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Dening Contemporary Art25 years in 200 pivotal artworks

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Works commencing 1986 Gnther Frg Untitled Jeff Koons Rabbit Bruce Nauman Violent Incident: Man-Woman Segment Luc Tuymans Gas Chamber Mark Manders Inhabited for a Survey (First Floor Plan from Self-Portrait as a Building) Works commencing 1987 16 18 20 22 Matthew Barney Drawing Restraint 1 Jimmie Durham Self-Portrait Peter Fischli and David Weiss The Way Things Go Mike Kelley More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid Cildo Meireles Mission/Missions (How to Build Cathedrals) Philip Taaffe Intersecting Balustrades Rosemarie Trockel Untitled (Made in Western Germany) Cindy Sherman Untitled Huang Yong Ping The History of Chinese Painting and the History of Modern Western Art Washed in the Washing Machine for Two Minutes Peter Fischli and David Weiss Visible World Works commencing 1988 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 Michael Asher Untitled Leigh Bowery Untitled Martin Kippenberger Untitled Adrian Piper Cornered Gerhard Richter October 18, 1977 Group Material Democracy Allan Sekula Fish Story Chohreh Feyzdjou Product of Chohreh Feyzdjou 76 78 80 82 52

Works commencing 1989 Overview of the year 1989 by Okwui Enwezor Alighiero Boetti Map Philip-Lorca diCorcia Vittorio Mona Hatoum The Light at the End Isaac Julien Looking for Langston Barbara Kruger Untitled (Your body is a battleground) Cady Noland Oozewald Richard Prince Untitled (Cowboy) Lorna Simpson Guarded Conditions Doris Salcedo Untitled Works commencing 1990 Damien Hirst A Thousand Years Sherrie Levine La Fortune (After Man Ray) Christopher Wool Untitled Vija Celmins Untitled (Ocean) Works commencing 1991 84 86 88 90 92 Glenn Brown Atom Age Vampire Stan Douglas Monodramas Flix Gonzlez-Torres Untitled (Placebo) Andreas Gursky Siemens, Karlsruhe Glenn Ligon Untitled (I am an invisible man) Paul McCarthy Bossy Burger David Wojnarowicz Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration Michael Schmidt U-NI-TY Works commencing 1992 100 Overview of the year 1992 by Bob Nickas 106 Stan Douglas Hors-champs

108 Jeff Koons Puppy 110 Charles Ray Fall 91 112 Rirkrit Tiravanija untitled 1992 (free) 114 Jeff Wall Dead Troops Talk (A vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter 1986) 116 Fred Wilson Mining the Museum 118 Cecilia Edefalk Echo Works commencing 1993 120 Overview of the year 1993 by Massimiliano Gioni 126 Eija-Liisa Ahtila Okay, Me/We, Gray 128 Chantal Akerman From the East 130 Pawe Althamer Self-Portrait 132 Janine Antoni Lick and Lather 134 John Currin Girl in Bed 136 Olafur Eliasson Beauty 138 Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster Robert Walser Vitrine 140 Douglas Gordon 24 Hour Psycho 142 Hans Haacke GERMANIA 144 Jenny Holzer Lustmord 146 Steve McQueen Bear 148 Gabriel Orozco La DS 150 Thomas Schtte United Enemies 152 Wolfgang Tillmans Corinne on Gloucester Place 154 Rachel Whiteread House 156 Angela Bulloch Rules Series Works commencing 1994 158 Matthew Barney Cremaster 4 160 Bill T. Jones Still/Here 162 Sarah Lucas Au Naturel 164 Nancy Spero Black and the Red III

166 Kara Walker Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart Works commencing 1995 168 Richard Artschwager Untitled 170 Martin Creed Work No. 127: The Lights Going On and Off 172 Ceal Floyer Door 174 Mike Kelley Educational Complex 176 Martin Kippenberger METRO-Net station, Dawson City 178 Yinka Shonibare How Does a Girl Like You Get To Be a Girl Like You? 180 Isa Genzken I Love New York, Crazy City 182 Kay Hassan Flight 184 Robert Gober Untitled Works commencing 1996 186 Tacita Dean Disappearance at Sea 188 Rene Green Partially Buried in Three Parts 190 William Kentridge History of the Main Complaint 192 Pipilotti Rist Sip My Ocean 194 Rineke Dijkstra The Buzzclub, Liverpool, UK/ Mysteryworld, Zaandam, NL, 1996-1997 196 Hans-Peter Feldmann 100 Years 198 Liam Gillick The What If? Scenario 200 Koo Jeong A Untitled (mothball) Works commencing 1997 202 Overview of the year 1997 by Bice Curiger 208 Francis Als The Loop 210 Fiona Banner The Nam 212 Thomas Demand Bathroom 214 Aye Erkmen Sculptures on Air

216 Carsten Hller and Rosemarie Trockel A House for Pigs and People 218 Dieter Roth Solo Scenes 220 Tania Bruguera The Burden of Guilt 222 Johan Grimonprez dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y 224 Meschac Gaba Museum of Contemporary African Art (Draft Room) Works commencing 1998 226 Shirin Neshat Turbulent 228 Anri Sala Intervista 230 Rebecca Warren Helmut Crumb 232 Zoe Leonard Tree + Fence Series 234 Sheela Gowda And Tell Him of My Pain 236 On Kawara Pure Consciousness 238 the land Foundation the land Works commencing 1999 240 Doug Aitken Electric Earth 242 Monica Bonvicini I Believe in the Skin of Things as in that of Woman 244 Louise Bourgeois Maman 246 Mary Heilmann The Third Man 248 Mark Leckey Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore 250 Michel Majerus what looks good today may not look good tomorrow 252 Lily van der Stokker Old People Making Spectacularly Experimental Art 254 Gillian Wearing Drunk 256 Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno No Ghost Just A Shell 258 Walid Raad The Atlas Group Archive 260 Carl Michael von Hausswolff Red 262 Lamia Joreige Objects of War Works commencing 2000 264 Overview of the year 2000 by Suzanne Cotter

270 Pawe Althamer Brdno 2000 272 Peter Doig 100 Years Ago 274 Harun Farocki I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts 276 Isa Genzken Fuck the Bauhaus 278 Pierre Huyghe The Third Memory 280 Sarah Morris Capital 282 Tino Sehgal Instead of allowing some things to rise up to your face, dancing bruce and dan and other things 284 Toms Saraceno Venice 2024 2400 Works commencing 2001 286 Overview of the year 2001 by Connie Butler 292 Maurizio Cattelan Him 294 Jeremy Deller The Battle of Orgreave 296 Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster Beaches 298 Rodney Graham The Phonokinetoscope 300 Steven Parrino Skeletal Implosion #3 302 Gregor Schneider Totes Haus u r 304 Thomas Struth Pergamon Museum Berlin 306 Fiona Tan Saint Sebastian 308 Emily Jacir Where We Come From 310 Rivane Neuenschwander Involuntary Sculptures (Speech Acts) Works commencing 2002 312 John Bock Gribbohm II b 314 David Hammons Concerto in Black and Blue 316 Thomas Hirschhorn Bataille-Monument 318 Chris Ofili The Upper Room 320 Damin Ortega Cosmic Thing 322 Laura Owens Untitled 324 Lygia Pape Web I, C 326 Pascale Marthine Tayou Game Station

