Review: Oliver Laric's Kopienkritik at Skulpturhalle Basel

Kopienkritik, German artist Oliver Laric's summer solo project at the Skulpturhalle Basel, waxes upon the politics of the reproduction of images while drawing upon the Swiss museum's collection of plaster cast copies of sculptures from classical antiquity. Laric collaborated with the museum's staff to reinstall and arrange their collection of casts, interspersing his own sculptures and video works shown on monitors and projectors throughout the museum. That Kopienkritik largely comprises works of art not created by but rearranged by Laric calls into question the functionality of the artist as not a maker of things, but a producer of ideas.

Kopienkritik (“copy criticism”) is the process of analyzing copies of classic sculptures —typically Roman reproductions of lost Greek versions — to arrive at a greater understanding of the originals. Within the art history community, the practice is seen as a last-ditch way to study ancient Greek sculpture — and one bearing many discontents. For example, ancient Greek sculptor Polykleitos, active in the 5th and early 4th century BCE, made major contributions to sculptural practice with his “invention” of contrapposto, but as his works are all lost they may only be studied and understood through lesser-quality Roman copies. To illustrate this principle, Laric grouped sculptures together similar in appearance and posture, creating visible aesthetic lineages between each work. These groupings are put into a theoretical framework by Laric's essay-video Versions, projected onto two similar plaster casts in the Skulpturhalle installation, the video attempting to fast forward discussions surrounding the authenticity and proliferation of images to an internet-sensitive context...

Internationalism and Nationality; Antiquity and Contemporaneity at the 54th Venice Biennale

Details of Thomas Hirschhorn installation at the Swiss Pavilion, Giardini
Details of Thomas Hirschhorn installation at the Swiss Pavilion, Giardini
What always seems urgent and perhaps ineffable to curators is how notions of nationality come to pass in a biennial setting. Look at the last Daniel Birnbaum-curated Venice Biennale for evidence, his “Making Worlds,” or the last documenta in 2007 curated by German couple Roger Buergel and Ruth Noack, which, similar to Okwui Enwezor’s preceding documenta, displaced the exhibition in lesser-known, sometimes third-world locales. We now find French curator Bice Curiger’s comparatively breezy ILLUMInations inhabiting Venice, looking to the aesthetic experience as one of transcendental enlightenment while also meditating, somewhat confoundingly, on how an artist’s nationality effects the production of their work.

Although there exist many a pleasant moment in Curiger’s biennale, the curator stumbles over contextualizing it, and often relies upon generic ideas to band together ideas with no real curatorial thesis. Curiger writes, “The term ‘nations’ in ILLUMInations applies metaphorically to recent developments in the arts all over the world, where overlapping groups form collectives of people representing a wide variety of smaller, more local activities and mentalities.” I take this wily statement to mean that recently, artists of varying locales band together to represent their nationhood in larger groups—a sentiment not exactly illuminating.

In a further attempt to explain what needn’t be explained, Curiger writes, “ILLUMInations emphasizes the intuitive insight and the illumination of thought that is fostered by an encounter with art and its ability to sharpen the tools of perception.” Here I was under the impression that it was part and parcel of successful art works to “enlighten” its viewer through an aesthetic experience, how that is emphasized, I’m not sure. My guess is that this throwaway concept is one Curiger found to unify an essentially un-unifiable group of works. Perhaps the sole phenomenon unifying all works is Curiger’s propensity to pick out the most hot artists of a given moment: R.H. Quaytmann and Seth Price in New York; in London, Klara Liden, who just had a solo show at the Serpentine, Elad Lassry in Los Angeles, Sharyar Nashat in Berlin, among others. Although Curiger falters in her apparent subscription to cool internationalism, much of the work comprising the Biennale—particularly in the exhibition’s Central Pavilion in the Giardini—is worth consideration.

Report from BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer) Venezia

video by Rafaël Rozendaal

The 33rd edition of BYOB took place Friday evening on the small Venetian island, San Servolo. For those unfamiliar, the exhibition format brings together internet- savvy artists showcasing their work on their own projectors (“beamers.”) BYOB first launched last year in Berlin by Dutch artists Rafaël Rozendaal and Anne de Vries to combat the reliance upon institutions for the facilitation of new media exhibitions. With BYOBs around the globe, it has quickly gained notoriety as a meet-up point for socializing among new media artists as much as a viable form of exhibition. While Rozendaal now carries the torch for BYOB and has ushered it into a worldwide phenomenon, the question remains: is BYOB a viable form of resistance to institutional reliance or just a big party?

Keller/Kosmas (Aids-3D) at T293, Naples, Italy

The infamous, brackishly titled Berlin-based duo Keller/Kosmas (Aids-3D) have exhibited widely from an extremely young age. Dropping out of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and moving to Berlin at age 20, Keller and Kosmas became known in the late naughts for their dirt-style website documenting static works with a fantastical, conspiracy theorist sci-fi sensibility, in addition to weed-infused performances of laser shows and naked babes. As an artistic entity, Keller and Kosmas essentially grew up online, and for better or worse, in the public eye. Now barely 25, Daniel Keller and Nik Kosmas enjoy exhibition opportunities throughout Europe and the United States, albeit with a more concerted sense of art historical sensitivity, production know-how, and overarching artistic maturity.

