Monday, October 15, 2012


The image from yesterday's post was taken from the VIVO website, where the artists behind the sign, as it were, have been in-residence while attending/participating in this past weekend's Institutions by Artists conference (and festival). Yesterday the artists (Brad Butler and Karen Mirza) presented their project/practice, and I have to say, I was impressed -- not only with the content of their work (a clear-headed recognition of glocal systems and an ability to register them beyond the decoration of social space), but in the care they took to convey it.

Too many of the IbyA talks were poorly presented and, in many cases, wildly off-topic. While I am generally open to improvisation and formal transgression (thank you Tania Bruguera for resisting the "Oxford-style" format of the "Should Artists Professionalize?" debate), I have little patience for presenters indifferent to their ass-taxed audience, or those who believe a recitation of their c.v. will suffice.

A.A. Bronson is a case in point. Enlisted to give the keynote address, the senior Bronson delivered what amounted to an artist-talk (and a fine one at that). Most unfortunate was that he talked through -- and beyond -- his Q&A allotment, which resulted in his insertion in the following session's Q&A, where audience members had a chance to ask Anton Vidokle and Peline Tan about their "future institutions by artists" video, a commission by the conference entitled 2084. Yes, we had some of that -- but the ostensibly open (and inclusive) call these relatively younger cultural workers extended in relation to Bronson's me-first pronouncements made visible a greater problem, one that might explain, in part, why some younger artists are ambivalent to artist-run culture. I am speaking here of a perception that exists of certain artists of Bronson's generation, who, though historically important to the development of this culture (and indeed have given their lives to it), carry on as if entitled to more and more time and space. If we accept this proposition in light of the many comments we heard about artist-run activities existing as much in a temporal realm as a spatial one (ad hoc, situational, etc.), particularly with respect to an emerging generation of artists who have grown up with(in) the savagery of the market state, then we have yet another question that needs to be addressed.

Oddly enough, it was another topic-indifferent talk by artist Dirk Fleischmann that brought to mind questions about the internet as an inadvertent institution, a topic that Artforum made so much of (as a future projection) in its 50th anniversary (September, 2012) issue, and another system younger artists have grown up with. As Flesichmann neared the end of his slow but steady power-point presentation of his carbon credits project, he spoke of his "failure" to present this sophisticated and environmentally relevant work within the standard gallery format. What he did not mention, however, was how the internet might indeed be the best way to make this work available, and as such what role might the internet play in an artist-run culture that appears to be moving closer to the unmoored, nomadic collectivity of individuals than the bricks-and-mortar gallery spaces Bronson helped to build?

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