Monday, March 18, 2013
Conveyor Belt (1964)
Yesterday, while clicking through those pricey emails from e-flux, I came upon Guggenheim Abu Dhabi's May 2013 public programme, which will include works by El Anatsui, Chant Avedissian, Feng Mengbo, Youssef Nabil and James Rosenquist.
The lone work by Rosenquist, Conveyor Belt (1964), is a curious choice, particularly in light of GulfLabor's boycott of the Guggenheim over the foundation's treatment of workers hired to build its Abu Dhabi museum.
In the Fall 1965 issue of the Partisan Review, Rosenquist is interviewed by Gene Swenson. Swenson begins by asking the artist about the U.S. Air Force's latest killing machine, the F-111, and the conversation turns to art and technology (though Swenson's "hole" card is Ethics).
Rosenquist's use of the conveyor belt analogy is revealing:
"The way technology appears to me now is that to take a stance -- in painting, for example -- on some human qualities seems to be taking a stance on a conveyor belt: the minute you take a position on a question or an idea, then the acceleration of technology, plus other things [my italics], will in short time already have moved you down the conveyor belt. The painting is like a sacrifice from my side of the idea to the other side of society."