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328 Seth Price Dispersion Works commencing 2003 330 Olafur Eliasson The Weather Project 332 Ellsworth Kelly Ground Zero Proposal 334 Klara Lidn Paralyzed 336 Renata Lucas Crossing 338 Tobias Rehberger Seven Ends of the World 340 Rudolf Stingel Untitled 342 Akram Zaatari This Day 344 Yang Fudong Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest Works commencing 2004 346 Nathalie Djurberg Tiger Licking Girls Butt 348 Trisha Donnelly The Redwood and the Raven 350 Cao Fei COSPlayers Works commencing 2005 352 Marina Abramovi Seven Easy Pieces 354 Kutlu Ataman Kba 356 Paul Chan 1st Light 358 Karen Kilimnik Installation in the Haus zum Kirschgarten at Historisches Museum, Basel 360 Maria Lassnig Lady in Plastic 362 Louise Lawler Grieving Mothers (Attachment) 364 Joan Jonas The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Thing 366 Sigmar Polke Axial Age 368 Yto Barrada Cinmathque de Tanger Works commencing 2006 370 Tomma Abts Meko 372 Carol Bove The Night Sky Over Berlin, March 2, 2006, at 9pm 374 Marlene Dumas The Believer

376 Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno Zidane: A Twenty First Century Portrait 378 Wade Guyton Untitled 380 Carsten Hller Test Site 382 Alfredo Jaar The Sound of Silence 384 Jason Rhoades Black Pussy Soire Cabaret Macram 386 Simon Starling Wilhelm Noack oHG 388 Wolfgang Tillmans paper drop (gold) 390 Kelley Walker Black Star Press (Rotated 180 Degrees) 392 Haegue Yang Sadong 30 394 Chu Yun Constellation Works commencing 2007 396 El Anatsui Dusasa I and II 398 Micol Assal Chizhevsky Lessons 400 Urs Fischer You 402 Rachel Harrison Voyage of the Beagle 404 Sharon Hayes Everything Else Has Failed! Dont You Think Its Time For Love? 406 Odili Donald Odita Give Me Shelter 408 Gerhard Richter Cologne Cathedral Window 410 Josh Smith Untitled 412 Ai Weiwei Fairytale Works commencing 2008 414 Overview of the year 2008 by Daniel Birnbaum 420 Nairy Baghramian La Lampe dans lhorloge 422 Huma Bhabha Bumps in the Road 424 Roberto Cuoghi uillakku 426 Falke Pisano The I and the You 1 428 Dayanita Singh Sent a Letter 430 Cerith Wyn Evans and Throbbing Gristle A=P=P=A=R=I=T=I=O=N

432 Roni Horn a.k.a. 434 Barry X Ball Sleeping Hermaphrodite 436 Christodoulos Panayiotou Wonder Land; Never Land; I Land Works commencing 2009 438 Miroslaw Balka How It Is 440 Keren Cytter Four Seasons 442 Artur mijewski Democracies 444 Richard Hamilton Unorthodox Rendition Works commencing 2010 446 Overview of the year 2010 by Hans Ulrich Obrist 452 Christian Boltanski The Life of C. B. 455 467 470 472 Round-table discussion Notes Artworks listed by author Index

1986 Gnther Frg Untitled Installation with framed photographs, mirrors, house paint Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland

Bice Curiger
Gnther Frg belongs to a generation of artists who, emerging at the end of the 1970s, witnessed the collapse of the modernist paradigm. With a certain melancholy, his art obliquely laments this demise while simultaneously exploding modernisms conventions. Long before notions of installation and site-specificity gained common currency in Germany, he had developed a multidisciplinary practice in which painting, photography, sculpture and drawing were all deployed and often exhibited simultaneously. His 1986 exhibition at the Kunsthalle Bern is a pivotal example of his combinative practice and the powerful, immersive environments created by his monumental installations. Spread across five rooms, this installation included large-scale architectural and portrait photographs hung in calculated relation to expansive monochrome wall paintings and two equally large scale wall-mounted mirrors. The atypical juxtaposition of these different modes underscored his anxiety regarding the emerging postmodern paradigm and forcefully reflected (quite literally in the case of the mirrors and the reflective glass covering his photographs) what he perceived as cultures current state of flux. Frgs interest in architecture developed at the beginning of the 1980s, coinciding with his adoption of photography. Today we are used to seeing large-scale photographs on the walls of galleries, but in the mid-1980s they were a much rarer sight, lending his installations a powerful impetus. Ambivalent space permeated his photographs in Bern. Photographic details of iconic modernist buildings from the 1920s and 1930s were hung throughout the Kunsthalle, including an image of the stepped roof of the Italian villa Casa Malaparte in Capri, which referenced the role the building had played in Jean-Luc Godards 1963 film Le Mpris (Contempt). In other rooms there were closely cropped shots of the Casa del Fascio in Como a municipal building commissioned as the local headquarters of the National Fascist Party, conceived as an elegant set piece for Fascist mass 6

rallies and interior views of Mies van der Rohes Haus Lange in Krefeld, Germany. What captivated Frg was the way in which the architecture of Italian (or Fascist) Rationalism had emerged around he Western world as a received international style testimonies in stone to a sinister past. Compositionally, the photographs are awkward, and this, coupled with the graininess of their expanded scale, bestows them with a curious ambiguity. Also on display, providing a human counterpoint, were large-scale, close-up portraits of women, anticipating the work of Thomas Ruff. For Frg, the experience of architectural space is fraught with psychological and ideological implications. The thick protective glass on the photographs frames reflected the gallery and its visitors, absorbing them into the images. Thus Frg reminds his audience that, although these iconic buildings are now relics of an erstwhile paradigm, they are part of a history whether heroic, sad, dramatic or diabolic to which we all still belong. His installation transformed the Kunsthalle into a monumental space in which his combinations of different vernaculars created visual discrepancies that sought to question the codes and received orthodoxies underpinning these disciplines. Yet, in doing so, Frg was simultaneously able to reinvigorate them.

1986 Jeff Koons Rabbit from the series Statuary Stainless steel 220 x 130 x 160 cm

Massimiliano Gioni
An archetypical image and an icon of an entire decade, Jeff Koonss Rabbit has the coldness of an object not built by human hands. More than just an icily perfect industrial product, it is above all a mental image and an embodiment of desire. The artist prefers to describe it as a chameleon; with its reflective material making it a sort of postmodern Brancusi, Rabbit changes its skin and constantly regenerates itself. It makes room for viewers within itself, swallowing them up, yet it reflects and rejects them, turning the public into a readymade. Like many other Koons pieces that use mirrors as both a metaphor and a material, Rabbit imprisons the observer, reflecting both the artists ego and a mass ego, as Koons has explained in his characteristic sermonizing prose: I wanted to make works that embrace everyones own cultural history and made everybody feel that their history was perfect just the way it was.1 The sculpture was created as part of the Statuary series (1986), in which Koons continued to experiment with casting everyday objects in stainless steel, as he had done in the Luxury and Degradation series earlier that year. Rabbit is the piece that best represents his entire stylistic evolution, combining an obsession with materials raised here to a pinnacle of perfection and simplicity that would become even more evident in the Celebration series (1994-present) and a concern with taste, seen as directly expressing identification with a given social class. The works in the Statuary series not only employ the same materials the stainless steel that the artist calls a material of the proletariat, replacing the gold and silver of the aristocracy but also a fascination with arts capacity to express social aspirations. Contrary to the popular clich that writes him off as an artist for millionaire collectors, since the outset of his career Koons has repeatedly described his work as an exploration of art as a means of social mobility; interviews from the period and the artists little red book, The Jeff Koons Handbook (1992), are brimming with occasionally delirious slogans in which the stainless-steel sculptures are described as panoramic views of society, 8

