In the early 1960s, exiled Lithuanian artist and Fluxus founder George Maciunas (according to legend) wrote to Nikita Khrushchev and proposed, among other things, a tour of Fluxus artists aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway. Although none of Maciunas's proposed collaborations with the Communist party were ever realized, his intention to spread the art and ideals of the Fluxus movement throughout the Eastern Bloc succeeded. Fluxus East, an exhibition now at Berlin's Kunstlerhaus Bethanien illuminates this previously under-documented history of Fluxus in Eastern Europe. Objects, photos, films, texts, and even police files compiled on their activities, commune the rich narrative of this prolific group which thrived during a period of oppressive state control. Over the next year the show will travel to historical hubs of Fluxus activities in the East, including Vilnius, Krakow, and Budapest, with simultaneous offshoot exhibitions throughout the area. As a result, 'Fluxus East' and its related program embodies not only Fluxus as an important movement, but as a continuing network of people, places and truly revolutionary ideals.
Image: George Maciunas: Spell Your Name with these Objects (1976).
"Uruguay's capital Montevideo is soon to be re-named Montedvd to make it sound less eighties." "Kyrgyzstan is the world's leading exporter of typos." So are the 'facts' laid out in Craig Robinson's new book Atlas Schmatlas. Known by many as the creator of the website flip flop flyin, Robinson has been entertaining us for many years with his light and self effacing website which is part gallery, part blog, part sketchbook, and part television station. Widely recognized for his Mini Pops, pixilated portraits of international celebrities, Robinson also chronicles the life of David with the One long Arm and his own questionable life choices in What If. Not his first foray into cartography (see 2005's fantastic Mapping Bruce) Atlas Schmatlas is loaded with beautiful maps and some real but mostly made up facts about the world. It could be said to be a humorous reflection of an increased cultural and artistic interest in centralized mapping and locative systems. However, it could also be said to be a charming (or irritating, depending on your perspective) and only slightly problematic text that reduces the cultures of the world to pixelized caricatures and a few witty lines of text.
This weekend, the much talked about 24-Hour Serpentine Gallery Experiment Marathon will be taking place in the gallery's Olafur Eliasson- and Kjetil Thorsen-designed pavilion in London's Hyde Park. The brainchild of Eliasson and Serpentine curator (or Co-Director, Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects to be exact) Hans Ulrich Obrist, the Marathon aims to bring together artists, architects, and scientists to explore issues of time, space, and reality (all themes that run throughout Eliasson's own practice) and experiment with them in a public forum. An extension of Obrist's '24-Hour Interview Marathon' of last year, the event also harkens back to E.A.T's (Experiments in Art and Technology) infamous and highly influential '9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering' which took place in New York, in 1966, and featured a collaboration between artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Yvonne Rainer, and over 30 engineers from Bell Labs. Of the many projects underway this weekend, one that succinctly demonstrates the conflation of disciplines and cultures at work is a joint venture between Obrist and John Brockman (of the loosely-organized 'think tank' Edge), for which a broad range of artists and scientist were asked the question, "What is your formula? Your equation? Your algorithm?" Using a simple sheet of A4 paper, respondents ranging from Richard Dawkins to Brian Eno rendered their own scientific method, as art.
Long before there was McSweeney's, there was Aspen. Published by Phyllis Johnson intermittently from 1965-71, each issue of Aspen was a multimedia bonanza--a box filled with individual texts, photographs, audio recordings, posters, postcards, and for some issues a 16 mm film. Initially a proto-lifestyle magazine (the first issue had an article about the joys of cross country skiing, and the proceedings of the 1965 International Design Conference), by its third issue (designed by Andy Warhol and including submissions from Lou Reed and John Cale as well as flip books by Warhol and Jack Smith), it was almost completely dedicated to the practice of contemporary art. A quick perusal of the index reveals an unbelievable wealth of materials. Excerpts from Marshall McLuhan's The Medium is the Massage and the first printing of Roland Barthes' infamous essay, The Death of the Author, sit alongside a diary by John Lennon, a film by Hans Richter, and other gems too countless to mention. The diverse material nature of the periodical lent itself perfectly to the internet's multimedia structures, and in 2002 it was migrated/translated to the web by Stanford book publisher Andrew Stafford. Available via Kenneth Goldsmith's also impressive on-line archive of the avant-garde, UbuWeb, Aspen online is a beacon of accessibility--taking what was an extremely important, small-run, difficult to find, and now impossibly rare publication and making it widely available.
