In the introduction to Formalism and Historicity , a compilation of essays originally published between and , Benjamin H. Buchloh suggests that these should be read from the perspective of contemporary art. And history goes on, too, however frightened and hopeless its continuation might make us feel. We still view our contemporary art; more than that, we consume and ponder it as never before. Although Buchloh writes of the present, he is always gazing backwards into the past. Loss orients his approach to the now.
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In the introduction to Formalism and Historicity , a compilation of essays originally published between and , Benjamin H. Buchloh suggests that these should be read from the perspective of contemporary art. And history goes on, too, however frightened and hopeless its continuation might make us feel. We still view our contemporary art; more than that, we consume and ponder it as never before. Although Buchloh writes of the present, he is always gazing backwards into the past.
Loss orients his approach to the now. Themes of disrupted historical continuity, impersonations and absences, false doubles and careless heirs arise throughout the articles in the book. Following Alain Badiou, we might say that Buchloh remains true to the event of revolution, but the path of this fidelity has become ever more attenuated and difficult as it has passed through two periods of unconditional decline, the s and the s. The first saw the rise of totalitarian regimes and preceded the moment when Buchloh entered the arena as spectator and critic.
Buchloh himself witnessed the second period, which saw the rise of neoconservative and neoliberal regimes and the dismantling of the welfare state.
Among postwar European artists, the principal positive characters in the book are Marcel Broodthaers and Piero Manzoni, who migrate from one essay to the next. Buchloh regards the former, in particular, as a supremely important practitioner of allegorical strategies in contemporary art, and the essay on his work is the only monograph of its kind in the book. To these we can also add messianism, which is likewise explicit in Benjamin and implicit in Adorno.
But this is not all that Buchloh has learned from the Frankfurt School: he has also mastered the art of locating cultural products within the overall system of production predominating in a given society.
But it might also make us freer, even as it moves the contemplation of art away from the realm of criticism and art history and toward contiguous disciplines such as anthropology. Clark once put it, revealing more with the second noun than with the first. Here the history of radical art is that of an endless war on a spectacle, which is perpetually seizing the weapons of resistance.
Attempts to elude such recuperation set art on a path of monkish asceticism, which manifests as the rejection of any intoxicated delight in the illusions art is capable of supplying, in the exposure of all fascination with fetishistic possession or seamless identities. His ideological orthodoxy corresponds to a geopolitical centralism. The social function of these essays cannot be structurally separated from either, which does nothing to alter their sobering critical value.
A book which lifts writings from their historical context in the soft-cover magazines where they originally appeared can only reinforce the impression of a seamless system of analysis, crushing in its grandeur.
Of course, the sense of summation and academicization of hitherto living reflection is an unavoidable side effect of such collections.
A stronger impression of the same sort was produced by Art Since Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism , a two-volume textbook authored by Buchloh, Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, and Yve-Alain Bois, and designed to cement the exceptional authority that has long collected around October.
Buchloh calls for responsive strategic thinking. For the investigations that occupy Buchloh promise their own sort of intoxication, albeit one different than that of conservative art, which charms us with illusions and oblivion. The glare from his enlightenment is blinding, and as we observe the patterns Buchloh has detected, we cease to consider the peripheral, the incomplete, or the contested.
For the real fissure of the subject, which Buchloh himself discusses, consists in the detection of the inevitable blind spots that arise in any system of knowledge, panoptical or otherwise. Identifying these fissures—which are present within each of us—can hardly be labeled practically or pragmatically valuable if we deem practical and pragmatic only what is subject to instrumentalization, monitoring, and rational management.
And yet, this fissure is inseparable from any attempts to act on current conditions. For example, what do I see around me? I see that young artists in Russia, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America want to say something, to speak about what worries and interests them and to pursue social change. Almost none are interested in a hermetic criticism and reflection on language itself, neither modernist nor postmodernist, and this obliviousness renders many of them naive.