1986 Jeff Koons Fisherman Golfer from the series Luxury and Degradation Stainless steel 30.5 x 20.5 x 12.5 cm

1928 Constantin Brancusi Bird in Space Polished bronze Height 137 cm

or as objects of affection, concrete projections of desire in which economic and political power is frozen and preserved as evidence of ones own aspirations. Rabbit obviously calls to mind the epic of desire presented by Marcel Duchamps oeuvre; the similarity between Duchamps Fountain and Koonss Rabbit is clear yet almost subliminal. Both are eroticized products of industry, and vessels to be filled by the viewers imagination. Koons has also evoked the work of Salvador Dal and said that if he were to retitle the Rabbit he would call it The Great Masturbator, after Dals famous 1929 painting. Obviously, sexual

references abound in this as in other works by Koons; the Rabbit clearly hints at the Playboy logo, and the carrot has an unequivocal phallic presence, although the artist has at times suggested it might be a microphone, which would turn the rabbit into a politician. Koons has also described the surfaces of the Statuary series, including Rabbit, as pure sex,2 the hard, masculine physicality of the metal coupled with the feminine softness and lightness evoked by the inflatable material. As with any bachelor machine, Rabbit is most likely a sexual hybrid or a hermaphrodite. A sphinx from the age of capitalist realism, it questions us in silence.

1986 Bruce Nauman Violent Incident: Man-Woman Segment Video Colour, sound 30 min.

Bob Nickas
Bruce Nauman is considered one of the most influential artists of his own and subsequent generations. His iconic neon The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign) (1967) is familiar to almost any art student of the past forty years, as are his early performance films and videos. The same cannot be said of the sculptures he made between the mid-1970s and early 1980s, which could easily register as mere formal investigation, departing from the physical/psychological charge of his body- and text-based works. But with the works he produced in the mid1980s a post-punk period that witnessed an intermingling of art, film, music and performance filtered through a sense of alienation and nihilism his status among younger artists changed dramatically. In 1985 he conceived several figurative neon works that relate sex with violence. The stick figure in Hanged Man dies with an erection each time his noose tightens. In Sex and Death By Murder and Suicide, two figures face each other, reaching out to shake hands; one points a knife at the other, the other sticks a gun in its mouth, while crouching figures fellate them and their penises rise and fall. In Punch and Judy: Kick in the Groin, Slap in the Face, a man slaps a woman in the face, and she responds by kicking him in the groin. But the male is visibly aroused by the violence, becoming tumescent each time he slaps her. While all of these pieces reanimate the performative aspect central to Naumans work, in its action and pairing of a male and a female figure, Punch and Judy anticipates one of his most disturbing and enduring works, the video Violent Incident. While the bright, cartoonish format of the neons allows the viewer some distance on the proceedings, the bodies that inhabit Violent Incident are very much flesh and blood, actors hired and rehearsed by the artist to enact an ultimately tragic, albeit slapstick, comedy of manners. The action takes place around a table set formally for two. As Nauman has described the unfolding of the piece, 1. The man holds a chair for the woman as she

1985 Bruce Nauman Hanged Man Neon tubing mounted on metal monolith 218 x 140 x 27 cm

starts to sit down. The man pulls the chair out from under her and she falls to the floor. Man is amused but woman is angry. 2. Man turns and bends over to retrieve the chair and as she gets up she gooses him. 3. Man stands up and turns and faces her now very angry also and calls her a name (shit-asshole-bitchslut-whatever). 4. The woman reaches back to the table and takes a cocktail and throws it in the mans face. 5. Man slaps woman in the face. 6. Woman knees or kicks man in the groin. 7. Man is hurt and bends over, takes knife from table, they struggle and she stabs. 8. He is stabbed. When the table is turned, so to speak, All instructions are the same except the roles are reversed. Woman holds chair for man, pulls it away, man falls, gooses woman; she calls him a name, he throws a drink, she slaps, he kicks, she stabs and he stabs her.3 All of this takes place in a mere twentysix seconds. Over half an hour, the action plays out almost seventy times.

As with many pivotal works of art, Violent Incident comes to be reconciled with the artists previous work yet remains distinct unto itself. In the quarter-century since its inception, it has lost none of its psychic or visceral energy. The romantic dinner, often a prelude to intimacy, is here no less than a prelude to violence and death, and the viewers reaction, almost instantaneous, is still the same after all these years: This is Bruce Nauman?. One recalls as well that by the end of the 1980s his relevance to younger artists had eclipsed that of any other figure from the 1960s, with the exception of Andy Warhol. Nauman was seen as both a historical figure and a contemporary, with the greatest affirmation taking the form of Jessica Diamonds 1989 wall painting YES BRUCE NAUMAN. While others of his generation were content to repeat themselves, Nauman, in this period, reinvented himself. 11

1986 Luc Tuymans Gas Chamber Oil on canvas 50 x 70 cm

Connie Butler
Is it possible to represent the unrepresentable? Are there subjects that are beyond language and understanding? An oil painting made after a watercolour painted at Dachau, Luc Tuymans Gaskamer (Gas Chamber) attempts to dismantle the power of taboo. The very act of making a drawing, a watercolour, at one of the most notorious sites of violence in the twentieth century is, in itself, an absurd and even obscene gesture. But Tuymans strategy is one of confrontation with cultures most hideous and often unspeakable moments images that have no use for language. And, indeed, gazing at this awkwardly succinct painting elicits a visceral response, a kind of creeping nausea at ones own act of spectatorship. Tuymans painted the watercolour and then put it away, deciding the subject was off-limits. Only upon recovering the sketch some years later did he feel ready to bring form to this terrible historical memory a memory that must not be erased. Both horrible and completely seductive, the picture itself functions as a kind of warning against the abstraction of collective violence and grief. Tuymans himself has described the painting as a response to the cultural prohibition around picturing the Holocaust: The Final Solution is something hidden, and I want to integrate that into the cultural discourse. It could be seen as a metaphor for the culture we live in. I see it as something that might happen again, as a possibility. I dont want to take a moral stance, but I want to oppose the taboo aspect of it.4 This notion of that which is hidden or withheld is key to Tuymans work in general. Gaskamer is nothing if not blank evacuated of human presence and nearly void of emotion. As a composition, it dissolves into unresolved pools and planes of off-white, with the sepia tone of the original drawing and its inherent and intentional smudges and unspecific marks transferred to the painting and adapted for their ambiguity and eerie bodily resonance. The painting itself is not large but rather domestically scaled, like many of Tuymans pictures. The innocuousness of an easily apprehensible gas chamber, an image 12

1986 Luc Tuymans Study for Gas Chamber Watercolour and graphite on paper 31 x 40 cm

of horror made more palatable by its nondescript size, blotchy architecture and nearly neutral palate, puts the viewer in mind of Hannah Arendts concept of the banality of evil, often quoted in writing that analyses Tuymans ability to reframe historys most egregious incidents for reconsideration by an unsuspecting public. If good art changes the way we see, then this painting, like Tuymans very best, unsettles the brain like a fever. We honour the subject in exhibiting or describing the painting, then recoil in horror as recognition of it seeps through the abstraction that the artist has imposed. Once painted into existence, it cannot be ignored or excerpted from the artists body of work but rather insists on its own truth both the historical truth of the events of the Holocaust and the obfuscation of representation. The strange, enervated quiet of the work lies in the fact of historys muteness and the illegibility of its images. Like several generations of painters whose works rely on the photographic source, including Richard Hamilton, Gerhard Richter, Marlene Dumas, Mamma Andersson and Peter Doig as well as photographers as diverse as Lewis Baltz and Michael Schmidt, each of whose work depends on the extraction of the historical subject from the mediated image Tuymans takes as a given that historical truth is unknowable. 13

