In this issue
The overlooked field of exhibition histories is discussed by the co-organisers of the Landmark Exhibitions conference in relation to feminist and Marxist art histories of the 1970s and today’s rapidly changing geo-political environmnent.
This discussion of two films made for television in 1971 by Flemish filmmaker Jef Cornelis brings into relief an underlying characteristic of his documentaries of art-world events: the privileging of conflict over consensus. The paper also includes translated transcripts of interviews with the artist Daniel Buren included in the two films.
This paper looks at a number of exhibitions planned and installed by artists from the late 1950s until the present. From these comparisons we see the extraordinary elasticity that the notion of exhibiting can provoke, ranging from an (apparently) empty gallery to the exhibition as an elaborate pretence, from taking the art work to pieces and changing it into something else to an ‘endless’ proposition for engaging the creativity of the viewer
In this paper the author reflects on the early history of the dOCUMENTA exhibitions held every five years in Kassel, Germany, from 1955. Recalling his long engagement with the topic of the historiography of exhibitions, he compares documenta with earlier exhibitions at Recklinghausen and with Skulptur-Projekte Münster, drawing out the special features of what he calls periodic exhibitions.
The author discusses the proliferation of the new genre of ‘remembering exhibitions’ as part of the recent interest in the history of landmark exhibitions, and focuses on three forms of re-enactment which she terms replica, riff and reprise. She also considers open-source, open-access online archives that can reshape the recording, reception and reiteration of an exhibition.
The artist Hans Haacke presents a career overview of his involvement with recurring exhibitions, from documenta 2 (1959) via the Venice Biennale (1993) to the 7th Gwangju Biennale (2008). Citing examples of his own contributions to major museum exhibitions (including Information at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970), he explores the complex relations an artist has with institutions and their curators.
The author introduces her in-depth survey of the exhibitionLes Immatériaux, conducted during the show at the Centre Pompidou in 1985 (and published in 1986). The survey allowed new, non-statistical methodologies to be tested and today represents a valuable source of information about Jean-François Lyotard’s and Thierry Chaput’s landmark exhibition.
Les Immatériaux, Jean-François Lyotard’s and Thierry Chaput’s 1985 groundbreaking exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, is discussed as a temporal and pictorial experience of working through (as in psychoanalysis) that which resists being seen according to conventional exhibition practices and the spatial logics of linear history.
This paper looks back at the author’s curatorial practice, with a focus on her ‘number shows’ and their randomly ordered ‘card catalogues’, from 1969 to 1974. These were related to the blurring of identities between artists, curators, and critics in conceptual art of the 1960s, and anticipated some more recent exhibition strategies.
Sophie Richard’s analysis, published posthumously in 2009, of the role played by the networks of artists, dealers, museum curators, collectors and critics in the development of conceptual art in Europe between 1967 and 1977 is introduced, with particular emphasis on the role of Konrad Fischer as the pre-eminent ‘dealer curator’ of the period.
The 1985 exhibition Les Immatériaux – curated by French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard and Thierry Chaput at the Centre Pompidou in Paris – is cast as a pre-1989 event that foresaw the advent of globalisation, as a melancholic anticipation of the changing role of contemporary art in this era of accelerated exchange, and as a moment in a history of exhibitions in the wake of what was called, until recently, aesthetics.
The popularity of art biennials has been taken as proof of the collapse of the concept of the centre and its peripheries, supposedly replaced by a more global, democratic and decolonialised art world. Drawing on data from documenta between 1968 and 2007, this paper explores the power implications of such art exhibitions with reference to the artists who are their lifeblood.
The Other Story, 1989, the first retrospective exhibition of British African, Caribbean and Asian modernism, was received with derision and acclaim in equal measure. The paper discusses the roots of the controversy in Britain’s imperialist attitudes to race, nationalism and internationalism, the exhibition’s contribution to the erosion of ethnic barriers in the art establishment and its role in opening up a cosmopolitan perspective on British diasporan art.
Rodchenko’s research into the concept of line was fundamental to the ambitions of Russian constructivism. Careful examination of his paintings and objects from 1918 to 1921 show both the experimentalism and the hesitations that accompanied his move from construction to production art. Based on the 2009 Tate Modern exhibition Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism, the article reflects on the successes and limitations of Rodchenko’s experiment.
In Western art history the grid has been positioned as an emblem of modernism. In Russia, however, early constructivist artists saw the grid as both a formal and ideological device. After a period dominated by socialist realism, the grid was re-adopted in the 1960s and 1970s by some dissident modernist and conceptualist artists. This essay argues that the grid can still be an effective device in radical art practices as long as it is not perceived as an escapist structure that does not address the topics of today.
Reports and strategies
This text discusses questions of definition and of translation, both textual and cultural, in relation to local and global understandings of art made in the Middle East. In so doing, it explores tensions and contradictions that currently constrain research in this area.
This paper reviews the challenges of attempting to negotiate complex cultural differences between the West and other parts of the world at a time when the balance of political, economic and cultural power may be shifting. Engaging with difference is seen as an ongoing process requiring depth and complexity.
This paper considers the changing nature of art spaces in Beirut over the last fifteen years. Contrary to the experiences of nearby cities such as Cairo, Alexandria, Amman and Istanbul, the art scene in Beirut hinges on artist-led initiatives that, until recently, have been operating without spaces of their own. This paper explores the benefits and detriments of this now shifting situation, and suggests that ‘spacelessness’ has encouraged artists and curators to engage more meaningfully and directly with the city itself.