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Editor's Letter After the Deluge Michelle Kuo


Film: Best of 2012


John Waters, Amy Taubln, James Quandt,


Hoberman, Susan Oxtoby

The Year in Museums Maxwell L. And erson


John Cale, Jason

Music: Best of 2012 Moran, Liz Wendelbo,




Th e Year

in Pop


Christopher Glazek on Lana Del Rey




Anton Kaes, Ydessa Hendeles, Yve-Aiain Bois, Geoff Dyer, Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Geoffrey Winthrop-Young ,

Peter Ei sen man , Ros a lind E.

Krauss , Charles Bern st e in,

Guy Nordenson, Stewart Home


The Year in Dance David Velasco


The Artists' Artists


Rita Ackermann, Michael Aimereyda, Tarek Atoui, Jo Baer, Trisha Baga , Nina Beier , Jerome Bel, Huma Bhabha, Ginny Bishton, Gregg Bordowitz, Liz Craft, Jonathas de Andrade, Si mon Denny,

Jack Early, Roe Et hridge,

Hans-Peter Feldmann, Mark Flood, Katharina Fritsch, Leslie Hewitt, Elliott Hundley, Run a i slam, lman i ssa , Barbara Kasten , Alex Katz, Ragnar Kjartan sson, Shio Kusaka, David Lamelas, Sam Lewitt, Linder, Peter Liversidge , Kerry James Marsha ll ,

Willie Doherty,

Danie l Joseph Martine z, Tony Mate ll i, Barry


Ryan McGinley, Marlie Mul, Vik Muniz, Clif fo rd


Greg Parma Smith, Katie Paterson, Susan Philipsz, Otto Piene, William Pope.L, Elaine Reichek,

Sasabuchi, Hej i Sh in, Slom inski, Alec Soth,

Sturtevant, Pascale Marthine Tayou , Rirkrit Tiravanija,

Laderman Ukeles, Amel ie von Wu lffen,

James Welling, Claudia Wieser, Ak r am Zaatari

Thomas Ruff, Fumie Roman Signer, Andreas





Roman Signer, Andreas Mierle ·.; ARTFORUM DECEMBER 2012 t o "j FEATURES 204 BEST OF 2012
t o "j
t o


204 BEST OF 2012 Thomas Crow Jack Bankowsky · Lynne Cooke Ha l Foste r Russell Ferguson Eungie Joo Ken Okiishi Daniel Baumann Sofia Hern a ndez Chong Cu y Bruce Hainley Daniel Birnbaum Matthew Higgs Tim Griffin Helen Molesworth Willem de Rooij Claire Bishop Vince Aletti

252 FAREWELL TO AN IDENTITY Benjamin H. D. Buchloh


264 Briony Fer and Ka ira M. Cabanas on the 30th Sao Paulo Bie na l

267 David Joseiit on the 2012 Busan Biennale

269 Thomas Lawson on Jack Gold stein


Pau l ine J. Yao on the 2012 Gwangju Bi ennale

271 Jeannine Tang on "Materializing 'Six Years':

Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Ar t "

272 From New York, Lincoln, New Paltz, Chicago, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, Sunderland, Paris , Berlin, Cologne, Zurich, Basel, Zug, Milan, Bregenz, Brno , Prague, Stockh olm, Madrid, Healesvi ll e, and Tai pe i

Visit www.artforum.com to view videos and other web-exclusive content related to this issue.

Cover: See page 300 for captions.

This page, from top: Heinz Emig holz, Perret In France and Algeria, 2012, digital video, color, sound, 110 minutes. Jurgen Schadeberg, The 29 ANC Wom ens l eague women are being arrested by the police for demonstrating against the permit

laws, which prohibited them from entering townships without a permit, 26t h August 1952 (detail), gelatin silver print, 15'!. x 11'I•". From " Rise and Fall of Apar theid: Photograph y and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life,• 2012. Karel Martens, untitled (detail), 2012, letterpress monoprint on archival card with printer marks, 5'1 x 81.14·. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker,

Fase: Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich, 1982.

Per formance view, The

2012. Anne Teresa De

performing movement 2, Come Out. Photo: Hugo Glendinning.

Tanks, Tate Modern, London, July 1 9,

Keersmaeker ( left) and Tal e Dolven

Farewell to an Identity


Opposite page: Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog (Magenta), 1994-2006, high-chromium stainless steel with transparent colored coating. Installation view, Chateau de Versailles, France, 2008-2009.

Below: Michael Asher, installation, 1970. Installation view, Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont , CA. Photo:

Frank J. Thomas Archives.

