Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, ss. This item is covered by one or more copyrights. Please do not copy, re-use or reproduce this item without the permission of the copyright holder. Isabel Ching complicates art historical narratives on conceptualism as a historiographic category. Reiko Tomii situates s Japanese art in the broader history of modern and contemporary art.

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Farver and Weiss whose talk can be accessed here were invited to reflect on the exhibition—its challenges, failures and successes—fifteen years after it was seen at the Queens Museum in New York. Encouraging associations across periods, geographies, and mediums, this section draws together diverse contents from post. View all Themes.

As project leaders for the exhibition, Luis Camnitzer, Rachel Weiss, and I worked with a team of 12 international curators representing 11 geographic areas. Global Conceptualism happened 14 years ago, but it continues to elicit strong opinions. However, I hope we are not here to retry this exhibition, but to think about how curators and museums might go about creating exhibitions on a so-called global scale today. For this reason, perhaps some background information about the show might be helpful.

As I remember it, the project began sometime in , when Rachel Weiss and Luis Camnitzer invited me to lunch to ask about the possibility of the Queens Museum organizing an exhibition of Latin American conceptualist art. As discussions ensued, it became clear that each of us knew of conceptualist practices that had emerged and flourished in other parts of the world and that were generally unknown or unacknowledged by the New York art world.

These movements of course were connected by a complex system of global linkages, but the important fact was that they clearly had been spurred by urgent local conditions and histories.

Although an exhibition of Latin American conceptualism was badly needed in New York, we decided instead to organize a broader show that would include conceptualist art from around the world, including North America and Europe.

Each of us had our own reasons for wanting to do such an exhibition. I had been frustrated by the repeated presumptions by New York art critics and curators that conceptually based, or experimental, if you will, works by international contemporary artists were simply derivative of Western art.

There seemed to be a lack of interest or a disregard for the fact that these artists could well have inherited and were responding to their own important local histories. While New York in the s had seen an influx of contemporary artists from around the world, many of whom were engaged with conceptualist practices, exhibitions of modernism or earlier conceptualism from other parts of the world were still uncommon. However, New York had yet to see a museum survey exhibition of conceptualist art from Latin America, Eastern Europe, and many other parts of the world.

Information about such work was difficult to obtain, particularly in English, and this void made it easy for New York critics and curators to assume that little that was innovative in conceptualist art was being produced outside of the so-called center. The show included works by more than artists from 15 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, and Yugoslavia.

I hoped to expand the dialogue around conceptualism, including North American and Western European conceptualism, and to build on what had been presented elsewhere in several earlier exhibitions. When we began to work on Global Conceptualism , the movement already possessed an almost year history. However, neither of these shows included many works by non-Western artists. I will return to this exhibition later. Rachel, Luis, and I well understood that organizing an exhibition about how conceptualism had developed world-wide would be fraught with problems, not the least of which were the prevailing views.

The thought of how to begin to organize all of the material we potentially wanted to include was a daunting one. One strong influence that soon emerged was the work of historian Eric Hobsbawm.

As we began to think about doing such a show, another reason became increasingly compelling for me. The Queens Museum and other New York City borough museums were created in the early s, when activists advocated for the creation of cultural institutions outside Manhattan.

This happened while staggering changes were taking place in many parts of the world. The rise of urbanization, the abandonment of an agricultural way of life, and the proliferation of repressive governments, and radical changes in US immigration laws, attracted millions, to the US and to the Borough of Queens.

The histories that were outlined in Global Conceptualism were not abstract to our Queens constituents; they were their histories, and it seemed important to present at least a portion of these histories through art, to the best of our ability. Because we did not want one grand narrative for the show, we wanted to invite a team of international curators to work with us.

Since information about artistic production in many parts of the world was hard to access—the Internet and JStor were in their infancies, and Google would not even be incorporated for another three years—we relied on exhibitions we had seen, what we had read, and recommendations from colleagues to put together our team.

The geographical demarcations now may seem haphazard, but at the time we were interested in putting forth information about the conceptualist activities of which we were aware, and in inviting curators we knew were working with this subject.

