Afterall is pleased to present issue 33, Summer 2013, in which different approaches to the exhibition of performance are framed within a broader examination of the performative in contemporary art. Through a close reading of the work of artists such as Xavier Le Roy and Mark Leckey, this issue of Afterall explores the interaction and, at times, indiscernible borders between human bodies, inert objects, artworks and virtual beings in contemporary art practice. Accompanying essays look at the format of the lecture-performance and explore questions around the re-performance of historical works. Considerations of the work of Josef Dabernig and Simryn Gill expand the discussion of performance into the fields of image-making and the relationships between filmed and architectural space.
The issue opens with an essay by Rike Frank that examines the lecture-performance as part of a general shift towards time-based art and exhibition making. Against the background of the increasing privatisation of education and enclosure of knowledge, Frank sees in conversational formats such as the lecture-performance the potential to interrogate the social conditions and processes of knowing.
Processes of unlearning are central to choreographer Xavier Le Roy‘s enquiry into the human body. Marcella Lista discusses the aesthetic principles at the core of his twenty-year-long oeuvre, while Chris Sharp narrates his initiation into Le Roy’s 2012 exhibition Retrospective at Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona—the choreographer’s most ambitious incursion into the art context yet—and examines its diffraction of authorship into a multiplicity of bodies and subjectivities. The use of narrative in Le Roy’s work resonates in Mark Leckey‘s elaborate lecture-performances, which focus on the mediation of bodies through technology. Esther Leslie analyses the animism underpinning his digital-age montage, and Mark Lewis considers artistic quotation in his work as a form of rivalrous love. Furthermore, Maeve Connolly looks at the role that televisual objects play in recent exhibitions by artists such as Nathaniel Mellors, Shana Moulton, and Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, thus providing a wider context for Leckey’s interest in broadcast technologies.
Rather than looking forward to the technologies of the future, the work of Josef Dabernig and Simryn Gill is attentive to the layering of history in their respective local surroundings. The tension between matter and meaning, content and context is at the heart of the work of Malaysian-born, Australian-based artist Simryn Gill. Weng Choy Lee looks at her text works, in which the written page often gains an objectual form, whereas Anders Kreuger considers how the found objects photographed in her series My Own Private Angkor (2007–09) become characters in an abstract visual play of sorts. If Gill concentrates on minimal gestures that she loads with conceptual irony, the films, text works and sculptures of Austrian artist Josef Dabernig can be said to use a similar economy of means and a kindred, if more absurd, humour to explore the political and social landscape of Europe. Derelict modern social architecture and the dystopian outskirts of provincial grey cities provide the backdrop of his slapstick-like films with satirical overtones, here analysed by Daniel Fairfax. Placing these works in the context of Dabernig’s conceptual oeuvre, María Berríos writes on the artist’s broader interest in modern structures of order and the continual succession of ever-lapsing ‘new styles.’
Finally, two accompanying essays consider diverging attempts at recuperating recent local art history. Artists Audrey Chan, Alexandra Grant and Elana Mann look back at their re-creation of 1960s and ’70s feminist works for the festival Pacific Standard Time (2011–12) in Los Angeles, and discuss the value of re-performance as a means to create an embodied relationship with the past. In addition, Valentín Roma reflects upon the research, exhibition and publication project ‘Desacuerdos’ (2003–ongoing), which has brought together a network of independent researchers and institutions to investigate antagonistic artistic practices in Spain since the restoration of democracy in 1976 until the early 2000s.
We are delighted to announce that from now on every new issue of Afterall will be available to subscribers as an e-book edition, suitable for all e-readers, through the University of Chicago Press website. Download your copy here if you are already a subscriber, or subscribe here.
Afterall is also pleased to announce that its co-director Charles Esche has been appointed Curator of the São Paulo Biennial 2014, and will be leading a team including Afterall editors Nuria Enguita Mayo and Pablo Lafuente.
This autumn, Afterall will present a single-work exhibition by Rodney Graham in the Lethaby Gallery at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. The work, Phonokinetoscope (2001), is also the subject of a One Work book by Shepherd Steiner, which will be published this autumn alongside an e-book re-print of Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous by Jan Verwoert. The latest book in the Exhibition Histories series, Making Art Global (Part 2): ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ 1989, will be launched on 11 July 2013 at castillo/corrales in Paris.
Afterall journal is published by Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, in editorial partnership with M HKA, Antwerp, the Smart Museum of Art and the Open Practice Committee, University of Chicago, and UNIA arteypensamiento, Seville, and in association with the University of Chicago Press.
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