Today marks a new era for American politics and for international relationships. But before we move forward, I suggest we look back to art produced during the Bush administration. Over the past eight years, media artists have sought to subvert and interrogate the policies and machinations of this administration from a myriad of perspectives. A quick jaunt through Rhizome's Artbase reveals this trajectory. In this post, I selected a few my favorite "Bush-era" projects from the ArtBase in order to situate where we're coming from, but also to remind everyone that democracy is an ongoing project, and that the years to come will require the same degree of engagement.
Artist's statement: ASCII BUSH is an ascii video rendition of two State of the Union addresses one delivered by George W. Bush on January 12, 2003 (just before the current Iraqi war); the other by his father, George H.W. Bush, on March 6, 1991 (right after Operation Desert Storm).
The basic goal of this project is to make art from the debris of our culture by recycling these dreadful and painfully long presidential oration. The speeches are not edited—just digitally filtered. And like I said, they are very lengthy. ASCII BUSH is definitely boring enough to be interesting!!!
Artist's statement: at bushSpeech.org you can create a speech for george w. bush. make him say the things you always wanted him to say. as in real life, he just says what others tell him to. now it is your turn. you don ...
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Machine Project, since its inception in 2003, has grown to become one of those mythic, playful and gloriously idiosyncratic spaces -- on the map alongside destinations such as the Museum of Jurassic Technology, the City Reliquary, or the Pirate Store at 826 Valencia. An interdisciplinary non-profit art space run out of a storefront in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Machine Project host events and exhibitions, which span lectures on the aesthetic cultivation of bacteria to a 3 day banjo performance in their front window. I interviewed founder Mark Allen about his involvement with the space and some of their upcoming projects.
The Guardian reports that the live and media arts department of the ICA, which was known to show important works in the past but has slowed in recent years, will be closed. According to the ICA's director Ekow Eshun "it's my consideration that, in the main, the art form lacks depth and cultural urgency". Read the full article here.
A unique take on the form of a traveling exhibition, For a Brief Time Only... takes the exhibition to you -- yes, you. The instructions are simple -- visit this site, email Mylinh Trieu Nguyen and David Horvitz of ASDF your address, and then they will send 24 image files by 24 artists to a photo developer near you. You can then pick up the prints from this location, and display them wherever, whenever and however you want. One caveat though -- as the title indicates, these images can only be obtained for a limited period, from November 6 to December 4 to be exact, so hop to it!
Long before flash mobs, liveblogging, and file-sharing were part of the vernacular, artists were creating social sculptures and elaborate systems for public collaboration. The upcoming SFMOMA exhibition, "The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now" takes a sweeping look at work that addresses co-authorship, exchange, and rapidity--all themes we associate with life in a digital society, but which the show traces back within a post-war art historical context. Organized by the museum's new media curator, Rudolf Frieling, the show includes works ranging from groundbreaking projects by Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, John Cage, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Lynn Hershman, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and Andy Warhol, to contemporary work by Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Janet Cardiff, Minerva Cuevas, Antoni Muntadas, the Raqs Media Collective, Warren Sack, and Erwin Wurm. The show also casts a glance at the ways in which the title's theme has evolved with communicative media. Take, for instance, the old-fashioned gesture of audience participation. Tom Marioni's legendary public project The Act of Drinking Beer With Friends Is the Highest Form of Art offers an intoxicating stance on the act, while MTAA's Automatic for the People: ( ) allows you to vote on the theme, props, and even subtitle of a performance they'll publicly enact at the museum on November 7th. If you can't make it to San Francisco to see the show and participate live, you can, of course, get in on the act with the online works. Because, really, the show's nothing without you. - Marisa Olson
Image: Lygia Clark, Diálogo:
See below for video documentation from the Montage: Unmonumental Online talk led by Rhizome Curator at Large and Staff Writer Marisa Olson with four artists from the exhibition, Michael Bell-Smith, William Boling, Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, and Nina Katchadourian. Each artist gave a brief presentation of their work and joined in a round table discussion in which they discussed their diverse approaches to practices of appropriating, sampling, remixing, and otherwise responding to found material, online. This talk occurred earlier this year. These videos are available on Rhizome's Vimeo and dedicated Video page.
Montage: Unmonumental Online 1/5 from Rhizome on Vimeo.
Montage: Unmonumental Online 2/5 from Rhizome on Vimeo.
Montage: Unmonumental Online 3/5 from Rhizome on Vimeo.
Montage: Unmonumental Online 4/5 from Rhizome on Vimeo.
Montage: Unmonumental Online 5/5 from Rhizome on Vimeo.