You are on page 1of 7

9/5/13

Home Publications:FriezeMagazine FriezeMagazine Friezed/e ArtFairs FriezeArtFairLondon FriezeArtFairNewYork FriezeMasters NotForProfit FriezeFoundation FriezeProjectsNY Friezenetwork

Frieze Magazine | Archive | Good Circulation

LogIn

Register

Why?

Search

GO

Home

Archive

Blog

Shows

Listings

Subscribe

Classifieds

Digital

About Contact Press Advertise

Issue90April2005

GoodCirculation
CRITICISM

Aboutthisarticle
Firstpublishedin Issue90,April2005 byJrgHeiser

Artistsexplorethespacebetweenproductionand consumption:whoisaddressedandhow?

Printthisarticle

Sharethisarticle:

OtherArticlesinCriticismView
all

Talk,TalkIssue148 AnalyzeThisIssue133 ArtinTheoryIssue109 BritishArt(doesIt)Show?Issue96

Amanandawomansitatatable,rackingtheirbrainsandnot sayingmuch.AretheyConceptualartists,orcurators,tryingto comeupwiththenextidea?No;MonicaBonvicinisvideo graduallyrevealsthattheyworkinpublicrelationsandhavebeen askedtocomeupwithanadvertisingcampaignforWerbungstatt Kunst(AdvertisingReplacesArt,2002),theartistscontributionto thepublicartprojectAussendienst(Fieldwork)inHamburg. Finally,theymakeaconsciousdecisiontodumbdown,justforthe hellofit:theywillputportraitsofwellknownartistswithcatchy slogansonlocalbuses,promotingartasifitwereahousehold appliance.Yet,theydiscover,artprovesaparticularlyHardSell (2002). BorisGroysdeclaredthatinrecentdecadesartistshavebecome exemplaryconsumers,rummagingthroughculturesbargain basement.1Inmuchthesamevein,andequippedwithMichelde Certeausassertionthatconsumptionisapotentiallysubversive tacticofselectionandcombination,NicolasBourriaudhas observedafundamentalscramblingofboundariesbetween consumptionandproduction.2Hearguesthatartisticpractices forwhichhehascoinedthetermrelationalaestheticsestablish relationsbetweenpeopleandtheworld,bywayofaesthetic objects,3ultimatelyconsideringinterhumanexchangean aestheticobjectinandofitself.Theartistmodelsand disseminatesdisconcertingsituations,Bourriaudcontinues,and

EnergyFoolstheMagicianIssue85 DoubleOrQuitsIssue50 SomeonetoWatchOverMeIssue1

OtherArticlesbyJrgHeiser
TheFilmEssayIssue157 LipServiceIssue155 ChristianMayerIssue153 RosngelaRennIssue150 Dias&RiedwegIssue150 Focus:MatheusRochaPittaIssue149 IsaGenzkenIssue146 Words&DeedsIssue144 Focus:HelenMartenIssue143 HappyReturnsIssue141 TradingPlacesComment LeonVrankenShows HongkongandShenzhenComment ChinaComment JonathanHorowitzShows (87Total).Viewall

RSSFeeds
1/7

https://www.frieze.com/issue/article/good_circulation/

9/5/13

Frieze Magazine | Archive | Good Circulation


GettheUniversalfeed,ortheMagazine Issuesfeedtobeupdatedofnewarticles inthissection.