FROM THE PERSPECTIVE of the hegemonic reality principle that has defined modernity- i.e., the sub- ject position we have traditionally identified as bo ur- geois-a ll forms and practices of artistic and politica l

contestation, transgression, and critique appeared at least initially as suspicious, if not deviant or outright antagonistic to that model of subjectivity.

internalized reality prin-

ciple and a seemingl y compuls ive desire for a d if- ferent order, even disorder, was in fact one of the constitutive conditions of modernity and avant- ga rde culture from th e 1860s unt il the mid-1960s:

Artists had throughout th at period crea ted im agin ary subjects, models of alternative social relations, lan- guages a nd spaces of differen ce, concepts of critique and countermemory and of oppositional transgres- sion. These practices pointed toward profoundly differ ent, and often actually possible, altern a tive

mode ls fo r the cognitive, percep tual, and linguisti c structuring of social, sensual, and psychosexual experience. As countermodels, such propositions and


str ategies were often defined either by taking

This dialectic of a fu lly

propositions and recourse str ateg ies were often defined either by taking This dialectic of a



( """"' ""' f;,_,.;, ,,/,., ,., ,. ' '
""""' ""'

Above: Marcel Broodthaers, Musee d'Arte Mode rn e. Departement des Aigles, Section Publlcite (M useum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles, Publicity Section) (detail ), 1972, mixed media, dimensions variable. From the series "Musee d'Arte Moderne, Departement des Aigles: 1968-72.

Right: Daniel Buren, You are invited to read this as a guide to what can be seen-Affiches Sauvages {Part 1] (detail), 1970, vertically striped paper. Photo documentation of a work in situ, Bleecker Street , New Yor k, October 1970.

Artists have been increasingly integrated into an ever-expanding structure of cultural control by mirroring in their work the apparatus of industrialized culture itself.

to s ubj ect ive or co ll ec tive n ega tions of ex ist in g orders-in primitivizing discourses, for example (from th ose th at privileged the alterity of different geopolitical spaces to those that championed the alter- ity o f unco nscious desi res)- or by mobilizing tec hno- scientistic counterdiscourses, emphatically insis tin g on the fulfillment of the promises of Enlightenment

actua lities of everyday life were

culture, whic h in the

being withheld in a n order of instrumenta lized proto- totalitarian rationality. Or, in a third mod el, under the conditions of extreme politica l duress in t he late 1920s, for examp le, artists cla imed direct political agency. Th ey explicitly assoc iated themselves w it h

politi ca lly tra nsg ressive utopia n propositions of non- hierarchically ordered social relations or else engaged in o utright oppositio nal struggles aga inst ideo logical dominat ion an d sta te co ntr ol. In keep ing with this dialectic, all of the strategies that had been initiated by different avant-garde cul- tures in various geopolitical contexts were met

througho ut the histo ry of modernity

w ith a w hol e

arsenal of means by which to ignore tqem or defy

them, to cont rol them or defer them, to dismiss them if not liquidate them altogether: Indifference, quar- antine, exclusion, marginalization, pathologization,

a n d, fina lly, co-o ptat io n wer e operatio ns in response to the

th e mos t suc cessfu l political and social



th e mos t suc cessfu l political and social 254 ARTFORUM ch a llenges of

ch a llenges of the h istorical ava nt -ga rd e. And unde r certain extreme political conditions of authoritarian state power, if none of these strategies could com- plete the proj ect of containment, stringent sta te con- trol a nd brutal oppression would inevitably ensure the continuity of a fully uncontested hegemony and proto-totalitarian social order. The longer we have studied the history of ava nt- garde culture, the more compelling the insight has become that the horizons and spaces of utopian thought, and the practices of political and artistic transgression , were tolerated withi n t he bo urgeois capitalist order o nly so long as they did not cross

th ese boundari es of discursive

a nd institutional con-

tainment (i.e., so long as they ultimately complied w ith th e artistic culture a nd the conventions of the museum). And what the artists of the late 1960s and

ea rl y '70s fin a lly formu lated more clea rl y than a n y- body before was the fact that the museum had to be

recogni zed as the s ite w here,

a nd the s ocial institu -

tion wherein, these forms of acceptance through affirmation, of control through cultural canon iza- tion, of to lerance through quarantine, of inversion of meaning through the process of accultu ration, had been most s uccessfu ll y imple mented . It was shortly after the emergence of the institu-

tiona l critiques articulated

by ar tists such as Michael

Asher and Marcel Broodth ae rs, Dan iel Buren and Hans Haacke- and nearly contemporaneous with

the burgeoning critiq ues of ideological hegemonies in the ar tistic practices of Louise Law ler, Martha Rosier, J enny H o lzer, Allan Sekula, and Dara

