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Directora / Editor Alicia Murría directora@artecontexto.com Subdirectora / Senior Editor Ana Carceller redaccion@artecontexto.com Coordinación para Latinoamérica Latin America Coordinator: Eva Grinstein redaccion@artecontexto.com Equipo de Redacción / Editorial Staff: Alicia Murría, Natalia Maya Santacruz, Ana Carceller, Eva Grinstein, Santiago B. Olmo. redaccion@artecontexto.com Asistente Editorial / Editorial Assistant: Natalia Maya Santacruz, redaccion@artecontexto.com Directora de Publicidad Advertising Director: Marta Sagarmínaga publicidad@artecontexto.com Suscripciones / Subscriptions: suscripciones@artecontexto.com Distribución / Distribution: distribucion@artecontexto.com COEDIS S.L. tel. 93 680 03 60 coedis@coedis.com Oficinas / Office: tel. +34 91 365 65 96 C/ Santa Ana 14, 2º C. 28005 Madrid. ESPAÑA Diseño / Design: El viajero: www.elviajero.org Traducciones / Translations: Dwight Porter, Juan Sebastián Cárdenas, Benjamin Johnson

Colaboran en este número / Contributors: Ian Wallace, Pedro Medina Reinón, Alicia Murría, Jonathan Goodman, Vicente Carretón Cano, Agnaldo Farías, Natalia Maya Santacruz, Luís Francisco Pérez, Santiago B. Olmo, Francisco Baena, Uta M. Reindl, Santiago García Navarro, Bárbara Perea. Especial agradecimiento / Special thanks: Horacio Lefèvre y a todos los artistas que han aportado sus opiniones And to all the artitst who have contributed with their opinión.

ARTECoNTEXTo

ARTE CULTURA NUEvos MEDIos

ART CULTURE NEW MEDIA

ARTECONTEXTO arte cultura nuevos medios es una publicación trimestral de: ARTEHOY Publicaciones y Gestión, S.L. Impreso en España NILO Gráficas ISSN 1697-2341 Depósito legal: M-1968–2004 Todos los derechos reservados. Ninguna parte de esta publicación puede ser reproducida o transmitida por ningún medio sin el permiso escrito del editor. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means without written permission from the publisher. © de la edición: ARTEHOY Publicaciones y gestión, S.L. © de las imágenes, sus autores © de los textos, sus autores © de las traducciones, sus autores © de las reproducciones, VEGAP. Madrid 2004 Esta publicación es miembro de la Asociación de Revistas Culturales de España (ARCE) y de la Federación Iberoamericana de Revistas Culturales (FIRC).


4 SUMARIO CONTENTS

5

Primera página / Page One Alicía Murría

6

Dossier: LA VOZ DE LOS ARTISTAS / THE ARTISTS’ VOICE

8

Fotos de la calle / Street Photos Ian Wallace

20

Conversación con Liliana Porter A Conversation with Liliana Porter Pedro Medina Reinón

36

El cuerpo: puente, escenario, herramienta. Una entrevista con Marina Abramovi´ c. The Body: Link, Theatre, Instrument. An Interview with Marina Abramovi´ c.

56

Elahe Massumi: ficciones y fragmentos de realidad Elahe Massumi: Fictions and Fragments of Reality Alicia Murría

71

Los artístas opinan / The Artists’ Opinion Pep Agut, Milica Tomic, Pedro G. Romero, Alicia Framis, Carlos Garaicoa, Laura Torrado, Jorge Macchi, Simeón Sáiz, Gilda Mantilla, Joana Vasconcelos.

92

Cibercontexto Natalia Maya Santacruz

100

Noticias / News

112

Críticas de exposiciones / Reviews


PAGE ONE

PAGE ONE

Alicia Murría

The meagre presence of Spanish artists on

–understandably, perhaps, during the last

today’s international art scene is a recurring

eight years of conservative rule, but neither

complaint in this country; it emerged again

did it take place under the previous socialist

this past summer with Manifesta, and comes

government– and about the needs of all the

up with almost every biennale or major

groups involved in artistic creation and

encounter. Quite reasonably so, given the

mediation. Such a discussion, aimed at

level and quality of the production of

devising a serious overall project, has not

Spanish artists. But the summer also

been promoted by any public body, but

brought the welcome news that the two

neither has it been forthcoming from the

well-known professionals, María Corral and

private groups making up the art world.

