An ongoing annotated group bibliography maintained by the PSU Social Practice MFA program related to art and social practice.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Experiments in the Everyday: Allan Kaprow and Robert Watts – Events, Objects, Documents

I was revising my ongoing annotated bibliography tonight and came across this book I read last year, Experiments in the Everyday: Allan Kaprow and Robert Watts – Events, Objects, Documents. Notes and quotes as follows:

“One can imagine an audience environment where the audience becomes the sole activator and responds to itself". –Robert Watts

“One could thus argue that Watt’s heightened sense of the necessity to make the viewer activity participate in the event structure of the work- even if only in the banal and benign forms of social exchange and public communication resulted first of all from insight into the consequences of collectively enforced consumption.”(Buchloh 1999, 17-18)

“By Contrast, the Fluxus artists recognized the commodity form as historically insurmountable, as a failed utopia whose sole, if any, dimension of promise would remain its intrinsically egalitarian element and its potential to establish a competence of object relations, in lieu of a linguistic or political competence of political self-determination. Thus the relationships of Fluxus to commodity culture are both mimetic and polemical, performing gags on the totality of reification and enacting farces with minimally redeeming functions.”((Buchloh 1999, 22)

Similarly relational aesthetics criticizes commodity culture, especially the commodification of human interaction.

“Schapiro’s social philosophy of art has two significant implications for the theory of modern art that, years later, he would reconfigure into a theory of the avant-garde. Kaprow, in turn, would later complicate Schapiro’s theory in his conception of happenings. First, an artist’s egotistic obsession with the purely aesthetic, pursued in the privacy of his studio, is a product of capitalism’s economic, political, and class-based ideology of the “private.” The artist’s “ego,” then, is not his own- by pursuing what capitalism in its most advanced andexpanded form has rendered “archaic”: individual handicraft.” (Haywood 1999, 28)

In a revolutionary call-to-arms, Schapiro pleaded for artists to aquire the “courage” to act on and “change” society by redirecting their concerns to “the world around them, its action and conflict” (my emphasis). Artists turning to the world would see that the system requiring “impoverished masses and oppressed minorities” was the same system that produced an art “committed to the aesthetic movements of life, to spectacles designed for passive, detached individuals” as well as “an art of the studio” (my emphasis).” (Haywood 1999, 29-30)

“…a dramatic enactment of an often minimal and hughly ascetic totality of sounds, texts, gestures, and objects, which George Brecht had defined as an “event.”(Buchloh 1999, 11)

“Rather, the need was for ‘the extension of the museum… as a force for innovations lying outside of its physical limits.’ A contemporary museum, therefore, might well serve as an ‘agency for action.’” (Haywood 1999, 42)

“If, as Jeff Wall has suggested, the photograph ‘shows its subject by means of showing what experience is like; in that sense provides ‘an experience of experience,’’” (Rodenbeck 1999, 64)

“I had gone to John Cage’s class and asked, “How the hell do you get people to do this silly stuff?” So he told me about me about his early beginning with chance music. “You have to begin with friends,” he said. “Get the people that you like and like you.”(Kaprow 1999, 69)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Journal of Aesthetics & Protest

Preview here

This is the sixth issue of Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, titled Theory in 3 Acts: I Love To We, Antiwar Survey Respondents, and Another Theory Section. I ordered this and it's on its way. Amy Franceschini, Fritz Haeg, Ben Schaafsma and Andrew Boyd are among the contributers. All issues are viewable/readable for free on-line.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Subversive Imagination

This book is full of SO MANY amazing essays. Herbert Marcuse and the Subversive Potential of Art by Carol Becker totally affected me when I read it years ago. I even remember where I was when I read it (in the chair in the corner of my room in Halifax). As I was reading, I was listening to Destroyer's album, Theif (forget which song), and he was singing about the exact same stuff! I will never forget how much my mind got blown by that combo. I will try to find those lyrics...

Ha, Ha, Ha

I know this is not explicitly social-practicy, but I think it touches on a lot of the same vibes. For the most part it is really weird (actually NOT funny), to read about jokes. However, there is some great stuff, including Dave Hickey's statement about how allowing art to be 'bad, silly and frivolous' is liberating. A lot of amazing artists are featured, including Hamza Walker who is on his way to PMMNLS to lecture on Dec 1.

Here's what the back says:
Ever since the Dadaists, humour in one or more of its guises - absurd, ironic, tragi-comic, mordant, gothically dark, deadpan, camp or kitsch - has frequently surfaced as a subversive, troubling or liberating element in art. This anthology traces humour's role in transforming the practice and experience of art from the early twentieth-century avant-gardes, through Fluxus and Pop, to the diverse, often uncategorizable works of some of the most influential artists today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Failure!: Experiments in Aesthetic and Social Practices!