Birnbaum- that we also encountered And y Wa rhol 's

entry " Art Business vs. Business Art " in his Philoso ph y of Andy Warhol {From A to Band Back Again), in

Enlightenment belief in the

unstoppable progress of institutional critique and

art istic critiques of the discourse of power, I, for one,

considered Wa rhol 's notion brillian tly co nceived parody

ever-expa nd ing art world- a tr aves ty in t he man ner

of Jonathan Swift's "Modest Proposal." Little d id I imagine tha t, a q uarter century later, it wo uld have become impossible for Warhol's p r ognosti c visio n to be mistaken for traves ty anymore. Rather, we ha d .to

recognize- with belated


of Business Art to be a o f the side effec ts of a n

1975 . Armed wi t h an

hind sight-t ha t Wa rh o l

in fac t p r ophesied w hat we fina ll y came to experi- ence: the total permeation of the cultural sphere by the economic operations of finance capital and its attendant ethos and social structures. Only a

Cassandra whose ethics an d aesthetics we re as

exceptionally evacuated as Warhol's (other artists at the time still associated their practices with

cri ti cal, and p olitical aspir at ion s) could have


enunciated this vision. A comparable diagnosis of

the library, the university, and the museum? Anum-


regimes. As the new spectato ria l su bjects

the explicitly and inevitably affirmative character

voluntarily accepted the annulment of social and

of modern culture had been formulated by H erbert Marcuse in the early '60s. Marcuse's tendency to accept if not to exaggerate the inextricably affirma- tive dimensions of cultural production and to recode them as potentially transgressive operations had

political utopian thinking, artistic production sutured itself to the universal reign of spectacularized con- sumption. Embracing the new technologies and mar- ket formations, the new audiences seemed to seriously believe that an expansion of artistic practices into

appeared to us as a symptom of the philosopher's


registers of the culture industry would com pensate

increasing Americanization. In other words, it was


the destruction of the ema ncipa tory promises of

not until the early '80s, or even later, that it dawned

the avant-garde c ultures

of the twentieth cen tury.

on some of us that the cultural apparatus had in fact already undergone precisely those transformations whose full spectrum only Warhol had predicted, and that his prognostics were about to attain the status of all-encompassing and seemingly insurmounta ble new realities. What were the symptoms of these ne w condition s

Those artists whom one could best identify by their parasitical pose of simula ting t he grotesq ues of totalitarian commodity culture are reminiscent of the eponymous protagonist of Bertolt Brecht's 1941 play T he R esistible R ise of Arturo Ui, w ho gesticulates melodramatically in supposed outrage at the calam- itous destruction of the greengrocer's market that he

of the "common culture" that had emerged perhaps most vehemently in the United States but also abroad during the so-called Reagan-Thatcher era? And w hat

and his gang, the cauliflower merchants, have just brought about. For Koons, Hirst, Murakami, Prince, and their ilk cannot in tru th be said to "address" the

structural transformations had taken hold in the

total fetishization of object relations and the collec-

sphere of artistic production and r eception, w hich


ti ve cult

of marketing and branding; rather, the y per-

we had until that moment naively associated with

fo rm, if anything, parasitic assimilation to the very

those other institutions of the public sphere w here

codes that enforce universal fetishiz ation.

Th ey enact

the production of knowledge and the memory of experience had been socially sustained and collected:

an homage to precisely those subjects and corpora- tions that sustain their regimes by enforcing the dictates of a collectively operative pathology, the


of multifaceted transformation s, at first develop-

narcissistic systems of compulsive distinction.


slowly yet stead il y, soon picked up a precipitous

pace a nd expa nded globall y. I will enumerate

of these perceived changes, in the manner of a para-

and threats h as o nly diagnosis

noiac whose list of enemies


increased continu ously ever since the initial of the conditio n.

THE FIRST- and perhaps most startling-symptom was the em er gence of a hitherto totally unknow n social species, the blindly producing purveyors and the blindly ingesting consumers of culture (blindness, for the time being, simply defined here as absolute diffidence and total indifference with respect to any remotely rigorous criteria of evaluation). Under the conditions of affluence reigning among the newly emerging subclass of Wall Street financiers, real estate speculators, and state-sponsored plutocrats in Western societies, a n ew generation of artists- Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Takashi M urakami, and Richard Prince, to name only a few-a nd their respec- tive collectors, speculators, and spectators positioned themselves as the chosen representatives of the cul- ture of these social strata. Their pe rceptio ps and con- scio usness had been partially formed by the politica lly administered cynicism toward, if not the outright defamation of, the legacies of utopian and critical po litical thought of the twentieth ce ntury- a cyn i- cism all the more triumphant after the fall of the

Above: Advertisement for Vidal Sassoon hair spray featuring Andy Warhol, 1985. Photo:

Andrew UnangstjCorbis.

