Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Economy
June 15 – July 28, 2007
Curated by João Ribas

Chantal Akerman
Kader Attia
Ursula Biemann
Mike Bouchet
Heath Bunting
Los Carpinteros
Carolina Caycedo
Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel
Harun Farocki
Eva and Franco Mattes a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG
Cildo Meireles
Henrik Plenge Jakobsen
Oliver Ressler
Joe Scanlan
Santiago Sierra
Rirkrit Tiravanija
Milica Tomic
Donelle Woolford

New Economy looks at the nature of artistic practice in today’s global information economy, defined by an emphasis on immaterial and knowledge-based production. In addressing notions of artistic labor in the postindustrial economic order, the exhibition also focuses on artists dealing with the social conditions and redefinitions of work implicit in a post-Fordist economy.

The term “New Economy” entered into circulation in the 1990s to define a knowledge-based form of late capitalism, heralding the productive power of information and communication technology as the engine of global markets. The 'informatisation' of production served as a catalyst for a flexible economic model favoring ideas, services, and sociability over inert commodities and industrial labor. As capital seemingly dematerialized—with knowledge workers, information, and communication at its center—industrial economies looked to downsizing, outsourcing, and structural underemployment, resulting in a correlative ‘remapping’ of labor.

Yet if the information-based model of postindustrial society values communication, creativity, and social relationships, what is the role of artistic practice in this political economy? Do artists function as migrant laborers, moving from biennial to biennial producing a form of ‘artisanalized’ information? Is studio practice a localized form of resistance to immaterial production? Is there any political agency in artists being positioned directly in contrast to the marginal elements of the body politic, afforded rights, such as that of circulation, denied to other political subjects?

New Economy takes these concerns as reflected in the artistic practice of the last decade. Whether in reassessing the value of industrial production, disrupting established economic patterns and proposing alternatives, emphasizing both the pre-industrial and informational quality of artistic labor, embracing mobility as socially progressive through the transnational character of post-studio work, revealing the disparities of our supposed ‘frictionless’ economy, or highlighting the commodification of social relationships over democratic processes, the artists in New Economy reflect the complex character of post-Fordist society.

Image: Henrik Plenge Jakobsen, The Wealth of Nations and Das Kapital, 2004, dimensions variable, courtesy the artist

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I will be in conversation with artist William Anastasi at The Drawing Center, this Thursday, May 31, at 6:30 PM, as part of the exhibition William Anastasi: Raw.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

In Defense of Ardor

In Defense of Ardor
Curated by João Ribas and Becky Smith
May 24th to June 30th, 2007
Opening reception Thursday May 24th, 6-8 pm

Julieta Aranda
Johanna Billing
Colby Bird
Nathalie Djurberg
Dana Frankfort
Jutta Koether
Jonathan Meese
Otto Muehl
Michael Queenland
Jacob Robichaux
Jessica Stockholder
Kirsten Stoltmann

What is the point of art that does nothing but “dramatize how dark and stupid everything is” [David Foster Wallace]? In Defense of Ardor proposes a contrast to insipid notions of irony, unremitting cynicism, and pessimistic detachment.

Irony has been narrowly defined—and partly misappropriated—as a kind of ideological malaise, a willful displacing of affect in return for absolute neutrality and arrogant negativity. The result is a “hatred that winks and nudges you and pretends it's just kidding.” Yet lost in this torpor of ironic detachment are engaged forms of productive irony and ardor, in sharp contrast to the ineffectual character of the corrosive cynicism now taken as normative. What of the irony of Kierkegaard, Schlegel or Thomas Mann, directed at barbarism seeking to destroy liberal values? Or as Adam Zagajewski suggests after Wallace, the tragic, poetic, and parodic resistance of ardor, or the progressive function of engaged artistic practice defined by failure, ideological fervor, or exhortation? Can sincere commitment, feverish engagement, or poetic intensity be productive in the era of the mass democracy of taste, where irony is no longer the language of power inverted, but rather, the vulgate of complacency and consensus?

Whether by reassessing the legacies of radical avant-gardes and a willful lapse into puritanical ethics (Michael Queenland); the collective stasis of democratic politics in an administered society (Julieta Aranda, Johanna Billing); the need for self-actualization and the irony of authenticity (Colby Bird); the progressive function of play (Jacob Robichaux); the poetic intensity of form and material (Jutta Koether, Jessica Stockholder); the aesthetics of earnestness and sincerity (Dana Frankfort, Kirsten Stoltmann); or the transgressive states of Dionysian or “Id-ridden” intensity (Nathalie Djurberg, Jonathan Meese, Otto Muehl), the artists in the exhibition set out a variety of means to contrast the corrosive, enervating effect of cynical reason.

In Defense of Ardor is the final installment of a three part series of exhibitions at Bellwether titled The Mallarmé Propositions. The other exhibitions in the series were Dice Thrown (Will Never Annul Chance) (October-November 2006) and Aspects, Forms, & Figures (February-March 2007). Click here for more information.