1986-2002 Mark Manders Inhabited for a Survey (First Floor Plan from Self-Portrait as a Building) Writing materials, erasers, painting tools, scissors, various materials Dimensions variable

Massimiliano Gioni
Since 1986, at the age of eighteen, Mark Manders has been working on a piece that can be considered an infinite variation on a theme. Starting with his first collage-sculpture, Inhabited for a Survey (First Floor Plan from Self-Portrait as a Building), he has constructed installations, sculptures, environments and compositions that describe an imaginary architectural design in constant evolution. The building whose floor plan is depicted with maniacal precision in Inhabited for a Survey is a make-believe structure that represents a fictional artist named Mark Manders, an alter ego. First Floor Plan from Self-Portrait as a Building is the mental map of a fictitious place. The roots of this project, Manders has said, were literary and involved a larger cast of characters: I wanted to write a book. With all the writing materials I had, like ballpoints, pencils and erasers, I made a floor plan on the floor. It was a flat building with nine rooms. I called it Inhabited for a Survey and it served as the basis for a written self-portrait, which was to be formed collectively by seven imaginary persons living in the floor plan. It was to be a book without a beginning or an end, one that I would always have to keep working on.5 Each subsequent work by Manders is connected to this first one. He describes his installations and sculptures which combine furniture with the unfired clay figures that are now the best-known element of his work, along with objects reconstructed out of wood and miniaturized or otherwise modified in scale as emanations of that first self-portrait, or as inhabitants of the rooms traced out in the initial floor plan. The model of the self, however, is a shifting one, adjusting with each new venue that Manders inhabits, seemingly modelling the unstable nature of the individual in the modern world. (In a work such as Nocturnal Garden Scene, 2005, with its blackened objects and bisected cat, the counterpoint of an alienating exterior reality appears explicit.) And so, over time, the floor plan has been expanded and altered to house 14

other incarnations of Manderss alter ego, a neurotic, sensitive individual who, as the artist describes him, can only exist in an artificial world.6 Founded on this system, Manderss work appears even more otherworldly than it already is. Confined within an imaginary geography, it seems connected to a lineage of literary predecessors, particularly Georges Perecs toponomastic exercises in his 1978 novel Life: A Users Manual, just as it recalls the precarious constructions of self-taught artists and the obsessive approach of outsider art. Moreover, in Manderss installations there is an attention to detail, a combinatory science that evokes the diagrams and sculptures that psychologist Bruno Bettelheim examined in The Empty Fortress, his 1967 book on the creativity of autistic patients. Manderss art is built around what Harald Szeemann might have referred to as an individual mythology: a system in which legends and parascience are mingled to create a world that grows and changes like a living organism or a Gesamtkunstwerk.

2005 Mark Manders Nocturnal Garden Scene Wood, glass, sand, various materials 220 x 130 x 160 cm

1987 Matthew Barney Drawing Restraint #1 Action Yale University

Connie Butler
When I first encountered Matthew Barneys work, in 1989 at his studio in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan, I recall knowing that I was grappling with something extremely special, unlike any art I had seen. Barney had begun his Drawing Restraint series two years earlier, as an undergraduate at Yale University. Taking as its point of departure his own experience as a competitive athlete (he was quarterback for his high school and college football teams), the work deploys the principle of hypertrophy, the development of muscles in the body in response to increasing resistance. Using his experience of training, with all its resistances to and exertions of energy, he made what might be called a series of studio exercises. Colliding the mismatched activities of drawing and physical discipline, the artist attempted to make a sketch on the upper reaches of his studio wall, jumping, grasping and sometimes failing to control the resulting chaotic marks. Nancy Spector, curator of Matthew Barney: The Cremaster Cycle at the Guggenheim Museum in 2003, has written, As Barneys career developed, the process that had begun in the studio as a rather straightforward transposition from the realms of athletic training and biology to that of aesthetic invention gradually evolved into an elaborate narrative structure. He began to introduce characters and, hence, conflict into the system, so that the element of resistance at the core of his work was no longer self-imposed, but rather part of an intricate dialectical dance between opposing forces.1 The works immediately following Drawing Restraint #1 Field Dressing (1989) and Facility of Decline (1991) unfolded as a performed self-portrait that engaged with notions of masculinity and heteronormative signifiers of gender identity, while at the same time playing with drag and the guises of an inverted hypermasculinity. All of these elements played out through Barneys crude and insistent enlistment of a Beuysian array of alchemical materials. As his work progressed, what began as studio-based sculptural activities became a complex cosmology drawing on sources including the traditional 16

1989 Matthew Barney Field Dressing Action with Vaseline Payne Whitney Gymnasium, Yale University

theatrical genres of opera, kabuki and vaudeville, popular cultural forms such as the Brazilian carnival, the Western rodeo and the Hollywood musical, and the physical feats of Harry Houdini and the writings of Norman Mailer. I was reminded recently of my initial experience of Barneys work when choreographer Ralph Lemon was describing his own first viewing of Bruce Naumans Wall/Floor Positions (1968). Nauman is Barneys most important historical interlocutor, and Drawing Restraint #1 engages in a similar mash-up of body, material and process. Lemon spoke of the shock of seeing Nauman in his studio, isolated from the greater context of the cultural upheaval of the 1960s: What specifically interests me about Wall/Floor Positions beyond its obvious relationship to art and the body, the beautifully ordinary and rigorous movement statement that it is, is the not-so-obvious parallel realities,

of a period in time, of a white art freedom and the black civil rights movement. Body as art material. Body as chattel. Where and how did these forces intersect beyond an inanimate sociology of walls and floors? Was that possible? Does it matter? The proximity of these things is of course precarious.2 The statement immediately recalls the precariousness of Barneys early work. This notion of privilege, of the body in training, as chattel, as something to be moulded by the hierarchical, hyper-masculine culture of athletics, as well as the solitude and impregnable uniqueness of his vision all of these aspects he shares with Nauman. More than any of the milestone works that would follow in the early 1990s, Drawing Restraint #1 signifies the return of contemporary arts interest in the body, performance and sculpture.

1987 Jimmie Durham Self-Portrait Canvas, wood, paint, feather, shell, turquoise, metal 173 x 86 x 29 cm

Connie Butler
Jimmie Durhams practice intentionally defies easy categorization. This defiance, while making it difficult to summarize his career using a typical art-historical narrative, is also what makes it so compelling. Although much of his work could be described as sculpture, his objects, installations, performances, theatrical work, poetry and writing all adhere to an insistence on dialogue, a proposal for intellectual engagement between artist and viewer, one that forces acknowledgement and discussion about the overlap of politics, life and art. Although Durham exhibited in the United States as early as 1965, he moved to Geneva in 1968, eventually attending the cole des Beaux-Arts there. When he returned home in 1973, he lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and worked for the American Indian Movement, with which he remained affiliated until 1980. His understanding of the history of Native Americans and by extension the classification and marginalization of peoples and cultures serves as the key subject matter for his art. Assemblage works from the 1980s often include animal skulls and other organic elements combined with manufactured and commercially recognizable ones, linked by aesthetic relationships and, frequently, by witty insertions of text. If I can stick things together that are physical histories, and they didnt want to go together, but then something intellectual happens when they are together, Im just very pleased, Im very charmed by it, he says. And of course I dont trust it, and I see now Im going to have to find a way out of that.3 For example, in Bedias Muffler (1985) Durham transforms a rusty car part into a mysterious ritual object, covered with leather, beads and paint, and credits it as the discovery of some anthropological explorer from the distant future. Animal skulls, feathers and other materials commonly associated with Native American crafts, as well as kitschy trinkets produced for tourist consumption, all appear in Durhams work, repurposed with a sharp irony that forces us to question our very assumptions about the materials and the cultures we ascribe them to.