Below: Damlen Hirst, Hymn, 1999-2005, painted bronze. Installation view, Tate Modern, London, 2012. Photo: Oli Scarff/ Getty Images.



Ekkehard Schall playing the title role In the Berliner Ensemble prod uction Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg

Ekkehard Schall playing the title role In the

Berliner Ensemble prod uction

Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ul (The

Res istible Rise of Arturo Ul), 1941, directed by

Peter Palltzsch, Theater am Schitfbauerdamm, Berlin, March 23,1959. Photo : BettmannjCorbis .

of Bertoli Brecht's

Below, from left: VIew of the 9th Gwangju Blennale, 2012, Gwangju Biennale Hall, Gwangju. Photo: Orlando Vicente. Sotheby's auction of Roy Lichtenstein's Sl eeping Girl, 1964, New York, May 9, 2012. Phot o: Mario lama/Getty Images. Frieze Art Fair, New York, May 5, 2012. Photo:

Graham Carlow.

Art Fair , New York, May 5, 2012. Photo: Graham Carlow. 256 ARTFORUM We cannot rea



We cannot rea ll y cu ltura l pr oducers a

ca ll this new socia l s tratum of class, ye t its mem ber s (if much

unthinka ble at any earlier mom ent in, t he history of modernity. Museum directors such as G lenn

better dressed and perhaps more polished in their

ers, rag and bone merchants, beggars, and other

Low ry at the M useum

of M ode rn Art in New York

simulated manners) bear astonishing similarities to what Marx had long before identified as the

and Nicholas Serota at Tate Modern in the gen ius to identify the d esires a nd

Lond on had demands of

Lumpenproletariat. In his essay "The Eighteenth

these new publics early on, and they would cater to

Brumaire of Lo uis Napo leon" (1 852), Marx refers to the lumpens as the " refuse of all classes," includ- ing "swindlers, confidence tricksters, brothel keep-

flotsam of societ y," a class fract ion that constituted the political power base for Louis Bonaparte of France in 1848. Marx argues that Bonaparte only succeeded in positioning himself above th e two main classes, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, by seem- ingly aligning himself with the lumpens, a n appar- entl y independent base of power. In truth, Louis was deeply committed to advancing the material interests

this new class of cultural consumer a nd spectacle tou ri st, whose perceptu a l sensorium cohered a lm ost magnetically around those artists who created eco- nomic surplus value at near-mythical rates and with a velocity unheard of in any previous era of cultural production, including even that w hi c h unde rwrote Wa rhol 's own meteoric ascent. This was the moment when artists such as M arina Abramovic recognized that the time had come for them to full y and finally identify with the seemingly inescapable order of spectacularization as the fo un- dational modus of their practice. Thus not only

of the "finance a ristocracy," which, exactly

like the

could they triumphantly efface the last residual dif-

lumpenproleta ria t, did not have an y di rect


ferences between spectacle and the sphere of cultural

in any actua l productive enterprises. Th e similari ti es

to the people presently populating the various spheres of contemporary cultural production a nd

production that the neo -avant-garde in its more com- plex postwar figures and moments had still desper- atel y attempted to maintain; they cou ld also exte nd

th e

legitimation of sp ectacle's r egime deep er into

distribution, the so-called art world, are striking, in spite of the semblances of distinction a nd optica l

differentiation provided by the apparatus of the fash- ion industry.

Yet few, if any, o f th ese new spec tators p ositio n t hemselves in the privileged places

collectors and producers who succeeded in entering the ascendant celebrity culture. At best, the rapidly expa nding class o f ga llery- and museumgoers wo uld defi ne themselves as compet ent consumers of con- temporary art, as the spectatorial strata disseminat- ing the new culture of total affirmation, operating in the institutional and commercia l intersections where advertis ing and t he circulation of the commodities of

could o f th e

the registers of subject formation, making their audiences masochistically celebrate their own proper

spectacle as th e universa lly va lid and condition of experien ce.

