In recent years, the Venice Biennale in collaboration with the Venice Municipality, the Italian Ministry of Culture, and successive Directors of the Biennale itself, has been engaged in careful planning to expand, consolidate, and clarify the spatial remit of the Biennale. Their ambition, in the words of Biennale President Paolo Baratta, is to "reestablish the world primacy of [the] International Exhibition." That this so-called world primacy could ever have been in doubt is a product of the globalized expansion of the contemporary art network and the dizzying array of new, frequently progressive biennial/ triennial models, not to mention the increased dominance and ‘gravitas' of various art fairs. Notable in reviews of the last Biennale -- a much maligned staple of the rather portentously titled Grand Tour -- was a sense of ennui with the whole tired affair: unable to compete with the glitz and sheer market abandon of Art Basel 2007 in Switzerland, the Biennale lacked the discursive street cred to compete with Documenta 12 in Kassel. In these uncertain times, however, it is likely that people will warm up to the Biennale again, just as they would an old wine bar that is great because, well, it is still there (and the management just installed new lighting).
Artist Tyler Coburn has just completed an eighty day-long project titled Medium No. 1 (Manhattan)
. A commission for "In Practice," the just-ended exhibition at the Sculpture Center for eight emerging artists, the work was a meditation on the city, on technology, and on the networks of social contexts that make up Coburn’s New York-based community. The artist traversed one full Manhattan street a day, starting at 1st Street on January 1st, and ending on 82th Street on March 22nd. For most walks, he was accompanied by a friend or acquaintance with whom he would converse. Coburn recorded each walk, then faxed a daily, one-page transcript to the Sculpture Center. There it would join a long scroll of previous transcripts emerging from a thermal-roll fax machine propped on its side at the top of a plywood ramp. The Situationists believed that by drifting without direction through the city, engaging in what they termed a ‘dérive’, the artist could create a ‘psychogeography’ -- a new plan of the city and the self that would shirk off the rigid structures of planned society. Of course they had in mind the drift potential offered by French civic planner Haussmann's Paris, not New York's rigid grid-system. Coburn’s tracing of that grid is what he terms an ‘anti-dérive’, a planned walk. But, as he well knows, there remains room for unplanned drift within the conversations that occur upon the walk. I joined Coburn late on a cold and dark Thursday night at the very western reach of 71st Street. Here are the excerpted transcripts of our conversation up to our arrival at Central Park. Read More
Forty years ago the artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles wrote the Manifesto for Maintenance Art, 1969!
to promote ‘maintenance' ("sustain the change; protect progress") as an important value in contrast to the excitement of avant-garde and industrial ‘development'. One of the early lines in the manifesto reads, "The sourball of every revolution: after the revolution, who's going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning." In 1973, as part of c.7500
, Lucy Lippard's all-female traveling exhibition of conceptual artists, Ukeles performed four actions at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford Connecticut that were early important works of Institutional Critique. In 1977, Ukeles became the artist in residence at New York City's Department of Sanitation, a position she has held since. In recent years, Ukeles has been collaboratively developing plans for a park on the site of Staten Island's recently closed Fresh Kills Landfill. Here she chats about the Manifesto for Maintenance Art
with Bartholomew Ryan, whose work as an independent curator and critic has been informed recently by the history of the manifesto form.
Independent curator and critic Bartholomew Ryan interviews Nicholas Bourriaud, author of the seminal book Relational Aesthetics and curator of the fourth Tate Triennial, Altermodern, which remains on view in London at the Tate Britain through April 2009.
BR: What is the 'Altermodern?'
NB: First, it is an attempt to reexamine our present, by replacing one periodizing tool with another. After 30 years into the ‘aftershock’ of modernism and its mourning, then into the necessary post-colonial reexamination of our cultural frames, ‘Altermodern’ is a word that intends to define the specific modernity according to the specific context we live in – globalization, and its economic, political and cultural conditions. The use of the pre… Read More
Independent curator and critic Bartholomew Ryan celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Futurist Manifesto with visits to MoMA's Modern Poets series and Performa's Futurist Banquet on February 20th, 2009.
On February 20th 1909, "The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism" was published as "Le Futurisme" on the front page of the French broadsheet Le Figaro. Authored by the Futurist leader F.T. Marinetti, it created a storm in the international art community that within weeks spread across Europe to Latin America and other places. The manifesto provoked a swath of similar tracts from other avant-garde groups affirming its anti-art or art-into-life objectives, but also determined to create counter movements to protect their patch from the rampant Futurists. Celebrating hygiene, masculinity, youth, and the speed and power implicit in modernity and technology, the manifesto was a bold rejection of 19th century doctrines.