Dice Thrown (Will Never Annul Chance), my curated show of new currents in conceptual photography, opens at Bellwether on October 12th. The show looks at work that breaks with the architectonic and instrumental uses of the medium in conceptual practice, and is part of a series of shows called "The Mallarmé Propositions," following from the poet’s declaration that “everything is summed up in aesthetics and political economy.”
Photography has undergone two major shifts in the past few decades: the loss of 'hard' empirical claims through its digital condition, and the medium’s increasing distance from modernism through its use in conceptual art. Recent conceptual photography has amended these two directions itself, with a break from the way conceptual artists relegated photography to architectonic and instrumental uses, often merely to illustrate, dematerialize, or record.
What results is a new form of conceptual photography that approaches the medium as a poetic and expressive process, rather a detached method of reproduction and representation. While digital technology has transformed the medium's pictorial potential, supposedly bringing it closer to the logic of painting, this new kind of photographic practice engages a conceptual space specific to the medium. "Dice Thrown (Will Never Annul Chance)" aims to contextualize a set of artists--many not yet associated with each other--that approach photography as an ideational, anti-mimetic, yet decidedly formal area of artistic practice: Walead Beshty, Peter Coffin, Elspeth Diederix, Marius Engh, Daniel Lefcourt, David Lieske, Lisa Oppenheim, Eileen Quinlan, Amanda Ross-Ho, Sara VanDerBeek, Melanie Willhide, Spencer Young.
Whether by treating a photograph as an instantiation of an idea or an object--rather than its surrogate--or as a distinct image-making method, this kind of photography moves beyond the notion of a photograph as illustrative, as a 'picture' of the real, or as a mere supplement for ephemeral and time-based art.
With an active investment in the epistemological, socio-cultural, and material aspects of photography itself, and by intersecting it with a variety of disciplines, the artists included in Dice Thrown (Will Never Annul Chance) develop a diverse set of issues intrinsic to new currents in photography.
Following Dice Thrown (Will Never Annul Chance) in the The Mallarmé Propositions will be Aspects, Forms, Figures, an exhibition focusing on the numinous as ‘deep’ formalism—-as in Marx’s claim about grotesque ideas dreamed up by commodity form—and In Defense of Ardor, which will propose ardor as an ethical and political imperative.
DICE THROWN (Will Never Annul Chance)
October 12th to November 11th, 2006