The Migration and Conflation of Forms

What has happened to “underground” film after the advent of Netflix, file-sharing and the Internet? This veritable, thriving counter-cultural force, building community by way of the distribution of cultural artifacts, has definitely undergone some changes as hard-to-find movies have become easier to locate and view. The transformation of underground film in the face of these factors emblematizes the shift in perspective defining the New York Underground Film Festival (1994-2008), from its offshoot Migrating Forms, programmed by NYUFF veterans Kevin McGarry and Nellie Killian, now in its second year. Migrating Forms shouldn’t be understood as NYUFF with a facelift—such would imply a new identity covering up an old ethos. Rather, if NYUFF combated the poor distribution of alternative cinema with a punk sensibility, Migrating Forms broadened its scope to celebrate works made in the preceding year by artists and filmmakers, somewhat in the vein of an (annual) art world biennial.

Its title, taken from a James Fotopolous film, further evinces the slippery character of pictures shown within McGarry and Killian’s program. Anything on video or film is fair game. The disparate line up includes work of contemporary video artists, anthropologically inclined documentaries, and formalist ruminations by an array of artists and filmmakers. Also shown was a mini retrospective of Godard collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin and the only two, extremely rare films ever produced by Ed Ruscha. The festival brochure touts its ten day massive program, “Across 23 programs, Migrating Forms showcases films and videos by 62 artists living and working in 21 countries—plus 9 special retrospective screenings and special events.”

The conceptual and physical vastness of Migrating Forms’ programming makes it difficult to identify any concerted or intentional leitmotifs. McGarry and Killian composed the festival with no obvious overarching theme other than the charge of presenting new film ...


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Rhizome Today

Hi Zach -- I'm really enjoying these daily link round-ups, keep 'em coming! I have a question about yesterday's RhizomeToday. Could you please explain what you mean by "If you're not engaged, you're not paying attention" in regard to this --> ? Curious to hear whether you consider this a critical practice or otherwise an "engaging" Instagram feed, or both, etc?


Report from Frieze New York

Yeah, I thought it was a unique work for Thompson! Glad you liked it, too.


JODI: Street Digital

FYI this is the wall text materials line for GEO GOO which states that it is documentation: "GEO GOO, 2008
Video documentation of Web-based work using Google Maps,
Web browser, custom server-based software"

And regarding, "experience, calling attention to the fact": I actually directly quoted the press release, so this isn't my grammar to fix! ;)


London Calling

A couple general thoughts, while I'm not going to respond to anyone
individually, any and everyone is welcome to respond to be personally
via email (karchey at artic dot edu): This article was conceived to
be experimental in tone, and meant to read as semi-narrative and
highly subjective, not to mention lighthearted and somewhat
anti-professional. If that's "grating," so be it. This
subjectivity renders the piece as a story about a trip: its
structure; the people I met and how I met them; what phenomena,
artists, and exhibitions I found to be remarkable; etc. Importantly,
this is not an objective profile about "what is significant in
London." As I mentioned in the article I don't think it's a
generative practice to speak with such authoritative measure in this
instance, especially if refusing the adoption of this authoritative
voice admits the impossibility of encapsulating a scene
journalistically. Thank you, though, to everyone who got up in arms
about the article "missing something," (especially those of
you who knew I was in London and writing something about London…?)
because this reaction proves the common expectation of a journalist
is to be fair and open, socialized, egalitarian, objective and
critical, etc.. These mandated characteristics, upon further
reflection, seem not only silly and conservative but contradictory.
Beyond Furtherfield, I also missed, skipped or omitted Paul Pieroni
of SPACE and the upcoming Rhododendron ii,
Amalia Ulman and Felix Lee's Mawu-Lisa show, Iain Ball, Emily Jones,
Ed Fournieles, Rachel Reupke, Stuart Comer, Seventeen Gallery, Paul B. Davis, etc. etc.,
I could go on for ages. And if you feel a certain space wherever
doesn't get enough play, why not write about it yourself? Personally,
I'm certainly not done writing about my experiences across the pond.

The observation that London seems more politically engaged was purely an
empirical one, and one made apparent by the massive student protests
in London, as well as the many conversations I had there. A
proclivity for thinking critically about social networks signals that
there's a collective awareness about the problematics of Facebook,
etc., and that those critical don't adhere to it blindly. In NY, I've only seen artists proselytizing their own work via Facebook, with little heed paid to the significance of their utilization of that tool. In London, I met a few people, including Ed Fournieles, who have created their own social networks online or IRL in order to study or reflect upon their functionality or maybe even render them obsolete for a small public.

I second Ben that while London "feels" more political,
(and, yes, of course, OBVIOUSLY no one can prove that), NYC also
often feels more theoretically-engaged. And perhaps this is because
of my experience writing for NYC-based publications and my
participation in a NYC-based media theory reading group. But I'd also
argue that these worlds, of course, are incredibly diverse (and I'm
not referring solely [or at all?] to the "internet art scene,"),
NYC for one feels less cognizant of its existence as a cog in the
wheel of the art market compared to London, and maybe even more
desperate. There are many more observations one can make
that may be over generalized or may be felt collectively--but they'll only be rendered substantive through conversation. As
understood by a few people here, this article was written to both
communicate ideas but also hopefully ignite some conversation between
the two cities.

Jennifer Chan, you can find my article on the Piccadillly Community Centre on Art-Agenda.