Failure!: Experiments in Aesthetics and Social Practices

Edited by Nicole Antebi, Colin Dickey, and Robby Herst

The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press presents this book. It's a new collection of essays, interviews and artwork that together offer a minor history of failure. Tracing the idea of failure through contemporary art, activism and social protest movements, literature and philosophy, the work in Failure! cuts against a notion of forward progress by instead exploring various dead-ends on the timeline of history. Failure! gives us ways to map our lives in relationship to improper paths.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Group Work

Co-written and edited by the three current members of the art group Temporary Services, Group Work is a thorough investigation of groups of artists, activists and musicians in the form of interviews and short profiles. Temporary Services interviews the band The Ex, Pedro Bell from the band Funkadelic, AA Bronson from General Idea, ex-members of Political Art Documentation/Distribution, and current members of the groups Haha, Wochenklausur, and What, How and For Whom, asking questions specific to artists who work in groups. Each interview is prefaced by a brief introduction to the group’s history, major events and shows, and current status, and gives context on who is being interviewed and why. -Katy Asher

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

With Love From Haha: Essays And Notes On A Collective Practice

With Love From Haha: Essays And Notes On A Collective Practice
Edited by Wendy Jacob, Laurie Palmer, and John Ploof
Chicago: WhiteWalls. 2008

I just told Katy about this book the other day.

I thought you all might be interested as well. It is available through Temporary Services press, Half Letter Press.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
by Clay Shirky

This has been on my list of things to read for sometime now.

Art As Experience

Art As Experience
By John Dewey

This is an oldie, but a goodie.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

what we want is free

has everyone read this already?
the memorable essay for me is - "Lunch Hour: Art, community, administrated space and unproductive activity" by Kate Fowle and Lars Bang Larsen

collectivism after modernism

okay, so i've only read two chapters of this book.
but they were gooooood chapters.

conversation pieces

i would really like it if some folks wanted to book club this one.
it certainly is a conversation piece.

from studio to situation

another exciting book.
essays on artists working outside of the gallery.
features on Rod Dickinson, Aleksandra Mir, Nathan Coley and Jeremy Deller
check it out!!!!

life once more

this book has been in my collection for a while.
i have temporarily lent it to hannah,
but if anyone else is interested in repetition, reenactment, etc, i recommend it!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Everyday

The Everyday (Documents of Contemporary Art)
by Stephen Johnstone (Editor)

This book is one in a great series of books published by Whitechapel and MIT press. This one on The Everyday is a nice one if you enjoyed The Everyday Life Reader.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Imagined Communities

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism

This was the book I brought up during the group meeting yesterday in relation to some of the ideas Helen was thinking of. Private experiences, that are also shared experiences, and how that can form identities and relationships.

Here is an excerpt of a review of the book:

Historiography at its most Captivating, August 23, 2001
By Tanja Laden

Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson seeks to explain the seeds of what he terms "imagined communities," which are for the most part "nations". It is also a careful chronological account of how these seeds grew into actual policies through the breaking apart of the Latin language, the dissemination of mass-media into new ideas of national history, and ultimately how history and language served to preserve national identity. In the first chapter, "Cultural Roots," Anderson claims that the birth of the imagined community is directly linked to Industrialization and its two byproducts, the novel and the newspaper. The novel and the newspaper first made the public aware of simultaneous experiences that allowed them to conceive of themselves as not alone, but rather an entity that worked together. The concept of time as a linear, progressive notion was another result of Industrialization, and Anderson argues that this "calendrical" way of looking at the past was another important factor in imagined communities as it allows groups of people to think of a historic root in national identity.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Human Condition

The Human Condition
By Hannah Arendt

Currently experiencing a philosophical revival this work by Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, was originally published in 1958. The Human Condition has been called the basis of many of the current theories written about human interaction and relationships. Arendt focuses on three fundamental human activities: labor, work and action. Arendt feels that these three actions are fundamental, “because each corresponds to one of the basic conditions under which life has been given to man”

Every activity performed in the public can attain an excellence never achieved in privacy; for excellence, by definition, the presence of others is always required, and this presence needs formality familiar presence of ones equals or inferiors.” (p49)

Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy

Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy
by Dave Hickey

“It is hard to find someone you love, who loves you- but you can begin, at least, by finding someone who loves your love song.” (p17)

Art criticism written through Dave Hickey’s personal history and connection to popular culture. Essays range from topics on Pollock, Warhol, Rock and Roll, Spectatorship and participation in art and music, and Norman Rockwell as a true artist of the people.