Rosa Martínez, will be curators of the upcoming Venice Biennale. This pleases us

Such a discussion would require the

greatly and had considerable impact in art

participation of the Ministry of Culture

circles. One might easily think that this

(and also that of Foreign Affairs), along with

means that on this occasion, a good number

artists, museum directors, gallery owners,

of Spanish artists will be among those who

curators, critics, collectors, and

benefit from the international spotlight that

representatives of the specialised media. For

falls on Venice every two years. We hope

the first time, all these groups now appear

this occurs, and that this biennale is

to be aware of the need for such an

remembered for the high quality of the

initiative. But each group should have a

works shown. It would be naive to imagine

medium and long-range project, and not

that two Spanish curators, as worthy as

confine the discussion to urgent, short term

Corral and Martínez most certainly are, will

measures. A White Paper on the Spanish Art

suffice to remedy the precarious situation of

sector is not something that can be

Spanish artists in terms of international

improvised in a few weeks. Such an

promotion.

endeavour should be based on the contributions of each component group, and

This international visibility is an urgent

these contributions should list objectives

necessity, but it calls for a foundation that is

and strategies that have been agreed on by

presently lacking in Spain. And this lack is

representatives of each group. These are

no mystery, but the logical consequence of a

sine qua non conditions for serious

series of factors that cannot be put right by

negotiations with the different

means of isolated curatorial decisions. We

administrations towards achieving those

are referring to nothing more and nothing

profound and lasting changes which will

less than resolute and transparent cultural

enable us to emerge from the current

policies and guidelines for action. The fact is

system of personal patronage and from the

that there has yet to be a serious discussion

free-for-all that the Spanish art world has

about the cultural needs of this country

become.


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LA VOZ DE LOS ARTISTAS / THE ARTISTS’ VOICE

Ian

Liliana

Marina

AB Elahe


WALLACE PORTER RAMOVIC MASSUMI


Ian Wallace

WALLACE

by IAN

STREET PHOTOS The theme of the street in my photographic work began in late 1969 and has appeared intermittently in my work up to the present. The urban street, and the intersection in particular, forms the primary image for Poverty (1980), My Heroes in the Streets (1986), which was followed by the related street series that continued through the 90s, and most recently by the LA Series (2003) and the New York Series (2001-2004). Throughout this period I have also turned my attention to a variety of other themes but the image of the urban intersection and crosswalk remains as a key subject in my work. I do not claim my following comments to be either comprehensive or strictly analytic, but I will try to give some idea of how and when I got started on this idea.

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Between 1967 and 1969 I exhibited monochrome paintings and sculptural arrangements of standard building materials very much influenced by recent tendencies of minimalist abstract art of the New York School artists such as Frank Stella, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, Ad Reinhard, Don Judd and Barnett Newman; all of whose work I had seen during a trip to New York in the spring of 1967. I was impressed by the clarity, the monumentality and the radicalism of their work. This experience helped me establish what a work of art could be as a fundamental proposition. My primary interest was philosophical. I wanted to make a work that was completely itself, autonomous, and self-sufficient, and yet connected to what I felt were significant developments in recent contemporary art. My early attempts at monochrome


