Much like Sadek’s other interventions since the proclaimed end of the Lebanese “civil war,” his allegorical sensibility throughout this interview inhabits the unnerving proximity of transitoriness and eternity. One of the fundamental questions raised by Sadek is the specific nature of an openness to a world struck by the historical violence and structural dislocations of capitalist modernity. This is because sectarianism – another of Sadek’s key themes – is both a symptom of capitalist relations and something from which the figure of the survivor emerges; sectarianism is imbued with guilt-saturated relations in the face of guiltless commodity relations that have … Read more
Monthly Archive: June 2015
SPECTERS OF COMMUNISM: CONTEMPORARY RUSSIAN ART, THE JAMES GALLERY AND E-FLUX, NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 7-MARCH 28, 2015
In 1961, Nikita Khrushchev famously announced that communism would be achieved in the Soviet Union by 1980. As a result, the nation lived in a perpetual state of the future-perfect tense, aiming for an expected or planned event that was to happen before a certain point in time. Unfortunately, Khrushchev never lived to see that day—nor did anyone else. The realization of true communism was a failure, and because it was abandoned as incomplete, its potentiality still remains, thus making it a tempting … Read more
This introduction situates the conversation between Hsieh Teh-Ching, Ai Weiwei and Xu Bing within a larger historic and socio-cultural framework, as well as elaborates a brief history of the publication in which the conversation was first published, The Black Cover Book. The text also elaborates on the unarticulated issues informing their discussion, such as their émigré status, and briefly outlines a history of the artists’ work at the time of the conversation. The work of other avant-garde artists in the Chinese diaspora whose work was published in The Black Cover Book is also touched upon briefly. This introduction reclaims some … Read more
Framed as posthumous, or that which lives on past its death, the survivor is tagged by official postwar discourses and practices an impediment to the reconstruction of society along normative guidelines. But the persistent conditions of protracted civil war in Lebanon call for a re-conceptualization of the figure of the survivor along another temporal axis. No longer posthumous, the survivor is not an over-liver who aimlessly questions the significance of his brute survival but rather a witness who knows too much, carrying the weight of an unwelcome knowledge gathered from within war and crisis that challenges the official closure of … Read more
This project chronicles the significant changes in Singapore’s natural and urban landscape. The images in this volume have been carefully selected to capture the changing face of this tropical island-state. They touch on issues of land reclamation, national boundaries, ecological changes, pollution, conservation and the ever-evolving skyline. The pictures capture an ongoing dialogue between the city’s man-made infrastructure and its natural spaces and creatures. While Singapore architecture is documented in aerial views of the country’s tallest buildings, and its ubiquitous public housing, there are also photographs the island’s wildlife.
This article discusses the ongoing pertinence to the present of Fredric Jameson’s work on postmodernism in the context of recent elaborations of “the contemporary” and “contemporaneity” in art history, theory and criticism. It is argued that, while postmodernism is fraught with contradiction and in any case irretrievable by now as a periodization of the present, it nonetheless remains crucially instructive for a fuller understanding and politicization of contemporaneity. In particular, both the nature of the relationship between culture and capital, as well as the theoretical imperative to totalize remain central to Jameson’s problematic in ways that the discourse on the … Read more
Anishinaabe Artists, of the Great Lakes? Problematizing the Exhibition of Place in Native American Art
This article discusses the relationship between Native American art and place as a curatorial strategy in the recent exhibition Before and After the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes. It is argued that while the Anishinaabe connection to the Great Lakes region as a spiritual, cultural, and epistemological center is essential to the art of the exhibition, the curators present this place as timeless and unchanging. The result is an interpretation of the Native American relationship to place that is idealized, ahistorical, and inaccurate to the tumultuous legacy of colonialism. Rather, as the art on display makes clear despite … Read more
This is a translation of a 1993 conversation involving three artists from the Chinese diaspora Hsieh Teh-Ching, Ai Weiwei and Xu Bing. Through candid dialog they tease out the motivations behind their conceptually driven artistic practices, their individual perceptions of social systems and politics, a “Western” art system from which they are marginalized, the concept “Modern art,” the Duchampian imagination, contingency, and postmodernism, etc. Their dialogue helps to situate the frame of mind of émigré artists working and living in New York in the early 1990s, with particular attention to the spiritual and social motivations behind art-making, while elaborating the … Read more
This article discusses different modes of delegation in Martin Kippenberger’s work. Drawing both on the artist’s work as a painter in post-II WW Berlin and on his performance of his own life as part of his artistic work, the article contends that Kippenberger keeps in the balance a modernist logic of art as deskilling and delegation that endorses the artist as an entrepreneur; and a postmodern position that emphasizes more performative elements in subjectivity.