Some of them go to art school where, as some people think, they can be trained to speak the idiom of contemporary art. But even those young artists who do not study anywhere see this language art as a ready-made means of communication, one of many possible media, as an extant medium, and as a global post-Conceptual language.
But who can hear what is said in this language? What place does this medium occupy among all the others? On the one hand, as Buchloh teaches—and following the legacy of the Frankfurt School—we should not relegate the structures of art production to oblivion; we should not indulge in childish rapture over the very fact of access to utterance. Instead, the question, as ever, becomes: How can we proceed to speak within the real of our current moment, here and now, without being overly flattered by our own articulations or indulging any unnecessary illusions about their place in the political economy?
What does the desire for art look like, under the circumstances? An unequivocal, universal, and seamless answer to these questions is impossible. Gleb Napreenko is a Russian art critic and art historian. He has studied in the Art History Department of the Moscow State University and has published his writings on websites such as openspace.
If it were, if the value-process were reducible to the labor-process, or vice versa, then both art and inflation would be impossible. Duchamp understood this even before Keynes did. Marxists don't like to admit it, but their whole show Hito Steyerl. I love history. Fumes are rising from the engine. It is driven off a WWII memorial pedestal and promptly goes to war. Gleb Napreenko. Such art is situated on the verge It was not long ago that the Western art system was an object of intense focus and emulation throughout China.
Beginning with the enthusiastic introduction of Western philosophical writings and Modernist artworks in the s, this one-way exchange crystallized into a dichotomy, with China and tradition on one side, and modernity and the West on the other. Post-Mao, Chinese intellectuals embraced a progressive narrative of history wherein Western Europe and North America represented the Ilya Budraitskis.
The dramatic events in Russia and Ukraine over the past two years have begun a new phase in the struggle over the legacy of communism in the post-Soviet space. McKenzie Wark. In each stage, that field has a certain definitive quality. The rise of industry, and the struggle between worker and capitalist, produces a more abstract topography, a second nature. The rise of information and the struggle between Charles Tonderai Mudede. The movie is The Pirogue.
It begins in Senegal, and has a young fisherman, Baye Laye played by Souleymane Seye Ndiaye , as its central character There is nothing related.
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A Farewell to Totality
Essays spanning three decades by one of the most rigorous art thinkers of our time grapple with formal and historical paradigms in twentieth century art. These influential essays by the noted critic and art historian Benjamin Buchloh have had a significant impact on the theory and practice of art history. Written over the course of three decades and now collected in one volume, they trace a history of crucial artistic transitions, iterations, and paradigmatic shifts in the twentieth century, considering both the evolution and emergence of artistic forms and the specific historical moment in which they occurred. Although these essays are less monographic than those in Buchloh's earlier collection, Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry , two essays in this volume are devoted to Marcel Broodthaers, whose work remains central to Buchloh's theoretical concerns. Engaging with both formal and historical paradigms, Buchloh situates himself productively between the force fields of formal theory and historical narrative, embracing the discrepancies and contradictions between them and within individual artistic trajectories.
Farewell to an Identity
Much has been made lately, in newspaper style sections and the blogosphere alike, of the fissures, anxieties and turbulences exposed in the glamorous and frenzied world of high fashion. The fatigue and exasperation recently expressed by industry players such as Raf Simons or Alexander Wang—both of whom rather abruptly fled high-paying, prestigious gigs at some of the most venerated houses last season—over excessive workloads, creative burnout or stagnation however seem curiously belated from the vantage of point of contemporary discourse. Alleged conditions characteristic of post-Fordist labor such as creative exhaustion, self-exploitation, depression and jadedness have thematically nourished entire artistic careers and curatorial frameworks for over a decade. The discourse—or cultural malaise—of late-capitalist alienation, followed by strategic complicity absorbing ineffective artistic autonomy and avant-garde criticality, was an evolutionary process from an art-historical perspective. Luxury brands with mass-appeal like Burberry, not afflicted by the art-fashion identity crisis, consequently have announced their logical next steps in doing away with this intolerable and growth-hindering state of affairs.