistic director, Amanda Shank, will join Korczakowska tomorrow night for a pre-show conversation about the project.
I have always been sympathetic to so-called minimal art. That does not keep me from criticizing its determined aloofness, which, of course, was also one of its greatest strengths. As to the implied incompatibility between a political statement/information and a work of art, I don’t think there are generally accepted criteria for what constitutes a work of art. At least since Duchamp and the constructivists, this has been a moving target…
Contrary to popular belief, eagles are really not courageous birds; they are even afraid of bicycles, as [Marcel] Broodthaers wrote. Their power is due to projection. The same is true for art—and political power. They need the red carpet, the gold frame, the aura of the office/museum—the paraphernalia of a seeming immortality and divine origin… It is important that the Thatcher painting is an oil painting. Acrylic paint doesn’t have an aura… Another reason for making a painting was that I had been stamped a conceptualist, a photomontagist, that sort of thing. This was a way to mess up the labels…
It is true that I often play on the modes of the contemporary art world, and I try to make something that is accessible to a larger public, which does not care for the histrionics of the art world. As Douglas [Crimp] pointed out, it helps that these pieces do not have the look of hermetic “avant-garde” art…
Where the Left is sometimes unnecessarily vulnerable is in its tendency to make mechanical attributions of ideology. In that respect, it mirrors the Right. We should recognize that things need to be evaluated within their respective historical contexts. Taken out of context, they are likely to be misread and can play the opposite role from that of their original settings… If I had been too concerned about co-optation, I would probably not have been able to do the things I’ve done. It can have a paralyzing effect. I saw this with some colleagues and students in the ’60s and ’70s. They either stopped working altogether or went through tremendous personal crisis, from which some eventually emerged as cynical entrepreneurs. In either case, it amounted to a capitulation to the powers that be. It takes stamina and shrewdness to survive in this mess… We just have to reconcile ourselves to the historical contingency of things. Otherwise, we fall into the idealist trap of believing in universal meanings and values. — Hans Haacke*
On the occasion of the New Museum exhibition HANS HAACKE—ALL CONNECTED—the artist’s first major institutional show in the United States since Hans Haacke—Unfinished Business (1986–1987), also at the New Museum—join Haacke and co-curators Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari for a public conversation.
*Yve-Alain Bois, Douglas Crimp, and Rosalind Krauss, “A Conversation with Hans Haacke,” October 30 (Autumn 1984): 22–48; reprinted in October: The First Decade, 1976–1986, edited by Annette Michelson, Krauss, Crimp, and Joan Copjec (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), 175–200.
Morris Engel’s unreleased film I NEED A RIDE TO CALIFORNIA—which he started filming in 1968—will screen this week at MOMA, followed by a conversation with Anne Morra, Mary Engel—director of Orkin/Engel Filmand Photo Archive—and Jake Perlin, artistic and programming director at the Metrograph.
Inspired by day-glo psychedelia, societal upheaval, and sexual liberation, Engel crafts the story of Lilly, a naïve, lonely young Californian who finds herself in New York City. Lilly embraces the flower child movement, right down to the bare feet and a ring of daisies in her blond hair. But the city, and Lilly’s circle of acquaintances, are not as compassionate as she hoped they would be. I NEED A RIDE TO CALIFORNIA is a complex, sometimes raw portrait of the era, with Lilly as a fragile voyager in Greenwich Village’s tempestuous counter culture scene. While Engel’s prior feature films explored idyllic, nostalgic moments shared by children, I NEED A RIDE TO CALIFORNIA marks his mature aesthetic engagement with the unsettled social and political landscape of American in the late 1960s.*
I was fascinated by the interchange of the positive-negative aspect of [Mondrian’s] paintings with no background. I was thrilled to think that if I could liberate this quality which he confined to the rectangle into a free form, that I would be able to express the endless space. — Leon Polk Smith, 1966
Carrying a polyvalence of codes across multiple frames of meaning and structure, the canvas paintings of Leon Polk Smith—who was born in 1906 on Native American land in Oklahoma and lived in New York City from 1936 until his death sixty years later*—continue to support what Roberta Smith once called a “slightly unhinged optimism.”
The Richard Gray exhibition LEON POLK SMITH—ENDLESS SPACE brings together work from the artist’s Correspondence and Constellationseries, and is accompanied by a catalog featuring an essay by Jonathan David Katz.**