In this way, contemporary artistic practices have beco me totally dependent on a neo li beral su bjectivity for which the entire s pectrum of once-radica l avant-

garde legacies is now available as gratuito usly excha ngea ble devices if not gadgets. Under the cur- rent c ul t ural di spen satio n, affirma ti on of cor porate culture ca n be fused with rem nants of a critical sub- version of discursive and institutional formations in any imaginable manner. Even formal regressions that

subj ec tion to incontesta ble

art take

place (frenetically active at the o pen ings of

had ini tia ll y been deployed to ind uce the labo r


ga llery a nd mu se um exhibitions, as well as within the

historica l memory can now be turned into more


trave lin g c ircuits of biennials,

auctions, a rt fa irs,

and so on). In short, what had emerged in the 1980s

was a new public and a new apparatus of cultura l- industrial production heretofore unknown to, and

cultura l- industrial production heretofore unknown to, and l ess instantaneo us spectacularization (as evi dent

less instantaneo us spectacularization (as evi dent in

the recent work of Christian Boltanski a nd Anselm Kiefer, to cite only the most prominent exemplar s). Just as ar chitects, since the ver y beginning of the

a nd Anselm Ki efe r, to cite only the most prominent exemplar s). Just as
twentieth century, have inevitably succumbed (with rare exceptions) to conflating and eventually inte- grating into

twentieth century, have inevitably succumbed (with rare exceptions) to conflating and eventually inte-

grating into their projects both the ideological and the economic structures they were bidden to serve, artists have been increasingly integrated into an ever- expanding structure of cultural control by mirroring in their work the apparatus of industrialized culture

itself. And their production is incorpor ated immedi- ately within tho se systems of representation such as

advertising and commodity design that stand in constant need of expanding the audiences and con- sumers of what are now the professionalized and stan- dardized domains of premeditated excess, regress, and transgress-the very parameters that once defined the aesthetic sphere. Once the radical, utopian sociopolitical horizons that had previously licensed avant-garde 'practices as agencies of actual transformation of cognition and perception had been foreclosed, all criteria of the judgment of artistic objects were inevitably erased as well. After all, according to w hat criterion shou ld

Anewgeneration ofartists claimed the legacies ofDuchamp and Warhol without so much as an atom of the transgressive and subversive intelligence that these two putative forebears had historically initiated.

View of "The Unilever Series:

Carsten Holler: Test Site; 2006-2007, Tate Modern, London . Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/ Getty Images.

Marina Abramovli:, The Artist Is Presen t, 2009. Performance view, Museum of Modem Art, New York, March 9, 2010. Photo: Scott Rudd.

artistic production be judged, if not by its dialectical capacities of critical negativity and utopian anticipa- tion? What had previously been the rarest of condi- tions-namely, the exceptional credibility of artistic propositions, wherein a partial and temporary relapse in to quasi-mythica l fo rms of experience, ca lled aes- thetic, could be reluctantly accepted-had now been

for universally sp here of pro-

turned into pseudodemocr atic claims accessible a rtistic comp eten ce in the

duction, buttressed by the matching myth of a uni- versally available competence in the sphere of artistic reception. What had been singul arized in the avant- gardes' acts of artistic production, precisely by the radicality of their critiques or the plenitude of their anticipatory visions, or by their perpetual redefini- tion of what might still qualify credibly as aesthetic experience under the conditions of late-capitalist totalitarian consumption, was now effaced in the universal deception of artistically disguised sham operations. A new generation of artists claimed the legacies of Duchamp and Warhol without so much

claimed the legacies of Duchamp and Warhol without so much as an atom of the transgressive

as an atom of the transgressive and subversive intel- ligence that these two puta tive forebears h ad his- torically initiated. From Olafur Eliasson's apparatus of technocra tic deception to the remedial and con- ci liatory pseudocritiques of Allora & Calzadilla and Francis Alys, from t he parasitical practices of Francesco Vezzoli to the spectacularized social sadism of Santiago Sierra (now extending even to the recent work of Thomas Hirschhorn), contemporary artists embrace spectacle in its totality, making it the very basis of their projects, without a shred of evi- dence that they have so much as attempted the neces- sary and increasingly difficult steps of devising projects of countermemory and counterspectacle of the sort manifestly articulated in the work of artists such as Sekula and Harun Farocki. This state of affairs was at least to some degree the immediate result of a much larger process of

de-skill ing and

strategies t hat had , paradoxically, been defin ed

integral to the avant-gardes since the first decade of

of aesthetic desublimation, the two




Above: Santiago Sierra, Septima acto: 8 hombres de raza negra penetraron a 8 mujeres de

Above: Santiago Sierra, Septima acto: 8 hombres de raza negra

penetraron a 8 mujeres de raza

blanca (Seventh act: 8 black race

men penetrated 8 white race

women), 2008, black-andwhite photograph, 55 x 98". From Los Penetrados (The Penetrated),

2008, El Torax, Terrassa , Spain.