(image: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 'Wave/rock')
New technologies always lend themselves to personal and artistic expression and a new show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives 1840-1860, illustrates how technology and the artistic impulse have gone hand in hand for well over 100 years. The invention of the calotype in 1941 not only allowed photographers to use readily available fine writing paper to make multiple prints, but also made photography more accessible to a broader population. The particular qualities of the paper negative (softening of details and ethereal light and shadow) lent themselves perfectly to the picturesque tendencies of the time
I wholeheartedly agree that Ben made some excellent points (and it's nice to have the link to his notes—thanks for that). In particular:
"//It tried to reinvent the wheel because it lacked the tacit knowledge of previous generations who had shared similar concerns and worked through many of the pitfalls."
I feel this statement clearly encapsulates a problem with much of the recent discourse around the idea of post-internet. There's an assumption that a critical articulation of the relationship between online and physical objects is a new phenomenon. The materiality (or demateriality) was an ongoing concern from the outset of artists working on the Internet. So I'm disappointed when I hear Karen Archley cite a 2009 exhibition curated by AIDS-3D as the first instance of this kind of material engagement—if we are suggesting that this is what the term post-internet has come to represent.
Finger wagging over.
I'm just surprised to see Rhizome facilitating a discussion that suggests that artists and curators were not thinking about the relationships between online themes and aesthetics and offline presentation before 2008!
It doesn't seem like a provocation or exaggeration, it seems like a serious misrepresentation of the history.
I'm sorry. Can someone explain this statement to me? Michael?
Job Title: Exhibitions Curator
Position Type: Full-time contract, 35 hours/week
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Years Experience: 3+
The Western Front Society seeks an outstanding, highly motivated arts professional to step into the role of Exhibitions Curator.
The Western Front is one of Canada’s pioneering artist-run centres and produces and presents works in five programs: Exhibitions, Performance Art, New Music, Media Arts, and FRONT Magazine. The Western Front was founded in 1973 by a small group of interdisciplinary artists, and has developed into an exemplary multi-disciplinary environment for experimental art practice and research. With a staff of ten plus interns and volunteers, the Society collectively produces over fifty events a year.
The Exhibitions Program has a mandate to present contemporary visual art by local, national and international artists. Intentionally open, this mandate has historically focused on artwork that is conceptual, media-based or otherwise ephemeral in nature. Currently the program promotes experimentation with conceptual models and contexts for visual art that have allowed the program to expand beyond gallery exhibitions to include artist books and posters, cross-disciplinary works, site-specific and Internet projects, and commissions.
The Exhibitions Curator reports to the Executive Director, and is responsible for:
• Developing and communicating a dynamic vision for the Exhibitions Program
• Curating exhibitions and all associated programming
• Editing publications
• Writing grants and seeking opportunities for additional funding or support
• Supervising one part-time staff member, contract workers, as well as volunteers
• Exemplary knowledge and understanding of contemporary art practices
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills
• Proven financial management experience
• Strong organizational skills
• Ability to provide direction and work with a diverse staff
• High capacity to meet deadlines and work under pressure
• Knowledge of a broad range of issues related to the arts
• A clear understanding of the philosophy and history of the Canadian artist-run centre movement
• Knowledge of the principle funding agencies and prior grant writing experience
• Knowledge of managing publications and print projects
• Experience installing a variety of art exhibitions
• Mac OS, Microsoft Office, electronic mail and Filemaker Pro, an asset
A competitive benefits package is available after the three months probation period is complete. After eight months of employment, four weeks paid vacation may be taken during the period when programs are recessed. An additional ten days paid holiday time may be taken during the December/January holiday period.
A part-time Exhibitions Assistant supports this position. Provisions are also made within the program budget for research-based travel.
HOW TO APPLY
The Western Front Society is committed to the principles of Employment Equity and encourages applications from Aboriginal persons, members of a visible minority group or persons with a disability.
Applications containing a cover letter, curriculum vitae, three references, and writing samples, must be received by 4:00 p.m. on December 14, 2009.
Please send applications by email only to:
Exhibitions Curator Hiring Committee
Western Front Society
303 East 8th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5T 1S1
NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE. Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.