– Autumn/Winter 2010

Events, Works, Exhibitions

Another Criterion… or, What Is the Attitude of a Work in the Relations of Production of Its Time?

Marion van Osten

I just wanted to do it and get it over with so I could go home and watch TV.

- Frank Stella1

The editors of Afterall have asked me to reflect on an article titled 'Producing Publics - Making Worlds! On the Relationship between the Art Public and the Counter-public', a consideration of art and curatorial practices of the 1990s that I originally gave as a lecture in the context of 'Never Look Back', an event at the Shedhalle Zurich in 2000. This text has been published over the last decade in a variety of adaptations and translations.2 Even though the published versions differ considerably, the impetus behind their central arguments remains the same: the methodological shifts of feminist and collective artistic practices of the late 1990s, which in my opinion constituted new forms of publics or publicness. Specifically, I referred to what I have called the 'project exhibition', a practice combining artistic, curatorial and discursive practices that I posited as distinct from thematic or curated art shows, in which artworks are selected in relation to a specific topic or issue. Project exhibitions, as well as other forms of exhibition-making by artists and cultural producers, established a counter-model to conventional group and solo show formats. On the one hand, exhibition-making as an artistic practice belongs to a long tradition that has it roots in the modern avant-gardes' critique of the museum's institutional order and the selecting processes of juries, boards and curators. On the other, it relates to the expansionist mode of artistic practice itself, as a result of which the gallery space is used as a

  1. Quoted in Caroline A. Jones, Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1996, p.121.

  2. First in the international feminist art journal n.paradoxa, edited by Katy Deepwell in 2001 ('If White Is Just a Color, the Gallery Is Just a Sight?', issue 15, July 2001, pp.46-51), and subsequently in the Swiss feminist periodical Olympe, guest-edited by Ursula Biemann and myself in 2003 ('Dispersion: Kunstpraktiken und ihre Vernetzungen', issue 19, December, 2003, pp.59-72); in Compléments de Multitudes 15, guest-edited by Brian Holmes in 2004 ('art contemporain: la recherche du dehors', issue 15, Winter 2004, pp.239-49); in Critical Readers in Visual Cultures: In the Place of the Public Sphere, edited by Simon Sheikh ('A Question of Attitude', issue 5, 2005, Copenhagen and Berlin: Øjeblikket and b_books, pp.142-66); in Architecture and Participation, edited by Peter Blundell Jones, Doina Petrescu and Jeremy Till (Oxon: Spon Press, 2004, pp.201-10); in the Publicum: Theorien der Öffentlichkeit reader, edited by Gerald Raunig and Ulf Wuggenig in 2005 (Vienna: Verlag Turia + Kant, pp.124-39); and last but not least in the Curating Critique reader, guest-edited by Dorothee Richter, Barnaby Drabble and Marianne Eigenherr (ed.) in 2007 (Frankfurt a.M.: Revolver, pp.230-45, 246-61).

  3. See Brian O'Doherty, Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, San Francisco: The Lapis Press, 1986.

  4. See Reesa Greenberg, Bruce W. Ferguson and Sandy Nairne (ed.), Thinking About Exhibitions, London and New York: Routledge, 1996.

  5. See Brigitta Kuster, 'Sous les yeux vigilants/Under the Watchful Eyes: On the international colonial exhibition in Paris 1931', 2007, available at http://eipcp.net/transversal/1007/kuster/en (last accessed on 29 June 2010).

  6. A.I.R. (Artists in Residence, Inc.) was the first women's cooperative gallery in the US, founded in 1972 as a response to the resistance of the art world to art made by women. It is a non-profit organisation supported and run by its membership: twenty New York artist-members and fifteen affiliate-members from around the country. See http://www.artseensoho.com/Art/AIR/air.html (last accessed on 29 June 2010).

  7. See, for example, Julie Ault (ed.), Alternative Art New York, 1965-1985, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002. Or another volume edited by J. Ault on Group Material, Show and Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material, London: Four Corners Books, 2010.