strivestoshatterthelogicofthespectacle.4Butinwhosename doesheorsheact?Andwhogetsinvolvedintheensuinginter humanexchange?IstherelationalartistaModernisthero fightingalonebattleagainstcommercialculture,inrelational bondwithsomekindofsupportgroupofviewersthatcheershim orherontothefront? Interhumanexchangesuggestsdirectcontactbetweenartistand viewer.Oneisremindedoftheconsumersocietysmantra boostedbytheadventofecommercetellingpeopletocutoutthe middleman:toestablishdirect,unmediatedtrade.ButbothGroys andBourriaud,assumingtheerasureofthedistinctionbetween productionandconsumption,failtomentionwhatconstitutesthe middleterminthatclassiceconomictriad:production,circulation andconsumption.Theyconsidertherelationshipbetweenartists andtheformstheypropose(understoodastheembodimentsof ideas),andtheinteractionsbetweenpeopleandtheworld triggeredbyit,buttheyseemtoignoretherelationbetweenthese formsandotherforms.Thetermcirculationisshorthandforthe waysinwhichthefluctuatingrelationsbetweenforms(fromboth insideandoutsideart)codefinetherelationsbetweenartistsand theiraudience.Ofcourse,anykindofworkfromanyperiod, unlessitexistsinablackholeinouterspace,canbelookedat fromthisperspective.Butthepointisthatoverrecentdecades artistsseemtohavebecomeincreasinglyawareoftheissueof circulationnotonlyasapracticalsocialandeconomicone, externaltotheiractualwork,butanaestheticone,atthecoreofit. Originallycirculationwasatermforthemetabolicdistribution andredistributionoffluidsandmatter,implyingqualitativeand quantitativetransformationviamovement.Asametaphor,ithas beenhistoricallylinkedtourbanization,theflowofpopulaceand trafficinthecity.Fromabout1750moneybeginstocirculatethe likesoftheBarondeMontesquieuandJeanJacquesRousseauuse theterminconnectionwithcurrencyandlabour;aftertheFrench Revolutionnewspapers,ideasandgossipcirculate;after1880so dotraffic,airandpower.5ForKarlMarxcirculationisthesphere ofsupplyanddemand,wheredistributionorganizestheexchange ofgoodsandmoney:inotherwords,themarket.Thekindof circulationVladimirIlyichLeninhadinmindwhen,withhis 1902pamphlet,heconfidentlyaskedWhatistobeDone?wasone thatinvolvednewspapersandpartyapparatuses,inorderto spreadthewordandorganizetheworkingclass.Thisemphatic, forwardleaning,onewaywilltocirculationwasperhapsmost vividlyembodiedinthespiralstructureofVladimirTatlins MonumenttotheThirdInternational(1919).Butinatragicironic way,thankstoLeninsbrusquerejectionoftheirideas,the Constructivistsweresparedthefateofaesthetisizingthelater totalitarianregime. Todaythequestionwhatistobedone?cansoundalmostidiotic, whileareturntotheideaofspreadingthemessageseems preposterous.Perhapsthecontemporaryoffspringofwhatistobe done?isahealthilydoubtfulwhat,forwhom,andhow?Yetthe questionisnotaninnocentone:itgoesagainstculturessupposed exceptionalstatusoutsidethemarketeconomy,anditcouldcome straightfromthemouthofamarketingexecutive,scoutingfuture targetgroups.But,asMaurizioLazzaratohaspointedout,the insistenceonculturalexceptionironicallyweakensthepotential ofculturetoresistitssubordinationtoeconomicimperatives. Culturalknowledgeisnotaformofmerchandiselikeanyother, althoughthemarketconsistentlytriestoreduceittofiscaland productexchange.However,thevaluescoregulatingthe immaterialproductionofthisknowledgeaestheticpotentialand politicalgravitybothcharmanddisrupttheeconomysthirstfor inventiveness.Lazzaratosconclusionisthatthestrategyof culturalexceptionmustbeturnedonitsheadculturesethics mustbenotexemptedfrom,butappliedto,economics.6The