Self-Portrait is characteristic of Durhams humorous but extremely tough and cynical take on the art worlds expectations of him as a Native American artist. The roughly life-size figure, cut from canvas and adorned with turquoise, hair, fur and other organic materials, is inscribed with various phrases, starting with HELLO! IM JIMMIE DURHAM. I WANT TO EXPLAIN A FEW BASIC THINGS ABOUT MYSELF. These things include INDIAN PENISES ARE UNUSUALLY LARGE AND COLORFUL (a statement verified by the artwork itself) and MY SKIN IS NOT REALLY THIS DARK, BUT I AM SURE THAT MANY INDIANS HAVE COPPERY SKIN. Very different are the more personal notations I HAVE 12 HOBBIES!, 11 HOUSE PLANTS!, PEOPLE LIKE MY POEMS. Durham the poet/indoor gardener occupies

the same flattened form as Durham the exotic Cherokee stud. They are the same but are clearly in conflict with one another. What lingers about this work and distinguishes it as one of the most significant works of its time the market-saturated, over-inflated, pre-multicultural art world of the 1980s is its supreme awkwardness. It is unforgettable in its ugliness but also in its strange aliveness. The head, rendered in the round (unlike the crude flatness of the body, cut from canvas), bears enough of a resemblance to the artist that it is impossible to dismiss this clumsy agglomeration of a person as the nonperson he claims we think he is. His very presence as a specimen, a work of art, a trophy, a cartoon ushers in the late 1980s, with its return to content, identity and protest. 19

1987 Peter Fischli and David Weiss The Way Things Go 16 mm film Colour, silent 30 min.

Suzanne Cotter
According to artist and writer Jeremy Millars short monograph on Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), there were standing ovations when the work was shown at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1988.4 Thirty minutes in length, Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weisss sixteen-millimetre film presents a delightful staging of everyday objects performing a mechanical ballet of cause and effect. In a sequence of actions recalling W. Heath Robinson the English cartoonist and illustrator who drew ingenious mechanical contraptions to perform everyday activities like making a cup of tea or switching on a light The Way Things Go transforms the mundane and the ordinary into a disarming choreography. The film enacts, in real time, the consequences of the artists earlier scenarios in Equilibres/Stiller Nachmittag (Equilibres/Quiet Afternoon, 1984-85), a series of photographs of domestic objects, such as cheese graters, carrots, chairs and flowerpots, held in tantalizing equilibrium. In The Way Things Go, planks of wood, tyres and watering cans serve as vehicles and routes for a teetering sequence of madcap actions and chain reactions of catalytic processes. A dash of water from a tilting vessel dissolves a dam of foam, an explosion of flour tips a plank that knocks over a bottle, and a boiling kettle bound to an old roller skate races along to the next relay. Seemingly effortless, the film reportedly took two years to make, its continuity the result of multiple short sequences edited together, an elegantly nonchalant exposition of art as artifice. At certain points in the film, the intervention of the artists hands is evident, recalling Alexander Calders assisted performers in Circus, his 1955 film with Jean Painleve. With Fischli and Weiss, however, it is more a question of unabashed revelation than suspension of disbelief. Beyond the pleasurable enjoyment of its inventiveness and the paradoxical logic of its silliness, The Way Things Go also offers a wonderfully open field for thinking about sculpture and about art-making in general. Its absurdist, come-around-go-around movements

1981 Samuel Beckett Quad II Teleplay 4 min.

1984-85 Peter Fischli and David Weiss The Experiment from the series Equilibres/Quiet Afternoon Black and white and colour photographs Dimensions vary from 23 x 31 cm to 41 x 31 cm

hint at Samuel Becketts teleplay Quad (1981) and the early films of Bruce Nauman in which the artist filmed himself walking around his studio at right angles or bouncing in a corner. In The Way Things Go, the idea of the studio as a place of play as much as of play-acting takes centre stage as Fischli and Weisss bricolaged objects, left to the contingency of mechanical forces, perform for the camera their actions as defined by mass, gravity and chemical make-up. It is process art taken to its slapstick extreme. The artists described the elements in the film as objects freed from their principal, intended purpose, with aesthetic decisions left to equilibrium itself.5 The luxurious excess of time wasted is a guiding factor. Sculpture if this is what we are dealing with is revealed as something mobile, in which the pleasure of misuse reigns. 21

1987 Mike Kelley More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid Handmade craft items and afghans sewn onto canvas 244 x 323 x 15 cm foreground: 1987 The Wages of Sin Wax candles on wood, metal base 132 x 59 x 59 cm

Bob Nickas
On the occasion of the 2010 Whitney Biennial, the museum exhibited works acquired for its permanent collection from its previous Biennial and Annual exhibitions, a presentation entitled Collecting Biennials. Mike Kelleys More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid initially shown in New York at Metro Pictures in 1987, then in the 1989 Biennial and later in the artists 1993 retrospective was once again on view. A crowd pleaser, to be sure, though not necessarily so when it was first shown. How often do we think of contemporary artworks as ageing? And what of those that appeared shabby and forlorn to begin with? Installed across from the Kelley was Rauschenbergs Satellite, a 1955 combine painting with a small stuffed pheasant roosting at the top-right edge. The pairing pointed to how works of art that were hard to love when new are embraced once value has accrued. This work of Kelleys, along with contemporaneous works by Cady Noland, introduced notions of the abject to art in the mid-to-late 1980s; unlike fine wine, however, detritus doesnt get better with age, doesnt acquire a patina of nobility. (The clusters of maize at the top corners of Kelleys piece read as absurdly heraldic.) If only More Love Hours had been donated to, not acquired by, the museum. For the artist has spoken of it as arising from the dominant discourse in the art world at the time, that of commodification, framing this work within the tradition of gift-giving, which he equates with indentured slavery: Theres no price, so you dont know how much you owe. The commodity is the emotion. Whats being bought and sold is emotion [...] If each one of these toys took six hundred hours to make then thats six hundred hours of love; and if I gave this to you, you owe me six hundred hours of love; and thats a lot. And if you cant pay it back right away it keeps accumulating 22