painting presented no image other than its own “objecthood”, and initially that was more than enough. Nevertheless, although this “zero degree” of monochrome painting opened up new directions in artistic practice, it seemed insufficient as a means of reflecting upon the more compelling aspects of contemporary life; those observations of changing relations in society that more image-oriented work of the time was effective in communicating, pop art being a key example. Although monochrome painting seemed to confirm autonomy, it lacked referential power. While its “objecthood” was solidly founded on the structuralist tendencies of the 60s, I felt that it didn’t have the semiotic richness that would take it into the 70s. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to fall back into the conventional artistic techniques of pictorial representation, which were unavoidable in the medium of painting. But recent photographic work that emerged from conceptual art practices in the late 60s, itself an amalgam of minimal sculpture, pop art and concrete poetry, seemed to offer some solution to the formal problems of late modernist abstraction without returning to figurative painting. Most importantly, it opened up new areas of thinking about contemporary life while still maintaining a connection to the formal and critical strategies of abstract minimalist art. My attraction to the subject of the street, the city and the social landscape in general came at a time when many other artists were doing likewise. I was intrigued then by recent photoconceptual projects that used mass media publication formats as an artistic medium, such as Dan Graham’s Homes for America (1966), Robert Smithson’s Monuments of Passaic (1967), Ed Ruscha’s All the Buildings on the Sunset Strip (1966), Piles by NE Thing Co. (1968), and Landscape Manual by Jeff Wall (1969). I was

Intersection NYC IV, 2003. 122 x 122 cm. Courtesy: Galería Tomás March

impressed by the way that the photographic images in these works presented a realistic, factual engagement with the world in all of its glorious banality, and thus suggested a latent political perspective in the reading of the images. In the specific conditions of avant-garde art of the late 60s, caught in the “endgame” of late modernism, during which avantgarde art simulated a closure on representation, it seemed to me that this combination of photographic and conceptual strategies was the most direct means to break out of this impasse and open up a new relation to social content. From the outset I understood “conceptual” photography in a crudely literal sense. I wanted my work to

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Intersection NYC V, 2003. 153 x 153 cm. Courtesy: Galería Tomás March

engage the world through a performative act that made conceptual understanding concrete. The singular choice of subject and the decisive click of the shutter followed by the representation of the image as a work of art was the means by which this primary event could play itself out. These photographic images were also necessarily fragments or abstractions taken from the “plenum” or “field of reality”, which was for me the infinity of the landscape of the city and its confusion of movements and the manifold perspectives, what I called at the time “technology nature”, or the constructed universe as contrasted to the infinity of the natural landscape. These images then could became

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ciphers or icons for moments abstracted from this plenum, and having thus been converted into autonomous referential signs for such experiences, could function as platforms for critical reflection on that reality. In this way I attempted to give the abstractive process of such conceptual photography an intellectual, expressive and political function. I still conceive of photographic representations of the world as abstractions in this sense. This didn’t necessarily make my work significant, interesting, entertaining or impressive to a large audience, especially since these images were usually of the most banal events of everyday life, like crossing the street, but for me these images established a sense of meaningful presence in the world not only for myself but also for others that appear in the images. The documentation of the tangible and recognizable immediacy of the objectivity of the world originated from a specific artistic intention and reflected a concept of existential choice. But its more compelling aspect was its sympathetic relation to the self-reflexive logic of modernist representation as an existential or phenomenological outlook. The “street” thus became an icon or a cipher for the space of modernist reality. My attraction to the theme of the street was metaphorical as well as specific. The street, or more precisely, the “stage” of the sidewalk on which the pedestrians are poised to cross, is both a metaphor for reality in general and the location of specific experiences of the modern city. The street became an extension of the working space of my studio, and the dynamics of the intersection a part of my artistic working material. But if the literal space of the asphalt monochrome rectangle of the urban intersection was the crossing point for my reflection on the dynamics of modern culture with its control systems of electronic signage traffic, etc., it was also