Below: Francesco Veuoll, Enjoy the New Fragrance (Lee Miller for Greed), 2009, ink-jet print on brocade; wool; cotton and metallic embroidery; custom jewelry,


and metallic embroidery; custom jewelry, 70%x51Y,". 258 ARTFORUM the twentieth century, if not already in the



the twentieth century, if not already in the nineteenth- century modernist subversions of the academy and the Beaux-Arts traditions. Thus, in one of the great paradoxes of the inversion of utopian radicality into its opposite, a condition of universal aesthetic entropy, we have seen how two of the most important artistic epistemes of the twentieth century-the principle of a total de-skilling, as embodied in Duchamp's work, and the principle of a universally accessible artistic authorial identity, as embodied in the Romantic lineage from Lautreamont to Joseph Beuys's procla- mation that "everyone is an artist"-have in fact resulted in the most catastrophic assimilation of artistic production to the principles of advanced capitalist consumer culture. Concomitant with this process of de-skilling and the consequent effacement of criteria of evaluation and distinction came the deprofessionalization of the critic: deprofessionalization in terms of both the delegitimation of the critical functions within a system of divided powers (i.e., the division between the discursive orders of the museum, the market, the media, the collectors, and, formerly, the historian and the critic) and the dissolution of actual criteria according to which the antinomic hierarchy of

artistic production could be eval uated. (By antinomic hierarchy I mean the violence of aesthetic differen- tiation and exclusion as being constitutive of the very definition of aesthetic experience. It is the condition that Adorno once famously described as the fact that every work of art is the fatal and deadly enemy of every other.) Precisely to sustain this extraordinary paradox of the aesthetic experience-namely, that art offers one last instantiation of mythical experience in order to sublate myth once and for all and thereby to eman- cipate art's spectators from myth's reign-was the very ambition of the anti-aesthetic from the begin- ning. And this defining objective of polarized opposi- tion necessitates the most rigorous distinction and finally disqualification of hierarchical order. Yet such a challenge to hierarchy is the exact opposite of a seemingly liberal-democratic reign of a laissez-faire aesthetic pluralism serving as the handmaiden of a laissez-faire neoliberal capitalism. It is not implausible at all, then, that under these historical conditions the industrially produced self and the artistically and politically constituted subject of spectacularized alterity have been increasingly assimilated and eventually collapsedinto each other. Or rather, they have been programmatically effaced in order to resemble each other and find a forced reconciliation between artistic principles and the experiential patterns of the fashion and culture industries. When boundaries have been increasingly eliminated, by historical and economic erosion as much as by ideological planning, it is hardly surpris- ing that the attraction is mutual: The rapidly chang- ing cycles of the fashion and culture industries increasingly depend for their mythical reproductions on some allegedly foundational referent, serving to simulate the status of a value-retaining and value- increasing fetish object, which is, of course, the actual function of the visual artistic object today, given its complete and final removal from precisely that sphere that once opened onto a realm of politi- cal possibility and the probability of social agency. One of the questions to be asked, then, is whether any criteria of judgment whatsoever might be reinstituted, and, if so, to which registers of social and subjective experience and construction they could possibly refer. Yet simply by invoking the term criterion, it becomes instantly evident that the very concept is charged with a profoundly reaction- ary structuring of experience. After all, the criteria of distinction, of qualitative differentiation, have always been dictated from above, from the judgment seat of power. We only have to remember that it was always bourgeois white men such as T. S. Eliot and Gottfried Benn in the first half of the twentieth cen- tury who insisted on the laws of aesthetic quality

What is left available to us that we could call criteriaofdistinction and judgmentthatwould not immediately appear as resignation, melancholia, or a restoration of some lost aesthetic, toppled authority, orrelinquished cultural privilege ofthe bourgeoisie ofthe past?

