Re: Donald Kuspit on DocumentaX as Swastica!

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ NEW STUFF ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by Matt Menzies on October 29, 1997 at 12:50:20:

In Reply to: Re: Donald Kuspit on DocumentaX as Swastica! posted by Jordan Crandall on July 31, 1997 at 16:01:53:

: Re: Kuspit review at

: There are many sites and programs of the documenta. The exhibition
: spaces in Kassel are only one part. Kuspit misses this completely; he
: is too wedded to the days when exhibition spaces were the primary
: sites. And correspondingly, to the days when critics could stroll
: through them, write art reviews, and wield power. The dX is a symbol
: for him of something much larger, which has undermined that power, and
: so he attacks it, with all the vitriol of a critic being denied tenure.

: By seeing only the exhibition spaces, and not taking into account at
: least the other primary sites, including the book and the 100 days/100
: guests program, Kuspit has written a review after having accessed only
: about a third of the event.

: Had he spent some time with the book (which is assuredly not a
: catalogue), or even accessed some of the 100d/100g lectures that are
: archived onsite and disseminated through various venues (or perhaps if
: he even *attended* one), he might have recognized that the inclusion of
: historical art is not based in "nostaglia," as he accuses (specifically,
: "nostalgia for '68"), but a need to give the present temporal depth and
: associative perspective. As Aldo van Eyck would say (pg. 532 of the
: book), "This is not historic indulgence in a limited sense; not a
: question of travelling back, but merely of being aware of what 'exists'
: in the present - what has travelled into it: the projection of the past
: into the future via the created present." Specifically, the dX aims to
: create a political context for the interpretation of artistic activity
: today through an informed viewing of artistic-political interventions of
: the postwar past. This "retroperspective" is very consciously
: structured to displace the western perspective, and to call attention to
: technological structures of mediation -- the historically-specific
: lenses through which images are seen. It establishes four emblematic
: dates -- 1945, 1967, 1978, and 1989 -- that mark out the frames of this
: study. We are to view this history in light of contemporary conditions
: of globalization, to understand globalization through "temporal depth"
: and the perspectives that accompany it, and, correspondingly, to situate
: current artistic and cultural practices within its dynamics.

: There are many venues for the creation of this contemporary context
: other than the artist's installations; in the 100days/100guests program
: alone, 100 speakers from architecture, urban planning, philosophy,
: cultural criticism, economics, film, theater, comparative literature,
: political science, journalism, anthropology, sociology, media theory,
: psychology. These are presented live, broadcast, archived, and
: disseminated on the internet. These invitees are on equal footing with
: every artist invited. There is the Hybrid Workspace, a revolving forum
: occupied by groups for various periods, whose works are disseminated
: online; there are online projects and forums, a film program with seven
: films produced and presented at dX and shown through other venues, a
: series of television broadcasts, radio broacasts, a theater program, a
: series of working papers in the form of a magazine, and, of course, the
: book, an enormous resource of material and historical contextualization
: in a montage technique that is very much a key to engaging the content
: of dX. All of this is meant to take time; to unfold; to provide ongoing
: context for discussion and study.

: As globalism opens state barriers out into the larger conditions of
: global trade, it also hopefully marks a bursting of the bubble of the
: "art world," in which Kuspit has been happily couched. For everyone,
: including the notoriously bunkered realm of institutional visual art,
: the horizon has burst open, the stakes have been drastically raised, the
: reformations by and through the transnationalization of the economy
: cannot be ignored as part and parcel of cultural practice. And in order
: to understand this world-reshaping - as *culture* -- the
: retroperspective is a valuable technique, not a nostalgia for a bygone
: era. It gives us tools, ways of informed seeing.

: Kuspit comments that "Information by itself is not concept and
: cognition. Lacking a larger psychosocial and historical
: conceptualization and contextŠthe information--'documents'--tend to fall
: short intellectually and fall flat emotionally." This is precisely why
: the curators have worked so tirelessly to create a historical context,
: and why contemporary practices must be seen in the context of
: globalization in order to have any life. So what is Kuspit saying?
: First he denounces what he sees as an overemphasis on historical
: perspective, and then he writes that "The information exhibited is even
: inadequate as the index to society it claims to be, for since it is
: given without any psychosocial and historical perspective it ends up
: referencing itself." He complains that there is there too much
: historical perspective, and then he complains that there is no
: historical perspective.

: After citing Bachelard, he then complains that "There are no absolute
: images in the exhibition, that is, images that seem self-accomplishing
: or ends in themselves". So, after arguing that there is too much
: historical contextualization in the dX, then that the work doesn't have
: enough of a historical context, he then complains that these works
: should require context at all - that they are not "absolute images," or
: "self-accomplishing" "ends in themselves."

: After this nostalgic summation, Kuspit himself becomes unhinged. He
: calls the curators "commissar-types" who are engaging in "leftist
: fascism," and, surely through narrowed, squinty eyes, he then remarks
: that the logo looks like a "hammer and sickle" or a "perverse swastika."
: This makes it painfully aware that he doesn't even know how to read a
: sign.

: JC

Follow Ups:

Post a Followup




Optional Link URL:
Link Title:
Optional Image URL:

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ NEW STUFF ] [ FAQ ]