The curatorial team would choose works by more than artists to trace three decades of the history of conceptualist art through two relatively distinct waves of activity. Most of our invited curators were obvious choices because of their previous work on the subject. Finding a curator for the Eastern European section proved to be the most difficult. Probably the most controversial invitation was the one extended to the organizer of the North American section.

It was offered to Peter Wollen because of a mutual interest in exploring North American Conceptual art in relation to Situationism and activism. I will always be grateful to this remarkable group of curators, and I continue to be amazed by how prescient their work was for the time. The budget for the project was, as we had imagined, very modest, but the Andy Warhol Foundation gave its first-ever planning grant to the Queens Museum to get the project started, and the Rockefeller Foundation provided funds for a meeting of the curators, which took place midway through the project at the Bard Center.

It is unfortunate that there were no funds for multiple meetings, or that something like Skype did not exist then, as additional contact would have helped to tease out links and networks among artists in various areas. As it was, the meeting at Bard was fairly successful. It has often been my experience that when curators are exposed to new artists and works, they begin to incorporate them into their own practices, and so we went into the meetings with eleven wildly different shows, and emerged with eleven mildly different shows, but we never really expected all of this to gel into one harmonious vision.

The project was plagued by a customs strike that delayed the arrival of works from Latin America until the very day of the opening. Our book editor left us mid-project.

Exhibition designer Michael Langley generously helped us determine where to build walls, but we did not have the budget for a full exhibition design, so each curator decided on the placement of works within the spaces they were allotted. I was taken aback recently when I was contacted by a young art historian intending to write a thesis on the exhibition's layout and design.

The show opened to mixed reviews, mostly negative if they were by US critics and better if the critics resided elsewhere. I wish he had simply asked about the budget; I probably would have told him, as there was nothing to hide.

Many critics longed for a thematic rather than geographical and chronological organization of the show. Art in America critic Marcia Vetroq thought that concentrating on grouping similar themes and strategies would have animated the show, and she also called the North American section "intellectually dishonest. A number of critics quibbled with the geographic delineations, which would not have been so apparent in a thematic hanging.

And there were many instances in the exhibition where works could have been grouped thematically. These could have been seen as works dealing with money, currency, and value, or artists' insertions into existing methods of distribution, in which case they could have been joined by works by Eduardo Costa, Antonio Manuel, and Yoko Ono and John Lennon.

However, it would have been doubly important to provide context for these works, since, for instance, artists working under so many different systems, both socialist and capitalist, may have created works with formal resemblances but with unrelated sources of inspiration, or which considered the public and the private in vastly dissimilar ways. Dematerialization can be inspired by many disparate sources: Buddhism influenced the works of Matsuzawa Yutaka Independent '64 Exhibition in the Wilderness , and Song Dong Water Diary , , evaporated calligraphy made with brush and water , while North American Conceptual art drew upon the ideas of Duchamp and various Western philosophers.

Originally, I had wanted to organize the show thematically and had asked each curator to choose 10 representative objects, hoping for a show that was manageable in size and budget. However, the curators rebelled, feeling it was important to try to present short histories of each region, however imperfectly.

Some felt that taking a thematic approach and comparing a few lesser-known, so-called peripheral artists and works with much better-known examples would again privilege the mainstream and fail to provide necessary context. In the end I agreed, and we organized the show geographically and chronologically. Many critics complained about the disparate texts and labels in each section, which was a consequence of the many voices participating in this conversation.

Writing them in one soothing museum voice would probably have made it much easier for the viewer but may have taken away the voice of the individual curators. In hindsight, I think it would have been better to have more comprehensive and uniform labels.

This is one of my regrets about the show. A problem that was pointed out by a number of critics is one that is inherent in presenting historical Conceptual art. Unavoidably, one makes sacred icons out of art and ephemera that were made for the street. Joan Kee regretted our inability to reproduce the freshness of the immediate gesture through photography, and others thought the show seemed gray, but many of these works had been made under difficult circumstances by artists who had very limited means.

We were working with what our curators could find. Katherine Hixson, writing in the New Art Examiner , took the show to task for not making more apparent the fact that conceptualism was, in her opinion, but another futile avant-garde utopian effort. The front cover featured Japanese artist Hikosaka Naoyoshi's Floor Event of , an optimistic invitation to the Revolution, while depicted on the back was an image from Wei Guangqing's Suicide Series , which was shown in the China Avant-Garde exhibition in Beijing in February , an event that many now see as anticipating the tragic events that occurred in Tiananmen Square in June of that year.