Advertisewithfrieze

https://www.frieze.com/issue/article/good_circulation/

2/7

9/5/13

Frieze Magazine | Archive | Good Circulation

downsideisobvious:theethicsofcultureappliedtoeconomyare notinevitablybeneficialidealisminonespherecanbe exploitationinanother.Butforbetterorworse,inordertomove beyondthetrenchwarfarebetween,ontheonehand,the autonomyofartand,ontheother,itsfusionwiththe entertainmentindustry,thequestionofhow,andtowhom, aestheticandintellectualknowledgecirculatesbecomescentral. HansHaackesworkmarkstheshiftofcirculationfromphysical phenomenontoeconomicmetaphor:fromwaterintransparent cubes(CondensationCube,19635)andtubes(Circulation,1969) totheprovenancethehistoryofcirculationofapaintingin relationtodeNazifiedpatronsoftheWallrafRichartzMuseum inCologne(ManetProjekt74,1974).Thelatterworkwasa frontalattackontheshieldingofeconomicandhistoricrelations withinanartinstitutionandresultedinthecancellationofits display.InordertocirculatetherevealinginformationHaacke usedConceptualmeansofdisplayratherthan,say,documentary filmornewspaperreportageironicallyresultingintheworks disseminationanywherebutonthegallerywallsforwhichithad beenintended. RobertBarrysInvitationPiece(19723)constructsthe distributionofinformationasliterallycircular.Firstaninvitation wassentfromthePaulMaenzGalleryinColognetoanexhibition atArt&PublicinAmsterdam;thereanotherinvitationcardinturn advisedtherecipienttogotoLondon,andsoforthuntilToronto sentavidBarryviewersbacktoCologne.Thereferentialmerrygo rounddissolvedartintothemeansofitsownmediation.Barrys pieceresidesasmuchintheinvitationcardsthemselvesasinthe attemptstovisitanyofthenameddestinations,wherenothing wastobefoundbutasemioticloophole.Accordingly,circulation designatesnotsimplytheAtoBdistributionofobjectsandideas butalsothewaythesegainalifeoftheirownastheypassfrom handtohand,housetohouse,mouthtomouthincludingthe possibilityofalterationsandthedangersofexploitation.Itslike deliberatelyturninghardfactintorumour,forthesakeofallowing theunforeseentohappen. InGianniMottis2004retrospectiveattheMigrosMuseum, Zurich,hisworkwasnotactuallypresentbutwasrecountedinthe formofstories.TourguidesworeTshirtswiththeslogan PlausibleDeniability(2004),thetitleoftheexhibitionanda bitinghintatthefactthateverythingtheysaidaboutMotti staginghisownfuneral,orinfiltratingaUNsessionasafake Indonesiandelegatecouldplausiblybedenied.Ofcourse,this circulationofanecdotesandtalesfunctionsonlyaslongasthe artistsimultaneouslywithholdsthecirculationofproper documentation(akeyelementalsoinTinoSehgalsactionsduring exhibitions). Withholdingonelineofcirculationwhileusinganotherseemsa commondialecticalmethod.KatyaSandersMonumentforImage ProductionandImageConsumption(2004)testifiestothisin regardtothemassmedia.Askedtoproposeacontemporary monumentinCopenhagen,sheproducedapieceincollaboration withthesecondlargestnationaldailynewspaper,Politiken.One daylastsummerasecondversionofthepaper,purgedof everythingbutthepicturesandthefrontpagelogo,wasgiven awayfreewithanypurchaseoftheoriginal,withnoprior announcementorexplanation.Thepiececanbereadasapious lessonaboutthemindlessproductionandconsumptionofimages, butitsfirstandforemostamonumenttotheirfleeting,extensive circulation. On11September2002herbirthdayNewYorkbased AleksandraMirpublishedatabloidnewspaper,DailyNews.She hadaskedmorethan100friendstocontributeapieceoftheir choice,fromcrosswordpuzzlestopoliticalmanifestosandrecipes. TheprojectreclaimedMirsdateofbirth(thebannerheadline