View of "Harun Farockl: Images of War (at a Distance); 2011-12, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2011. From left: AugejMaschine II (Eye/Machine II), 2002; Auge; Maschine Ill, 2003. Photo:

Jonathan Muzikar.

when confronted for the first time with the possibil- ity of emerging proletarian practices of cultural pro- duction. And, later, in the 1960s and '70s, when feminist artistic practices emerged, it was once again the patriarchal authorities who attacked feminist and politicized practices most vociferously. More recently, as artistic practices have emerged increas- ingly from outside the European and North American orders, the call for criteria of quality has risen anew from the voice of white-male patriarchal power; as always, in the name of defending tradition. Under these historical circumstances, could it be worth- while, or even possible, to reconsider the question of the criteria of judgment and evaluation-a nd, if so, what function could a renewed definition of criteria possibly serve? The desublimation of criteria entailed by the anti- aesthetic impulses of the twentieth century had aimed at a broad spectrum of social effects, of which we can sketch out only the most obvious and important ones: the collectivization of access to cultural repre- sentation, the dismantling of the classist exclusivity of bourgeois culture, the disfigurement and eventual elimination of the residual yet powerful mythical implications of visual representations and their innate bond with the desire for prelinguistic and mythical forms of experience. And not even Warhol had suc-

ceeded in oblitera ting

emancipatory project of cultural desublimation, but he had pointed in the direction of things to come.

all traces of the anti-aesthetic's

Indeed, the artistic practices that have evolved since the late '80s, often by artists claiming Warhol's mantle (yet again, Koons, Hirst, Murakami, and Prince, and, more recently, lesser figures such as Rob Pruitt), promulgate precisely the opposite of an emancipatory desublimation. Such practices have instead effected an actual des ublimation in which the ruling conditions of totalitarian consumer culture have been affirmatively celebrated as utterly inexo- rable and as intrinsically connected to any and all forms of cultural representation. In other words, we have been confronted with a dual desublimation:

The first one dismantles the practices of artistic pro- duction themselves, as it programmatically denies that artistic practices might be anything but cynical affirmation of the established order; the second declares outright that defiance of and distantiation from the totalitarian regime of consumption are by now positions altogether unavailable to the contemporary spectatorial subject. These artists, mere barnacles on the Duchamp and Warhol lega- cies, accept-and their work, wittingly or not, urges us to accept-this framework of a spectacularized culture of consumption that brooks neither contesta- tion nor conflict, transgression nor opposition, and stands impervious to critical negativity or semio- logical deconstruction.


extreme forms of spectacularized exchange value

THE SEEMINGLY IRRESISTIBLE MAGNETISM of the extreme forms of spectacularized exchange value DECEMBER 2012 259



Above: Rob Pruitt, The Andy Monument, 2011, cement, chromed fiberglass and polyester resin, concrete. Installation

Above: Rob Pruitt, The Andy Monument, 2011, cement, chromed fiberglass and polyester resin, concrete. Installation view, East 17th Street and Broadway, New York, 2011. Photo: James Ewing.

Below: James Franco at the opening of "Rebel,• 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, May 12, 2012. Photo: Russ Ellioi/AP.

. I I I f I l



Photo: Russ Ellioi/AP. . I I I f I l 260 ARTFORUM generated by objects of

generated by objects of modernist and postmodernist artistic production has even left its impact on the more industrially advanced spheres of the culture industry. Thus we are witness to an increasingly fran- tic attraction among the hordes of Hollywood to whatever ruins of artistic practices and institutions they are able to invade and subject to their semiotic and economic takeover. Here the paradox functions as follows: Precisely because the artist's role in open- ing utopian political and semiological perspectives to actual change has been utterly vacated, the former position of the artist and the new position of the full- time employee of the culture industry become not only more similar but also more mutually attractive. Eventually they can easily be collapsed into each other, as witnessed in the emergence of such comi- cally grotesque hybrid and hubristic media creatures as the first real Hollywood Museum Man, Jeffrey Deitch, or James Franco, who, amid the applause of the art world's minions, can claim both the movie industry and painting as his prime domains. With these examples firmly in mind, we have finally to recognize that the spaces and practices of cultural production no longer provide any respite or refuge, no rescue or redemption, from the universal laws of pro- duction that have by now permeated every domain of social experience and every fiber of the constitution of the subject, in manners unimaginable only three decades ago, when artistic practices still could define themselves as originating in a sphere of oppositionality and critique. Therefore, one of the tasks with which critics and historians might still be entrusted is to define those criteria that are not intrinsically bound to the reconstitution of privileged forms of experience. I will delineate here, by way of multiple lines of inquiry, only the crudest outline of the discursive forms within which these criteria might be established. First, we must query artistic practices with respect to their implicit or explicit reflection on the actually existing conditions of social representation and ideo- logical affirmation. And we would demand of any artistic production that it specifically consider, in each of its instantiations, to whom it is addressed and with whom, if at all, it would intend to commu- nicate. Inevitably, under such critical pressures, these practices would come to discover and recognize that under current conditions they have assumed as one of their primary tasks the effacement of any reflec- tion on social class. And then we must further pres- sure artistic practices to reflect on this disavowal, one of the gua'rantors of an artist's economic success in the present. After all, the enduring and comprehen- sive amnesia of class is a foundational condition for the culture of the neoliberal petite bourgeoisie. Which leads us to our next question: What would it mean to sustain, let alone return to, any particular