In spite of the scathing reviews the show received when it was on view, it soon began to appear on "best show" lists, beginning with the best shows of and moving on to the best of the previous five and even 10 years.

Frankly, I am pleased but puzzled by the attention the show itself continues to receive. My fear is that attention that should be focused on the many remarkable artists and works in the exhibition is being directed to the show itself.

However, it is exciting to see that this research has begun to happen at MoMA and beyond. We were asked to address how we would go about creating a show like Global Conceptualism today. If we can assume that there already will have been historical surveys—even abbreviated ones like those in Global Conceptualism —then I would imagine a thematic rather than a geographic hanging.

I would still opt out of a grand overall narrative and choose to work with a team to attempt to explicate differences. It would be important to pay keen attention to the artists' biographies, to where they lived or studied and who they knew, and trace links and networks in a way that we were not able to do in Global Conceptualism.

I regret that I did not actually see this exhibition, because it, like the others mentioned earlier, did not come to New York, and I had no real travel budget at the Queens Museum. Out of Actions was organized primarily in chronological order, placing artists associated with different movements and countries in proximity to one another and thus allowing connections to be drawn among works that in many cases have not previously been viewed as related.

I think this might work, although, as I mentioned above, care must be taken not to iron out the differences too smoothly. Educational programs and information would also be of great importance. It is unfortunate that we did not have the means to conduct video interviews with the artists in Global Conceptualism or to do extensive public programs beyond a symposium that we held in conjunction with the New School.

Although I am of nearly the same generation as Lucy, I was not there either, but these words seem an apt description of the discourse around this exhibition. In the end, I think it was accomplished by sheer good will on the part of hundreds of artists and a team of 15 curators, project directors, catalogue essayists, and one adventurous museum director, all of whom were not only willing but eager to take part in this important conversation.

Marcia E. Hixson, Kathryn, "All Together Now! Sign in or create your account to participate in the discussion. Log in to. Sign in Not a member? Sign up now! Click here to visit the current discussion about this essay. By Joaquin Barriendos , Zanna Gilbert. By Zanna Gilbert , Magdalena Moskalewicz. Discuss 4. By Magdalena Moskalewicz , Christian Rattemeyer. By Pedro Gadanho , Zanna Gilbert. By Magdalena Moskalewicz , Daniel Muzyczuk.

By Zanna Gilbert , Mauricio Marcin.


Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s-1980s

The breadth of material was intended to be seen in critical relation to the more conve-ntional account of Conceptual art as a North American and Western European export of the 60s. This is perhaps too fine a distinction, which tends to separate good political from bad formal Conceptual artists. The desire to valourise conceptualism as woven into moments of political and social upheaval yields plausible results, especially in Latin American contexts: Brazilian artist Cildo Mereiles stamped questions about political assassination onto money in circulation in her piece Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Banknote Project Who Killed Herzog? Let alone, say, the work of Joseph Kosuth.


Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s–1980s

Global Conceptualism : Points of Origin, ss. This exhibition catalogue, featuring work by over artists, covers three decades of conceptual art and examines it from a global perspective, focusing on the important local differences that gave rise to distinct conceptual art practices in various regions around the world. The book, like the exhibition, is sectioned by region, and the curator responsible for each region provides an essay which situates the work. Chronology by region 17 p. Biographical notes. Index 3 p. Circa bibl.


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These two compilations, one a show catalog, the other an anthology of artists' writings, review one of the most contested movements in 20th-century art. While the editors may quibble over certain key He lives in Great Neck, New York. Farver, a noted specialist on contemporary Asian art, has served as Queens Museum of Art Director of Exhibitions since Global conceptualism : points of origin, ss. This book documents the most important exhibition of conceptual art ever undertaken, and surveys with decidedly international scope the development of idea-based art in the works of over artists, from Australia, Asia, Latin America, Africa, Western and Eastern Europe, and North America.


Table of Contents for: Global conceptualism : points of origin,

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