Thursday, November 17, 2011


my friend the other was asking me if what the current movements in art were, or if there could be any new movements, new manifestos, new schools. and i've been catching up on artforum (i'm a few months behind,) so i thought i would share two quotes, from the beginning and end of a piece tim griffin wrote for artforum on the venice biennial.

by the bye, who else misses tim griffin as editor in chief of artforum?

from tim griffin's "Out of Time," artforum, september 2011

he begins:
"Among the more puzzling preoccupations of dialogues around art during the past five years has been 'the contemporary,' a seemingly self-evident description that, to date, has operated largely in reverse - that has been put forward, in other words, as a meaningful denomination and subject of inquiry in advance of any actual deductive relationship to the surrounding world. The hope, it would seem, is that the term employed by itself, and evocatively, will help tease out some general understanding of the conditions for artmaking and its reception today. Yet, unlikely as this might be the impulse is easy enough to fathom: Artists, art historians, curators, and critics alike wish to find historical trajectories in art today where none immediately announce themselves; a disorienting air of atemporality prevails instead. Indeed, the imperative for historical precedent or distinction becomes only more urgent in light of spectulative obsessions with the 'new' in a radically expanded art system whose borders have become so porous as to erode the very ideation of art. Hence, large-scale international exhibitions often tend these days toward long durees of low-grade curatorial anxiety, continually setting up historical counterpoints for recent artwork on the one hand - is modernism our antiquity? - and almost daring artists to cross the lines between artistic and larger social contexts on the other. If there is a substantive sense of 'the contemporary' to be employed here, it is likely the 'out-of-jointness' that philosopher Girogio Agamben ascribed to the term: Something is contemporary when it occupies time disjunctively, seeming always at once 'too soon' and 'too late,' or, more accurately in terms of art now, seeming to contain the seeds of its own anarchronism."

and he ends,
"...we would do well to take a closer look at Christian Marclay's The Clock,, 2010, which was awarded one of this year's Golden Lions. An absolute tour de force of research and editing, the piece plots every minute of a day by incorporating scenes from myriad films ranging widely in origin and genre, with each scenario being passed seamlessly to the next. Someone knocks on the door in one frame, and another person from a different film - an utterly changed time and place - answers. Or an alarm goes off in a mid-1950s bedroom, and someone from the 1970s awakes. Yet one must still, I think consider the position of the audience member viewing this film (moreover, this film about cinematic habits and behaviors oriented around time): One never quite lives in the moment being watched, but rather waits, always looking for whatever might be coming next. Or, to cite philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, "What we perceive as present is the vivid fringe of memory tinged with anticipation." Ironically, anachronism is our foundation. A more apt representation of art's position can hardly be found."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

palestine and education, science, and culture

Yesterday, UNESCO voted and accepted the Palestinian bid for membership, thereby straining United States relations with the agency and the United Nations in general. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, promotes education, literacy, and gender equality worldwide and is also responsible for designating world heritage sites. The U.S. donates each year a large part of the UNESCO budget, funding almost a quarter of its budget actually. However, as UNESCO has now recognized Palestine as a full member and thus as a internationally recognized nation, the United States will now be forced to suspend contributions to the organization due to American legislation prohibiting involvment in any United Nations organization that supports any country not recognized by a state by the US, which in this case specifically means Palestine. As the Palestinians submitted their bid for membership, American ambassadors and representatives attempted to dissuade the Palestinians from continuing. As Palestine attempts to be recognized by the United Nations as a souvereign nation separate from Israel, US officials, including President Obama, denounced this move as premature. Though Israel and the PLO exchanged letters of recognition in 1993, the United States argues that any move toward peace must originate from direct negotiations between the two countries. American officials have not moved to change US legislation to allow continuing funding to UNESCO, and seem to express no sympathy with this Palestinian effort. Instead of going forward with this bid for full membership with UNESCO, the US has suggested having Palestine sign UNESCO conventions as a "non-state" observer, such as the European Union is recognized. This would potentially allow the organization to list World Heritage sites currently in Israeli control as Palestinian. But the EU is not a nation; it is an economic zone, thus I think the comparison made by this suggestion is bunk. Palestine wants nationhood and the "two-state solution" has been the ultimate goal in negotiations between Israel and Palestine for years. Why undermine that goal now? In part, I blame the election cycle. I blame pressure from the Israelis. I blame Obama's weakness. There is no reason the US government should renege on its its cultural, scientific, and educational obligations to the Palestinians and to the world due to pressure from Israel, a wealthy county to which we already contribute too much aid. I can think of no reason Obama would oppose UN recognition of Palestine, of Palestinian state-hood, of Palestinian involvement in UNESCO other than pressure from Israel and fear of alienation of Jewish voters in the upcoming presidential election. For a president who originally suggested the Palestinians move to achieve recognition from the UN, Obama needs to give back his Nobel peace prize if he is now going back on his word to ensure his own re-election.