aesthetic value of the past? For example, could we effect a return to the specificity of an autonomous aesthetic experience, such as painting, and reclaim its unique and peculiar temporality? Could we salvage

the particularity of any of the great painterly idioms of the past in the discussions of visual representations in the present, under the purview of the digital empires that rule our existence in forms hardly understood, without advocating an aesthetically- and, by impli- cation, a sociopolitica lly-conservative position? And if we were indeed to advocate such a return to the slowness of painterly perception, to attempt to redeem or at least to preserve any residually accessible for ms of the differentiation of subjectivity and to sustain historical memory, how would such ambitions fare within the broader perspective of a collectively structured project of emancipatory cul- tural politics? Furthermore, how could such a project be enacted, even if only in its most elementary forms

of a n aesthetic pedagogy-s ince that is the one

domain of praxis to which academics and critics gen- erally have access-rather than within an actual politics, from which they are explicitly barred or

which th ey are press ured to refrain ? Finally,


what is left available to us that we could call criteria of distinction and judgment that would not immedi- ately appear as resignation, melancholia, or a resto-

lost a es thet ic, topp led a uthorit y, o r

relinquished cultural privilege of the bourgeoisie of

the past? One possible strategy is to intensify the annihilat- ing forces of the anti-aesthetic, undoubtedly one of

the most precarious and the most difficult courses to sustain, as Andrea Fraser, John Knight, and Tino

Sehgal ca n surely

without fusing it with its own spectacularization is one of the greatest challenges that artists c ur rently face, or so it seems to me, since the spectacularization of negation and the spectacularization of the anti- aesthetic themselves have by now become integral elements in the arsenal of spectacle. Inevi tably, one then asks, W h y not r etu rn t o the more solid ground of artistic skills, mobilizing w hat seems to pr ovide a warranty against these forces? After all, a resurrection of skills , a reskilling, has worked very well for reinstituting mythical forms of pa interly id entity. But the problem, of course, is that

what is at stake in t he desire fo r r eturns of any k ind, be they artistic or art historical, is an implicit and

pr ivi lege d forms of expe rience ,

a quest whose r eac tio nary implications art: instantly plausible. Shoring up what is being threatened with

disappearance might be a perfectly fine private moti- vation, but I doubt that it could qualify as a strategy of cultural and critical politics. H owever, another force becomes apparent in the desire for r eturns ,

rat ion of some

attest. To sus tain t he anti -aes thetic

explicit restoration of

and it turns out to be the most important counter-

discourse to collective spectaculariza ti o n-to wit, the mnemonic functions of culture, both individu- ally and collective ly practiced. But ye t aga in, w ith the exception of the extraordinary work of James Coleman, hardly any artistic practice is known to me that has ra dically committed itself to making the enactment of historical reflection o ne of its funda- mental strategies and hasn't fallen prey, as did Kiefer


and spectacularization of memory, against which memory had initially risen to retrieve alternate his- tories, different forms of existence, incommensurable models of constructing subjectivity and social rela- tions. And t hi s may well h ave bee n the lesson of Marcel Broodthaers, who perpetually posed the question of whether memory could ever be enacted aesthetically without contributing to an acceleration of the fetishization of culture and an expansion of spectacle itself. Thus the project of imparting visibil- ity to the very classes and peoples, the very spaces and sites, where history has remained nameless and without image an d for whom cultural representation would in fact lead to an initiating constitution of historical identity could be one of the remaining functions of radical cultural practices, rather than an affirmation of past va lues and pr ivileges now r es ur-

rected to reassert t h e va ni shing basis of cultural legitimation defining Western societies. 0

Bolta nski, to the aest hetic instrumentalization




HARVARD UNIVERSITY. (SEE CONTRIBUTORS.) W. MELLON PROFESSOR Above: John Knight, Curb Appeal, a work In situ,

Above: John Knight, Curb Appeal, a work In situ, 1966/ 2012, bronze hood, chain, garden stones. Installation view, Whitney Biennial 2012, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Below: James Col eman,

So Different

color video on LED screen, 50 minutes. Installation view, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2009.

and Yet, 1980,

LED screen, 50 minutes. Installation view, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2009. and Yet, 1980,