  8. From 1996 to 1998 I worked in a changing team (Sylvia Kafhesy, Renate Lorenz, Rachel Mader, Brigitta Kuster, Pauline Boudry, Justin Hoffmann and Ursula Biemann) as an exhibition curator at the Shedhalle Zurich, a venue which can be considered a paradigmatic space for this type of practice. See Shedhalle Zürich (various authors), Jahresberichte 1994-98, Zürich: Verlag der Shedhalle Zürich, 1994-98 and Ursula Biemann and Marion von Osten (ed.), 'Dispersion, Kunstpraktiken und ihre Vernetzungen', in Olympe, Feministische Arbeitshefte zur Politik, no.19, 2003.

  9. See Nina Möntmann, Kunst als sozialer Raum, Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2003, and in e-flux journal '(Under)Privileged Spaces: On Martha Rosler's "If You Lived Here…"', issue 98, October 2009, also available at http://www.e-flux.com/journal/view/89 (last accessed on 13 July 2010).

  10. See Miwon Kwon, 'Ortungen und Entortungen der Community', in Christian Meyer and Mathias Poledna (ed.), Sharawadgi, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 1999, p.214; and One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 2002, pp.154-55

  11. Quoted from kleines postfordistisches Drama/kpD, 'Prekarisierung von KulturproduzentInnen und das ausbleibende' gute Leben', Arranca!, no.32, Summer 2005, pp.23-25. KpD are Brigitta Kuster, Isabell Lorey, Katja Reichard and Marion von Osten.

  12. See Beatrice von Bismarck, 'Kuratorisches Handeln. Immaterielle Arbeit zwischen Kunst und Managementmodellen', in M. von Osten (ed.), Norm der Abweichung, Vienna and Zurich: Springer, 2003, pp.81-98. See also M. von Osten, 'Fight Back the Determinator', in Christian Kravagna (ed.), AGENDA: Perspektiven Kritischer Kunst, Bozen and Vienna: Folio Verlag, 2000, pp.23-41.

  13. See Leo Steinberg, 'Other Criteria', Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1972, pp.55-91.

  14. The exhibition 'Work Ethic' was shown at the Baltimore Museum of Art from 12 October 2003 to 4 January 2004, at the Des Moines Art Center from 15 May to 1 August 2004 and the Wexner Center for the Arts from 18 September 2004 to 2 January 2005. See Helen Molesworth (ed.), Work Ethic (exh. cat.), University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2003.

  15. See Gerald Raunig and Ulf Wuggenig (ed.), Kritik der KreativitaÅNt, Vienna: Verlag Turia + Kant, 2006; and Geert Loving and Ned Rossiter (ed.), My Creativity, Amsterdam: Institute for Network Cultures, 2008.

  16. See M. von Osten, Norm der Abweichung, Vienna and Zurich: Springer and Voldemeer, 2003.

  17. See Diedrich Diederichsen, Eigenblutdoping, Selbstverwertung, Künstlerromantik, Partizipation, Cologne: KiWi, 2008.

  18. See Brian Holmes and Marina Vishmidt in conversation with M. von Osten in 'Atelier Europa, Conversations, Kunstverein Munich', 2004, available on www.ateliereuropa.com (last accessed on 7 July 2010); Anthony Davies and Simon Ford, 'Art Futures', Art Monthly, no.223, February 1999; Isabell Lorey, 'Vom immanenten Widerspruch zur hegemonialen Funktion: Biopolitische GouvernementalitaÅNt und Selbst-Prekarisierung von KulturproduzentInnen', in G. Raunig and U. Wuggenig (ed.), Kritik der KreativitaÅNt, op. cit., pp.121-36.

  19. See Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2000; and Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2004.

  20. For further discussion of this, see Marianne Pieper (ed.), Empire und die biopolitische Wende: Die internationale Diskussion im Anschluss an Hardt und Negri, Frankfurt a.M.: Campus, 2007, and Justin Hoffmann and M. von Osten (ed.), Das Phantom sucht seinen Mörder: Ein Reader zur Kulturalisierung der Ökonomie, Berlin:

  21. See Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism (trans. Gregory Elliott), London and New York: Verso, 2005.

  22. See Sabeth Buchmann, Denken gegen das Denken: Produktion - Technologie - Subjektivität bei Sol LeWitt, Hélio Oiticica und Yvonne Rainer, Berlin: Polypen, 2007.