1955 Robert Rauschenberg Satellite Taxidermy pheasant, various materials 200 x 110 x 15 cm

[] Thats more love than you can ever pay back. So what? Youre just fucked then. I wasnt even thinking about the objects as objects, I was thinking about them as just hours-of-attention.6 Kelleys first work using stuffed dolls is significant for a number of reasons, foremost among them its intended susceptibility to the viewers associations, all fraught with psychological charge. The mass of dolls, pawed and gnawed by little hands and mouths, may be seen as surrogates for the children themselves, and it is they who innocently molest the inanimate toys given to or made for them. The Wages of Sin (1987), a sculptural work that accompanies More Love Hours, comprises a miniature waxworks. Among the candles, phallic/psychedelic mushrooms predominate, but an owl and a Chianti bottle stand out as well. The drips of melted wax, somewhat cloudy and dirty, resemble semen. Particularly of note is Kelleys introduction of craft in contemporary art, especially against a backdrop of so many bright and shiny consumer objects displayed at that time. (The silvery stainless-steel sculptures of Jeff Koons, from his Luxury and Degradation series,

had appeared the year before; Haim Steinbachs shelf works were omnipresent in this period.) Uninterested in the concept of high and low, Kelley is not engaged in the transformation of something debased into something of worth. He and Noland, too fully understands that material is intrinsically tied to and animates subject matter. Picked up cheaply in thrift stores, Kelleys handmade dolls and afghans also register as womens work. (Noland, for her part, availed herself of metal sheets and poles; many thought that her sculptures, which could be aggressively confrontational, were made by a male artist.) Although More Love Hours has often been related to Abstract Expressionism, this work does not in any way resemble action painting, and a stuffed doll even one with a button eye ripped from its socket is no substitute for an action figure. Installed across from the Rauschenberg, however, it can be seen as a new sort of 'combine, one that, with no trace of nostalgia, uncomfortably collides object and emotion. Now, over twenty years down the line, More Love Hours continues to live up to its name. 23

1987 Cildo Meireles Mission/Missions (How to Build Cathedrals) 600,000 coins, 800 communion wafers, 2,000 bones, 80 paving stones, black cloth 250 x 346 x 346 cm

Okwui Enwezor
It is said that Mexico Citys grand cathedral was constructed atop the ruins of an Aztec temple, beneath which lie the remains of indigenous peoples who perished or were sacrificed there. Every cathedral in the Americas could be viewed through the prism of such a transposition of structures, opening onto histories of mass slaughter, conquest, domination, conversion and spiritual redemption. More importantly, the cathedral as the symbolic heart of la mission civilisatrice situates the act of religious conversion at the nexus of colonialism, and with it the tragedy of genocidal destruction. Within this tragedy stands the figure of the Christian missionary. Cildo Meireles Misso/Misses (Como construir catedrais) (Mission/Missions (How to Build Cathedrals)) was originally conceived for an exhibition in Brazil to commemorate the seven mission settlements founded by the Jesuits between 1610 and 1767 to convert the indigenous peoples in Paraguay, Argentina and the south of Brazil. Like many of Meireles unpredictable installations, rather than using the occasion to celebrate the conversions, this one combines the symbolic and the aesthetic, the philosophical and the political, and spirituality and power to address the catastrophic outcome for the Indians, who by 1770 had all been exterminated. With the disappearance of the populations for which the missions were constructed, the latter likewise folded shortly thereafter. This work characteristic of Meireles continuous analysis of the relationship between power and those social experiments devised by vast bureaucracies such as the Catholic Church subtly critiques the work of these missions. He has described the devastation produced in their wake as the principal motivation behind the conception of the piece: I wanted to construct something that would be a kind of mathematical equation, very simple and direct, connecting three elements: material power, spiritual power and a kind of unavoidable, historically repeated consequence of this conjunction, which was tragedy.7

With this outline in mind, Meireles commenced to articulate how this conjunction could be elaborated on physical, material, conceptual and psychic levels without resorting to documentary realism. Mission/Missions (How to Build Cathedrals) is an enigmatic work that comprises several elements. First, a square depression measuring two metres on each side, framed by paving stones, is filled with six hundred thousand sparkling coins (their currency varies according to where the work is exhibited), an effect that transforms the floor into a reflecting pool of tinkling metal. Suspended more than two metres above this incongruous material is a canopy made of two thousand cattle bones. Linking these two elements is a slim, fragile column constructed from eight hundred communion wafers, which rises from the centre of the pool of coins to the apse of the bone canopy a union of forces that suggests the connection between heaven and earth. Further enhancing the theatricality of this setting is a ring of black netting that

surrounds it, through which one views the installation as if peering into an ancient sanctuary. Though Meireles has employed very basic materials for Mission/Missions (How to Build Cathedrals), its powerful effects between solemnity and extravagance were carefully calibrated through contrasts between the elements: hard and soft, shadow and light, spirituality and materiality. Meireles has installed subdued lighting above the structure of bones, whose multiple openings allow shafts of light and elongated shadows to pierce through, falling on the pool of glittering coins and illuminating the wavering wafer column. The drama between the pool, canopy and cord of wafers simply inverts the logic of the cathedral; the work lays bare the material greed that accompanied the search for the bounty of the mythical El Dorado, the consequent slaughter and enslavement that attended the plunder of the Americas, and finally the bankrupt spirituality that gave cover for genocidal buccaneers. 25

1987 Philip Taaffe Intersecting Balustrades Enamel ink, silkscreen, acrylic and collage on canvas 330 x 142 cm

Bob Nickas
Is it true of contemporary art that most movements are best understood in what might be termed post-time, offering a clearer vantage than hindsight alone can provide? Post-time signifies more than what comes after; it can be thought of as a filter through which one looks back and simultaneously ahead. The appropriation art of the 1980s was epitomized by practitioners who ultimately had little in common: Mike Bidlo, Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince and Philip Taaffe. We know that Levine and Princes work most pointedly took the form of photographs of photographs, a pure gesture that almost eliminated the hand; Bidlos most compelling work was purely gestural: painting-as-performance in his reanimation of Pollocks drip technique. Taaffe, however, stood apart as a painter, someone for whom an investigation of the act of painting was equally forensic and romantic, his subject held intimately as well as observed from afar. This was his means of inserting himself into a history of painting and of articulating his thoughts in his own emotional register. He and Levine would both go on to transform historical works to meet their needs, and in so doing would define a post-appropriative strategy in close proximity to appropriations original incarnation. While Levines subjects were almost exclusively male and from the distant past (Malevich, Mir, Rodchenko), Taaffes were more recent and thus more sensitive to being reconfigured. Bridget Riley was prominent among them, beginning in 1983 with Overtone; Taaffe could sense in the once-maligned Op Art the potential for a visuality that was hypnotic and seductive, a vibrational line meant to cast a spell. In his deployment of Rileys wave, as well as in his braiding of Barnett Newmans zip, he would embark on a subtle eroticizing and homo-eroticizing of forms and elements in their work. In We Are Not Afraid (1985), Taaffes response to Newmans Whos Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue II (1967), his loosely coiled zips resemble strands of DNA: the thicker braid a length of rope, the gracefully undulating band a stream of urine. The sheer audacity of taking 26

1967 Barnett Newman Whos Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue II Acrylic on canvas 305 x 259 cm

1985 Philip Taaffe We Are Not Afraid Linoprint collage and acrylic on canvas 300 x 255 cm

Newmans Vir Heroicus Sublimis (195051) as a jumping-off point, in a work Taaffe titled Homo Fortissimus Excelsus (1985), combined with the unzipping and serpentine coiling of the vertical zips, stands for the commission of his original sin. 1985 also saw a number of works that heightened the sexual potential of abstract and optical forms (Big Iris, Elypsis Dentata and Brest), and with these works he would enter rather than be banished from the garden; painting for him would come to be grasped as a corpus in which memory and desire could intertwine. By 1987 Taaffe had worked through numerous artistic figures, reintroduced craft and ornamental elements into painting via his linocuts and collage techniques, and embraced emotion without having to resort to selfconsciously expressive means. With that years Intersecting Balustrades, a large X-shaped canvas, he asserted the visual language with which we identify him today, and simultaneously reinvigorated abstractions potential. The painting cannot be directly linked to any other artist, living or dead. Its source, according to Taaffe, is a wrought-iron balustrade section in the Jersey City