https://www.frieze.com/issue/article/good_circulation/

3/7

9/5/13

Frieze Magazine | Archive | Good Circulation

screamedHappyBirthday!);moreover,atatimewhenithad becomeunpatriotictodissent,itcelebratedfreedomofspeechin thesenseofcirculatingeveryresponse.Thefactthatthepaper appearedasafree,oneoffeditionof1,000copiesreflectedthefact thatthisvisionoffreecirculationwasUtopian,adaydreamcome trueatgrassrootslevel. JensHaaningplasteredhisposterArabicJoke(2002)acrosscity centresincludingAarhusinDenmark,HoustonintheUS,and GenevainSwitzerland.WhiteArabiclettersagainstastrident combinationofredandgreencreatedtheimpressionforthose whocantreadArabicthatitmustbeIslamicpropagandain fact,ittellsajokeaboutamanwhothinkshesagrainofwheat. Withalightcomictouchthepiecebringsoutthexenophobia latentevenamongthewellmeaning.Forhiscontributiontothe exhibitionPublicnessinLondon,Haaningtransportedallthe chairsfromtheICAscaftoastreetinKarachi,wheretheycould betakenawayforfreebypassersby(RedistributionLondon Karachi,2003).Itseasytogetlostincloudyreferencesto globalizationandculturalexchange,butwhatsreallyinteresting istheconcretewhenandwhereofthispiece:sinceKarachiis wherejournalistDanielPearlwasmurderedandwheremanyAl Qaedaterroristshavebeencaptured,formanyintheWestthecity hasbecomevirtuallysynonymouswithfear.Withoutdirectly referringtoit,Haaningeloquentlyplaysonthisfear,yetcounters itbypracticallyturningatheftintoagift. AvideopiecebyBulgarianartistNedkoSolakovreflectsthe desperate,andcruellycomic,economicaspectsofsocalled culturalexchange.InvitedtomakeaprojectinDenmark,Solakov changeda1,000Kronenoteintodollars,thenconvertedthe dollarsbackintoKroneandsoon,untilthemoneywaseatenup inexchangeratesandcommission(TheDeal,2002).InEastern Europelargepartsofthepopulation,notleastintellectualsand artists,areforcedtoearntheirlivingbytravellingeveryweekend bybusandtraintosellstuffoutofsuitcasesatmarketsinfaraway towns;oftentheyhavetobribecustomsofficersandMafiatypes alongtheway.Thissuitcaseeconomymarkstheshiftfrom socialismtoneoplutocraticcapitalism. LikeSolakov,MatthieuLaurettediscoveredastrategyfor confusingtheprincipleofvalue,thistimeforafamilygameshow. FromanartprojectbudgetinBilbao,Laurettedeviseda programmeforBasqueTV,ElGranTruque(TheGreatExchange, 2000):theideawasthatinakindofphoneinauctionpeople couldofferobjectsnexchangeforacarofferedbyLaurettethe highestofferwouldbeaccepted,andtheninturnbepresentedthe followingweekforanotherexchange,andsoon.Afterafew monthstheseriesofswapsfinishedwiththepresentationofsix blueglasses.Theeconomysdemandforgrowthhadbeenturned onitshead:whatstartedwithacarworthasmallfortuneended withsomethingyoumightfindatacarbootsale.Thisstrategyof turningrulesofcirculationagainstthemselvesalsoinforms LaurettesCitizenshipProject(1998ongoing),inwhichhe investigatestherequirementsforobtainingpassportsofcountries allovertheworld,andthenmakesthisinformationavailableona website.Theexperimentultimatelyisawaytotestthelimitsofthe ideologicalfoundationsonwhichthelawsgoverningaccessto citizenshiparebased. Issuesofaccessandnationalitywerealsobroughtintoplayin SantiagoSierrasclosingoftheSpanishPavilionattheVenice Biennalein2003,whenonlyholdersofaSpanishpassportwere allowedtoenterthepavilionthroughabackdoor(WallEnclosing aSpace,2003).Asrigorousasthegesturewas,itdistortedthe politicalrealitiesitsoboldlyseemedtoreferto:whilethereisno situationinwhichonlyownersofaSpanishpassportwouldbe allowedintothecountry,peoplereallyaredrowninginthestraits ofGibraltarastheytrydesperatelytoentertheterritoryofthe

