– Autumn/Winter 2007
Christopher Williams: Territory Is Measured at the Borders
This text is only available to subscribers
To subscribe to Afterall journal, starting with this issue, please click here.
Alternatively, if you wish to purchase this article individually, you may do so via the University of Chicago’s website.
Chrisopher Williams. 3 White (DG's Mr. Postman), Fourth Race, Greyhound Park, Phoenix, Arizona, August 22, 1994, 1994, gelatin silver print, 27.9 x 35.6 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Gisela Papitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York
The relationship between photography as an autonomous art form and as a medium used within conceptual art practices to move away from painting, ultimately for deflationist purposes, has steadily become less and less clear in recent decades. Twenty or thirty years ago it was still relatively simple to distinguish between classical photography and 'expanded' photography - alternative practices which consistently used the form and content of the picture to refer beyond the frame of the image to another, external level of meaning.
There has been so much work exploring the transitions between concept and the idea of a 'pure' image that the two aspects are closely interwoven and often very difficult to tell apart. Defying the negative assertions of cultural pessimists, history and art history have continued to evolve in recent decades and within this historic perspective all positions and their boundaries necessarily have a dynamic character. Nowadays this may not always involve the creation of new paradigms or agendas, but it does lead to the development of new perspectives and the re-examination of old positions. As in other cases where boundaries have become problematic because they were drawn in the past - in the relationship of figurative and non-figurative painting, for example, or between the artwork and the space surrounding it - the particularly interesting artistic positions are those that explicitly address these problems of definition and make them a central element of their practice. The important thing here is that the artist works within a particular medium, while at the same time building up enough distance from this medium to show that within a dynamic historical perspective we can and should not rely on past assumptions
The beetles used in the photoshoot were death-feigning beetles.↑