  23. See M. von Osten, 'Irene ist Viele: Oder was die Produktivkräfte genannt wird', in Thomas Atzert, Serhat Karakayali, Marianne Pieper and Vassilis Tsianos (ed.), Empire und die biopolitische Wende, Frankfurt a.M.: Campus, 2007. English version available at http://e-flux.com/journal/view/83 (last accessed on 3 August 2010).

  24. See T. Atzert (ed.), Umherschweifende Produzenten: Immaterielle Arbeit und Subversion, Berlin: ID-Verlag, 1998.

  25. For a discussion of these trends, see Atelier Europa, Kunstverein München, Munich, 2004, initiated by Marion von Osten and Angela McRobbie. For a discussion of these trends, see http://www.ateliereuropa. com (last accessed on 29 June 2010).

  26. See A. McRobbie, 'Everyone is Creative?', in Tony Bennett and Elizabeth B. Silva (ed.), Contemporary Culture and Everyday Life, Durham: The Sociology Press, 2004, pp.186-99; A. McRobbie, 'From Holloway to Hollywood: Happiness at Work', in Paul Du Gay and Mike Pryke (ed.), Cultural Economy, London: SAGE, 2002, pp.97-114.

  27. See M. von Osten and Peter Spillmann (ed.), Be Creative! Der kreative Imperativ!, exhibition leaflet, Zurich: Edition Museum für Gestaltung, 2002; see as well www.k3000.ch/becreative (last accessed on 4 July 2010).

  28. See Nikolas Rose, 'The Death of the Social? Re-figuring the Territory of Government', in Roger Cotterrell (ed.), Law in Social Theory, Farnham: Ashgate, 2006, pp.395-424.

  29. 'Be Creative! Der kreative Imperativ', Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich, 2003. Initiated by M. von Osten and B. von Bismarck, see http://www.k3000.ch/becreative (last accessed on 29 June 2010).

  30. See Nicos Poulantzas, State, Power, Socialism (trans. Patrick Camiller), London: NLB, 1978.

  31. For example, MoneyNations (1998-2000) or Transit Migration (2003-06) resulted in different communities during their development processes; the same was true of the related forms of communication. MoneyNations communicated with cultural producers from Central and Southern Europe by way of the internet and personal contacts. On that basis, it generated not only an exhibition - in the more classical sense - about discourses on EU border production and border-crossing, but also a whole series of other activities. These included a conference in which artists, film-makers and political initiatives from south-eastern Europe participated, a seminar with radio producers from ex-Yugoslavia, a video producers' network and, most significantly, a mailing list which facilitated the active exchange of information between anti-racist projects, events and initiatives for more than four years. A kind of supranational community of artists, scholars and political activists thus emerged from the project. See: http://www.moneynations.ch or http://www.transitmigration.org (last accessed on 13 July 2010).

  32. See Walter Mignolo, 'Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and De-Colonial Freedom', Theory, Culture, and Society, vol.26, no.7-8, 2009, pp.1-23.

  33. See also Paolo Virno, 'Das Öffentlichsein des Intellekts. Nichtstaatliche Öffentlichkeit und Multitude', in G. Raunig and U. Wuggenig (ed.), Publicum, op. cit., pp.124-39.

  34. The concept of 'ground for possibilities' has been introduced by J.K. Gibson-Graham in A Postcapitalist Politics, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

  35. See Tony Bennett, The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics, London and New York: Routledge, 1995.

  36. Walter Benjamin, 'The Author as Producer', Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (ed. Peter Demetz, trans. Edmund Jephcott), New York: Schocken Books, 1986, pp.220-38.

  37. See Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

  38. This essay forms part of Afterall's collaboration with FORMER WEST, a long-term international research, education, publishing and exhibition project that aims to reflect upon the changes introduced to the world (and thus to the so-called West) by the political, cultural, artistic and economic events of 1989. This series of texts, commissioned by Afterall's editors, will develop lines of investigation and areas of interest that emerge throughout the project. FORMER WEST is realised through the partnership of BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht with the following co-organisers: Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; and associate partners of the Centre for the Humanities, Utrecht University, Utrecht; the International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA), Amsterdam; and Afterall Journal and Books, London. The main part of the project, which will result in a major exhibition and publication in 2013, will be realised through an extended partnership consisting of BAK, Afterall, Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, and Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, with additional associate partners.