https://www.frieze.com/issue/article/good_circulation/

4/7

9/5/13

Frieze Magazine | Archive | Good Circulation

EuropeanUnion.Onemightexpectreferentialprecisionfrom Sierra,aspassportsandvisaregulationsnotleastrelateto peoplesvalueaslabourersavaluecentraltohisconcern.His usualstrategyistodivert,forthedurationofapiece,peoplewho aredesperateenoughtodoanythingformoney(uneducated workers,illegalimmigrants,junkies,prostitutes)intothewhite cube:hestainsitwiththeconcreterealityofobscene exploitation,whileconsciouslytakingadvantageofit.Heseems adamantabouttheissueofpayment:itshouldnotbesubstantially more(butcouldinfactbeless)thanusual.In1999Sierrahadan employmentagencyhire465malemestizo(mixedrace)workers tostandinthegalleryspaceanumbercalculatedtocreatea densityoffivepeoplepersquaremetreforthreehoursduringan openingatamuseuminMexicoCity(465PaidPeople,1999).The officialdescriptionofthepieceontheartistswebsitementions thatapparentlytheagencyactuallymightnothavepaidanyone, butaskedfriendsandabattalionofsoldierstoattendforfree. Theredistributionofpeopleintothewhitecubefreezeframesone ofthecharacteristiceffectsofmarketcirculation:whilemaking objectsappearalmostlikelivingbeings,italsoturnslivingbeings intoobjects.LuisCamnitzerhaspointedoutthatSierrasideaof involvinglowpaidworkershasahistoricalprecedentin ArgentinianartistOscarBonysLaFamiliaObrera(The ProletarianFamily,1968)7:toexhibitason,motherandfatheron apedestalinagallery,Bonypaidthelatterexactlytwicehishourly rateasadiecutter.Thepaymentwasconceptuallyethical:the workersfamilywascommodified,asanyonewhoentersthe labourmarketistosomeextent,butasthefamilyweredoubledin theactofbeingexhibited,sowasthepayment.Bycontrast,Sierra preferstodoubletheexploitation. SomemayseeSierrasworkasstaringunflinchinglyintotheabyss ofart:asifhewasforcingtheprivilegedtoendurethesheer presenceofthefierceexploitationfromwhichtheyultimately benefit.Butifthatisthecase,heletshisaudienceoffverylightly hemakesnottheslightestefforttopointout,ortoincorporateinto hiswork,theconcretereasonsforpeoplesexploitation.Hemakes povertylooklikeadark,brooding,mysteriousfate,asinescapable aswaste.Thiscouldnothavebeenmademoreliteralthaninhis recentprojectattheKestnergesellschaftinHanover.SierrasHaus imSchlamm(HouseintheMud,2005)wastofillthegroundfloor ofthebuildingwithmudfromthenearbyMaschsee,anartificial lakecreatedbetween1934and1936bythousandsofworkers employedbytheNazisforjustafewpenceperhour.Thepress releasecitedWalterDeMariasEarthRooms(196877)byway ofarthistoricalcredentials.Butcomparedtothesilentpresenceof thelatter,Sierrasinstalmentwasathunderoustheatricalevent. Themudwasshapedintocanyons,andshovelsanda wheelbarrowwerestuckinit,asiftheworkersemployedbythe Nazishadjustpoppedoutforacigarette.Visitorswereallowedto enterandspreadtheirmuddyfootprintsonthebeigecarpetingon thefirstfloor,especiallylaidoutfortheoccasion. WhatwasSierraspoint?Ifitwasapurelyaestheticone,itdid indeedcreateanimpressivevistayoudontoftenseethewhite cubesoliterallyswamped.Butreferencewise,Sierracouldnthave beenmorewrong.TheKestnergesellschaftwasclosedbythe Nazisin1936:untilshortlybeforethattimeitsJewishdirector, JustusBier,hadshownworksbyartistswhoayearlaterwere stigmatizedintheNazisEntarteteKunst(DegenerateArt) exhibition.Sierrasredistributionofthemudoncemovedbycheap labourandNazipropagandafeltnotlikeagestureofrespectto Bierandhislegacy,butlikeadrunkeninsultthrownatit.(Itis ironicallyappropriatethatbecauseofbacteriologicalrisks,mud fromtheMaschseecouldnotactuallybeusedandhadtobe replacedwithgunkfromanotherlake.) Whenitcomestothedelicatesubjectofthecirculationofpeople intermsoftheirlabourvaluethemostimportantpointiswhether