Accidental Audience: Urban Interventions By Artists

Accidental Audience: Urban Interventions By Artists
Edited by Kim Pruesse
1999, off/site collective
printed in Canada

Contains an amazing essay, “The Nature of the Investigation: Artmaking in a Postmodern Era” By Carol Becker

Social Acupuncture: A Guide To Suicide, Performance and Utopia

Social Acupuncture: A Guide To Suicide, Performance and Utopia

By Daren O’Donnell

An insightful an often hilarious book that focuses on the state of social engagement and the arts, relational aesthetics and theater with a focus on the Canadian art scene and O'Donnell’s practice.

A really effective intervention recognizes that improving conditions for others must also somehow improve conditions for yourself. In this way, selfishness is recouped in the name of wider social good.” (p38)

In all artistic practice-even that of civic engagement- a by-product is social capital: fame. At the bottom, the desire for fame is the desire to be loved unconditionally by a lot of people, most of whom you don’t know. It’s the desire to be able to be yourself wherever you are and have that expression accepted and supported. ” (p39)

Avoiding art and artistic practices that don’t directly and tangibly question the material differentials and how they play out in the global economic field would not be absolute, but the guide for a temporary strategy.” (p44)

Encounters in the Twenty-First Century Polyphony

Encounters in the Twenty-First Century Polyphony Emerging Resonances
Edited by Yukata Mino

“Connecting to survive, singing in a multiplicity of voices to survive.”

This collection of essays was brought together for the opening of the 21st Century Museum of contemporary art in Kanazawa, Japan. Topics covered in the essays include the role of architecture in art galleries in relation to viewers interacting and participating with the exhibitions, how the individual defines one self through group relationships, the need for public and communal space and how that is increasingly becoming evident through contemporary art by artists such as Rikrit Tiravanija.

Acts of Engagement: Writings on Art, Criticism, and Institutions, 1993-2002

Acts of Engagement: Writings on Art, Criticism, and Institutions, 1993-2002
by Michael Brenson

Personal note: Real-life situations are not intrusions that diminish our aesthetic experiences. They are the conditions that make them possible. Exploring and talking about these situations without reducing or exploiting them is another of the enduring challenges critics face.

Quotes of interest to me:

What I am making a plea for here, most of all, is engagement. There comes a time when people have to take a stand- for art, for the artist, for the imagination. For the artistic experience. For that way of dealing with private and public, self and other, that makes it possible to contest, to imagine, to dream, to feel the poetry of the world and the poetry of struggle, to realize the potential within each person for poetic identity. Against anyone, on any side, who wants to trivialize that experience.”

"What is the relationship between aesthetics and revelation and between aesthetics and ethics? How can I help make the world better? Where do I come from? What am I doing here?"

"Art professionals need to think harder about the way non-art professionals talk about art, particularly contemporary art."

"You can’t protect aesthetics by building a wall around it. The world is already in it. The most serious betrayal of the aesthetic, the betrayal of quality, does not lie in considering it in terms of psychology, economics, politics, philosophy, and history, but in denying the embededness of the world in whatever our experience quality and the aesthetic might be."

"What makes the art experience possible? Who can have it? Who profits from it and why? Without doubt, museums will remain essential sites for this experience and places where all sorts of inspiring encounters are possible. But it is not hard to appreciate why many younger curators, including those who have been organizing large international exhibitions around the world, aesthetic experience is fulfilled not when it encourages a heightened understanding of and greater participation in everyday life. Approaching the relationship between aesthetic experience and everyday life as both seamless and dialectical makes it easier for the uses of art to be consistently exposed and questioned. It also makes it easier to appreciate the gift of art while fighting for a better world".

"I have always believed in art but also why my belief in it revolves around notions of encounter, connection, and process."

"The primary language of the new museum is one of “visitor services”. It is dependant upon a constellation of words that includes access, community, conversation, dialogue, diversity, partnership, and transparency. This constellation is now largely disconnected from another constellation that includes words like commitment, courage, imagination, introspection, passion, process, risk, searching, and struggle. These words are part of the language of artistic creativity".

Taking the Matter into Common Hands: On Contemporary Art and Collaborative Practices

Taking the Matter into Common Hands: On Contemporary Art and Collaborative Practices
by Johanna Billing (Editor), Maria Lind (Editor), Lars Nilsson (Editor)

This book features Maria Lind's essay, The Collaborative Turn, (2007)

Lind examines some of the possible driving forces behind some of the socially
engaged art works that emerged in the 1990s:

A Common explanation is the wish to practice generosity and sharing as an
alternative to contemporary individualism and the traditional role of the romantic artist as solitary genius. Self-determination in an ever more instrumentalised artworld, both commercially and publicly, and a desire to be a more powerful force in society have also been mentioned as important motivations. Not to forget the fun involved with working with others and the practical advantages of sharing tasks according to specialities and preferences. In certain cases, the need for infrastructure…self-promotion and a desire to achieve success in the artworld.