Public Library,8 a building in the Italian Renaissance style completed in 1901 that was near to one of the artists earliest studios. The prominent decorative motif that carries over from his appropriated work is a continuous S-wave that contains optical spirals apertures alternately expanding or contracting and which first appeared in Quad Cinema (1986). The colouration and internal structure of Intersecting Balustrades has the feeling of stained glass, evoking an architectural fragment dislocated in time and place, or an X chromosome illuminated under an antique microscope. Taaffe has said, Its a very locational painting, physically locating, and its also dealing with a theatre of the absurd in some respect. Theres a lot of memory in that painting, and I think that perhaps distinguishes it. Even though it may read as somewhat static in terms of its overall architectural structure, the many elements are very active, and maybe these little pinwheels, spirals, going in different directions, signify moving forward and looking back at the same time. I think its the first work where I really found a voice that was truly my own.9 27

1987 Rosemarie Trockel Untitled (Made in Western Germany) Wool 250 x 180 cm

Hans Ulrich Obrist


Rosemarie Trockel first introduced wool and knitting into her work in the 1980s, at a time when this material and technique had yet to be reclaimed for art as opposed to craft practice. As she revealed to the critic Isabelle Graw, in the 1970s there were a lot of questionable womens exhibitions, mostly on the theme of house and home. I tried to take wool, which was viewed as a womans material, out of this context and to rework it in a neutral process of production.10 Trockels woollen artworks have since been recognized as among her landmark pieces (that simple experiment grew into my trademark, which I really didnt want11) and have ranged from two-dimensional wall hangings surrogate paintings to items of clothing, including the artists many balaclavas, gloves and dresses. Though Trockel has become one of the most celebrated living artists, her practice retains a necessary sense of unpredictability, eluding fixed artistic identities. She makes use of diverse media (from artists books and multiples, to sculpture, painting, ceramics, textiles, drawing, printmaking and video), draws on popular and folk culture as well as the history of the fine arts, and rethinks traditional exhibition formats in order to address sites of presentation as media in their own right, all the while being deeply informed by an open-ended feminist standpoint. Rather than seeking a position in the centre of the art world, she instead orbits it by pursuing less obvious pathways and opportunities. She is at once in the middle of things and at the centre of nothing. Often produced on a very large scale, Trockels knitted pictures are industrially manufactured according to detailed instructions provided by the artist. She has also produced photographic silkscreen works on Plexiglas showing close-up images of woollen stitching in predominantly grey-brown and orange tones. Along with drawings and paintings that imitate the undulating weaves of knitted wool, these works make plain the imperfections and irregularities to be found even in machine-made objects of consumption. Within the repetition there is thus a continual production of difference, a proliferation of what Gilles Deleuze

1990 Rosemarie Trockel WhatIf CouldBe Wool 150 x 155 cm

calls repetition as difference. Trockels knitted works remind us further of Kierkegaards identification of the will to repeat as a courageous gesture, since he who does not grasp that life is a repetition and that this is the beauty of life has pronounced his own verdict and deserves nothing better than what will happen to him anyway he will perish.12 Many of the artists two-dimensional knitted works have, since the late 1980s, also included images and text woven into the surface. WhatIf CouldBe (1989) has two speech bubbles originating from either side of the frame. The question and the response are equally enigmatic: What if, Could be. With the phrase Cogito Ergo Sum woven onto the surface of an untitled 1988 work, Trockel drew out the implicitly masculine underpinnings of Descartes famous axiom, while the two speech bubbles in Bitte tu mit nichts aber schnell (Please dont do anything to me but do it quickly, 1989) suggest a latent violence. Trockel has stated that since the introduction of these materials and processes in her work, and especially in the early stages, she has been concerned with signifiers of the feminine, culturally inferior materials and skills such as wool and knitting and whether it is possible to overcome the negative clich by eliminating the handicraft aspect from the whole complex.13 Accordingly, her knitted

works are redolent with signs of the handmade but replace these with industrial process. If something is lost, something else is gained. Untitled (Made in Western Germany) (1987) speaks quietly and eloquently about both connection and disconnection, the material trace and immaterial memory the one as repository for the other. Of all Trockels knitted works, it delivers its conundrum with the utmost economy. In fact, economy in particular, the question of labour is of the essence here. From a distance, the work registers as an abstract, almost a monochrome painting, a surface that hides the traces of its production by refusing internal differentiation of any sort. On closer inspection, the words MADE IN WESTERN GERMANY are to be found repeated in a pattern across the surface. Repetition of this message, which already expresses the circumstances of its production, further emphasizes the monotonous labour process involved in its making. The wool signifies artisanship, while prominent use of a phrase commonly found on factory-produced garments signifies mass industry. Untitled (Made in Western Germany) speaks of the might of the West German capitalist behemoth but does so while bringing a traditional sign of femininity to bear on the masculine, fabricating a sly critique of a country that was itself soon to be unmade. 29

1987-90 Cindy Sherman Untitled Colour photograph 229 x 152 cm

Daniel Birnbaum
I think of becoming a different person, says Cindy Sherman. I look into a mirror next to the camera, [and] its trancelike. By staring into it I try to become that character through the lens. It seems to work out, it sounds like meditation. But something happens that makes it more fun for me because I have no control over it. Something else takes over.14 If the mirror is the fundamental metaphor for the mind as a selfreflective being, then Shermans work is perhaps the most concentrated depiction of identity-construction in contemporary art. Her choreographed photographic selfportraits, in which she dresses up and acts out female stereotypes, have been at the vanguard of feminist practice since the early 1980s and continue to exercise a powerful influence over the discourse today. Even when she is not in front of the lens herself, her subject matter addresses underlying issues of the construction of femininity along with artificial ideals of perfection. Untitled (1987-90) forms part of a small but potent series in which the artist presents a near-abstract amalgamation of colours and shapes. From a distance, the subject matter appears aesthetically pleasing, its colours luscious and shiny. Upon closer inspection, however, these brightly coloured shapes resolve themselves into piles of decaying food, vomit, slime, blood and other bodily secretions. The shock derived from this repulsive metamorphosis can be overwhelming, conjuring associations of violence and aggression. Whereas many of Shermans masquerades depict women who have constructed their looks according to socially fabricated ideals of femininity, this work shows the unembellished reality behind the facade. A direct reference to anorexia and bulimia, psychological disorders associated with a desperate desire to conform to the fashion industrys narrow understanding of perfection, the image presents the viewable disorder of the body without showing the body itself. The initial seductiveness of the work provides a reference both to the cosmetics industry and to a chauvinistic idea of feminine mystique. Shermans art has frequently been 30

1978 Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Still Black and white photograph 20.5 x 25.5 cm

discussed in terms of the abject, a term describing psychologically disquieting representations that transgress our sense of cleanliness and propriety, particularly around the human body. The concept of abjection is commonly used by feminists to draw attention to aspects of female physiognomy that have been deemed undesirable or taboo by a patriarchal society menstrual blood, for example. In many of her works, Sherman has gone to great lengths in making her female subjects look repulsive and ugly, sometimes by using prosthetics and modified mannequins to challenge expectations of female desirability or by applying theatrical make-up to disfigure to her own body and face. Though Untitled (1987-90) doesnt feature a figure, its almost possible to see it as a portrait in its own right: the inner face of the medias obsession with size-zero models. By trying to reach the essence of the codes that surround the visual language of the female image, Shermans anxiety-provoking display of bodily secretions shows the darker side of glamour. If her art itself is a mirror, its a broken one. Yet it still reflects. 31