https://www.frieze.com/issue/article/good_circulation/

5/7

9/5/13

Frieze Magazine | Archive | Good Circulation

theartistremainsalooforpreferstoputhimorherselfonthesame levelasthosewhoarehisorhermaterial.Thereisnodoubt aboutwhatkindofriftopensupinthisrespectbetweenSierras displayofpoverty(andVanessaBeecroftsdisplayofluxury,for thatmatter)ontheonehand,andthepracticesofartistssuchas Laurette,MirorHaaningontheother.Whiletheformerappearas superiormanipulatorsinthebackground,concernedchieflywith formalshockandaweratherthanconceptualconsistency,the latterminglewiththeirsubjectsasifincessantlyreminding themselves,inahumble,canthelpitway,ofthecrucialquestion: whatsforwhom,andhow? ClassicModernismwasdominatedbyanotionofproductionthat focusedattentiononartisticauthorship(correspondingtotherise ofmassindustrialproduction);Postmodernismdescribedthe artistasaneclecticbricoleur(correspondinginturntotheriseof consumersociety);currentlywefindourselvesinaperiodof capitalismwherethekeyfactorshapingbotheconomicsand cultureiscirculation.Theseareshiftsnotofsubstancebutof accent;ofcourse,productionandconsumptionhaventvanished. Butthedecisivequestioniswhatregulatesthedistribution,the patents,thewhatforwhom(fromtheavailabilityofAIDS medicationtoonlinecopyrights).TheInternetandairtravelare technologicalciphersforthebeautifulillusionthateverythingis accessibletoanyone,anytime,anywherewhileweallknowonly toowellthatthisisnottrue. InBonvicinisvideowefinallyseetheoutcomeofthePRpeoples struggletoisolatethekeyproductmessageofart.Asaprovincial brassbandplaystocelebratetheinauguration,busesdriveoffwith thelargerthanlifeadsemblazonedonthem:oneoftheslogans readsKunstschmeckt(Arttastesgood)andfeaturesasmiling RirkritTiravanijaholdingupachocolateEasterbunny.
1BorisGroys,DerKnstleralsKonsument(TheArtistasConsumer),in MaxHolleinandChristophGrunenberg(ed.),Shopping,HatjeCantz, Ostfildern,pp.5560 2NicolasBourriaud,Postproduction,Lukas&Sternberg,NewYork,2002,p. 13 3NicolasBourriaud,RelationalAesthetics,LesPressesduRel,Paris,2002, p.42 4Bourriaud,Postproduction,p.26ff. 5ErikSwyngedouw,CirculationsandMetabolisms:(Hybrid)Naturesand (Cyborg)Cities,http://www.ru.nl/socgeo/n/colloquium/science.pdf 6MaurizioLazzarato,EuropeanCulturalTraditionandtheNewFormsof ProductionandCirculationofKnowledge,1998, http://www.nettime.org/ListsArchives/nettimel9810/msg00113.html 7LuisCamnitzer,Art&Economy,Hamburg(review),ArtNexus,no.45(July 2002),http://www.artnexus.com/servlet/NewsDetail?documentid=8830

JrgHeiser

friezeisnowacceptingletterstotheeditorsforpossible publicationateditors@frieze.com.

Combined subscriptionoffer
Subscribetobothfrieze(8 issues)andfriezed/e(4 issues),andhaveboth deliveredtoyourdoorfrom only60forayear.

Podcasts
DoyouspeakEnglish? Addedon15/10/11 FriezeProjects2011

Stayupdated
Signuptoouremailnewsletter
Name:

Email:

Currentvacancies
https://www.frieze.com/issue/article/good_circulation/ 6/7

9/5/13

Frieze Magazine | Archive | Good Circulation

Publications
FriezeNewYork Catalogue201314 UK24.95 BuythenewFriezeNew YorkCatalogue201314

Frieze1MontclareStreet,LondonE27EU,UK,+44(0)2033726111

SitebyErskineDesign|BacktoTop

https://www.frieze.com/issue/article/good_circulation/

7/7