1987-93 Huang Yong Ping The History of Chinese Painting and the History of Modern Western Art Washed in the Washing Machine for Two Minutes Chinese tea box, paper pulp, glass 77 x 48 x 70 cm

Okwui Enwezor
The discipline of art history as practised across academic spaces remains generally focused on Western art, conceiving it as a thread of time that flows unbroken from ancient Greek and Roman art through the medieval and Renaissance periods and on to the modern and contemporary era. Aesthetic propositions that have been engendered across diverse global artistic realms find themselves subordinated to the methodologies of the Western art-historical view. Rare are programmes that eschew such linearity. Recently, however, in small pockets of academic art history, a reevaluation has slowly been taking place, thus placing in sharp relief the problem of Western art historys disciplinary ambivalence towards the broader study of art. In 1987 Huang Yong Ping staged one of the most significant artistic reflections on the possibility of another, nonuniversalizing conception of the history of art in a sculpture predicated on the idea of art history as a network rather than a movement from a single originating point. In The History of Chinese Painting and the History of Modern Western Art Washed in the Washing Machine for Two Minutes (first shown in 1987 and remade in 1993 after the original was accidentally destroyed), Huang put two important art historical texts A History of Chinese Painting (1982) by Wang Bomin and Herbert Reads A Concise History of Modern Painting (1959), one of the first books of Western art history published in China through a two-minute cycle in a washing machine. It is not insignificant that the machines activity starts from its centre and, as it spins, moves its contents to the sides nay, periphery of the machine. In so doing, it at once brings together and disperses; what emerged in Huangs action sculpture after the two books were washed was a mound of soggy, pulped paper whose symbolic effect was the hybridization rather than universalization of art history. Scooping the books centrifuged remnants from the washers drum, he was able to collapse one into the other and display them on top of a Chinese tea crate like a piece of defecated matter.

However, it is important to reflect equally on the context of this work: the cultural and artistic milieu of late-1980s Beijing, when Deng Xiaopings twotrack development policy of Chinese communism and capitalism with Chinese characteristics elucidated a new global pragmatism a move that, once China emerged as a global juggernaut, positioned its artistic and cultural economies within the global order. It is also telling that The History of Chinese Painting and the History of Modern Western Art Washed in the Washing Machine for Two Minutes was conceived a full decade prior to the British transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997, which further accelerated and cemented Chinas rising political and cultural power. While Dengs development programme and the Hong Kong transfer seemingly have nothing to do with Huangs pointed historical critique, they do point to the fact that art and its histories are equally enmeshed in ideology and in projections of power. The technology of the washing machine also illustrates the nascent shift of Chinese industrial production from being a massive agrarian economy to becoming the factory of the world.

This work, then, seems not only an artefact of the era when Chinese art arrived on the international stage but also represents one of the most profound artistic reflections on the coming global turn in contemporary art one in which Chinese artists of Huangs generation would come to play a significant role. On the one hand, the sculpture functions on an emphatically optical level, given the impossibility of reading or distinguishing the hierarchy of artistic histories contained in the entangled books. But it also exhibits the epistemological blind spots of art history as practised in the cultural scene of Western Europe to which Huang would subsequently migrate two years later a few months before, first, the Tiananmen Square crackdown that sent many contemporary Chinese artists into exile and, second, the fall of the Berlin Wall at the end of that year. The History of Chinese Painting and the History of Modern Western Art Washed in the Washing Machine for Two Minutes therefore represents an astute interpretation of the conditions of historical consciousness and critical artistic production that reflect the changing stakes of contemporary art. 33

1987-2001 Peter Fischli and David Weiss Visible World 3,000 colour photographs (transparencies) on 15 light-box tables Overall 2,805 x 69 x 83 cm

Hans Ulrich Obrist


Over more than thirty years of collaboration, the career of Peter Fischli and David Weiss has been marked by a persistent concern with making the overlooked visible. One of the ways the duo has achieved this in their work is through a rigorous, sometimes playful process of selection and connection between both found and constructed elements. Their 1987 film The Way Things Go [p. 20] would seem to be determined by chemical and physical sequences, creating an illusion in which a chain of actions has mysteriously achieved independence beyond human control. The items used in the work are, of course, related by the act of selection and by their incorporation into an open system that has been generated by the artists, but that resulting system is free of any hierarchy or classification. Ideas of antithetical opposed pairs large/ small, important/unimportant, even order/disorder begin to totter. By contrast, in their Visible World project the act of classification is revalued, becoming a means of fostering links. Visible World picks up on the fondness of the artists for the quotidian and the quizzical but stands as perhaps the signal work in what would turn out, during the 1990s and beyond, to be a pervasive archival impulse at work in numerous artists practices.15 Here, elements of our collective visual world are drawn together by way of the artists observation of correspondences and contrasts in the details of everyday life and consumer culture. The work comprises three thousand small-format photographs arranged and uniformly displayed on six specially constructed light tables that together stretch twenty-eight metres. (They have also been shown as a video slideshow and published as a book.) This immense collection is drawn from the four corners of the world, taking in an array of the manifold natural and built environments the places and nonplaces within which contemporary existence is played out, ranging from jungles, gardens, deserts, mountains and beaches to cities, offices, apartments, airports, famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge, and everything in between. 34

Everyone who comes to the work will find in it his or her world a Buddhist will find Buddhism; a farmer, agriculture; a frequent flyer, aeroplanes. But Visible World can never be seen in its entirety; it denies the total view. I have personally seen the work many times, and when I last saw it, at the 2010 Gwangju Biennial, many things were revealed to me that had not shown themselves before. All of these images were taken by the artists over the period of the works gestation and collation, creating a time capsule of the late twentieth century. In fact, just as the subjects of the images establish a playful dialogue between the seemingly timeless and the transient, the astounding and the innocuous, so too is there a typically witty exchange between the apparently lowly form and origins of the photographs themselves and the almost scientific exactitude of their arrangement and display on the light table, where the whimsical and the bathetic are offered up for earnest scrutiny. Not least, there is a clear parallel here with the interplay of the meticulous arrangement and choreography of discarded, banal and overlooked objects in The Way Things Go. Fischli and Weisss odyssey lays bare

the cumulative, visible results of the twin central processes of modernity: progress and entropy, production and destruction. As with other works by the duo for instance, the 1993 photo series Settlements, Agglomeration Visible World examines the links between everyday life and the built environment. It pits the mundane against the iconic, and proposes as Fischli told me while discussing the artists reduced-scale office block, Building (1987) that mediocrity defines our urbanized landscape much more than the few so-called great achievements of contemporary architecture.16 Visible World is a map of life as we know it, but it is ever alert to its provisionality, asking questions about what, how and under which conditions we can come to recognize, to understand and to interpret. Through its very absurdity, the work manifests above all an exemplary kind of modesty that is entirely appropriate to the early twenty-first century, making plain that, to borrow Doris Lessings words, our entire culture is extremely fragile17 that the more dependent it becomes on increasingly complex devices, the more susceptible it is to a sudden and terminal collapse. The equilibrium is most beautiful just before it collapses but thats just the way things go. 35