a reference point for theoretical, literary and artistic concerns. I was well aware of the contradictions arising between the abstraction of my ideas and the phenomena of reality in which they were embedded. Inspired by the ironic references to minimal art in the earlier work of Dan Graham in Homes for America and in NE Thing Co’s Piles catalogue, I intended the photographs of the painted rectangular boundaries of intersection crosswalks to make a subtle but specific reference to the blank rectangle of my earlier monochrome paintings. The ostensible subject was the rectangle of the intersection but the parallel subject was the dynamics of urbanity. In this way I was able to quietly “ground” my earlier attraction to the symbolic negation of the painted blank monochrome, which was both a rejection of the image and a “tabula rasa” for a reinvented meaning, so that the hermetic and introverted aspect of abstract art would be “hung out to dry” in the common space of the everyday. I understood it as the melancholic expression of an occluded social critique, in which the “meaninglessness” of these empty spaces suggested an expression of the meaninglessness of existence. But the vulnerability of this expressive, almost “symbolist” dimension could be slid underneath the protective cover of the factual and impassive specificity of the photograph and the self-evident presence of the everyday that is the overt experience of waiting to cross the street in heavy traffic. The referential power of photography preserved the connection between monochrome painting as a trope of modernity and the space of the everyday as a site of political and existential presence. Abstraction was grounded in the actual. In my later street images after 1980 I returned to monochrome painting as a literal ground or support for the photographic images of the street and thus emphasized the contradictions between these traditions of representation and anti-representation. My earlier work with the singular and uncomplicated

At the Newspaper Stand, 1990. 244 x 244 cm. Courtesy: Galería Tomás March

abstraction of the monochrome paintings seemed at odds with the complexity of this new photographic work. I attempted to give order to the chaos of my imagery through my earlier research into the abstraction of Piet Mondrian and what I understood as a “theory of limits” or the frame or limit which defines the identity of art as distinct from all else which surrounds it, and which both focuses and impedes its understanding. Contemporary art is involved in a constant dialectic between its autonomous identity, its otherness as art, and a need to merge with the milieu which surrounds it. Earlier movements in modernist abstract art claimed its power by virtue of this distinction but late modernist art consistently sought to blur the boundaries

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Intersection NYC VII, 2003. 229 x 153 cm. Courtesy: Galería Tomás March

between art and non-art. Sometimes it was successful, sometimes not. In the late 60s, still very committed to the autonomy of modernist art, I researched intensively the abstract paintings of Mondrian, and found in the unifying formal structure of the crossing or “intersections” of horizontal and vertical lines characteristic of his work parallels to the architectonics of the urban landscape with

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its horizontal traffic lines, the rectangular quadrant of the crosswalks, the verticality of buildings, poles and people, etc. Spatial composition in the limits of the tableau and spatial limits of the urban landscape were brought together in the dynamics of the quadrant of the downtown street intersection where people met traffic regulated by signage. I thought of the iconography of the city, the rationally ordered perspective of the streets and the orchestration of movement of people and traffic by electronic signals as a complex of “limits” that organized the randomness of reality much as the frame of a work of art separates and makes effectively distinct the expressive statement from the field in which it operates. It was also my observation that the macroeconomic system of capitalist property relations which has shaped the North American urban environment in its entirety was an intrinsic part of this system of limits and that a critical reflection on these limits could be achieved through the photographic image. As a crossing point of an infinite variety of arbitrary movements permanently fixed into a unified image by the instantaneity of the photographic snapshot, the intersection images were like a real-time analogue to the collage. Collage introduced into art the allegorical fragments of material life, of images, of marginalized and miniaturized objects torn from the fabric of the everyday and recast as the “readymade” in the work of art. Collage practice mirrored the alienation of the commodity form and converted it into expressive ciphers for modernity. When Marcel Duchamp invented what he called the “readymade” in 1913 he placed an everyday object purchased from a department store on a pedestal and called it art. Because of its ability to shock and yet function as a work of art with critical, ironic and allegorical effectiveness, the readymade has subsequently become one of the most pervasive techniques of modern art. Now photography has become the ubiquitous technique for the appropriation of images of the world into the language of art and in effect has opened up the world as a “readymade”. As such, photoconceptual art expands the concept of the readymade from the realm of the object to the realm of the image. When the photographer hunts through the streets for images, the city becomes an open archive for the allegorical sensibility. The photographic appropriation of the phenomena of urbanity thus transforms the literary/philosophical concept of the flâneur, or


wanderer in the city, into an artistic performance. In my later series of works beginning in 1986, titled My Heroes in the Streets, I made specific references to the individuals in the crosswalks; friends that I had asked to play the part, as contemporary counterparts of Baudelaire’s “heroes of modern life”. The city and the street then became a backdrop for an allegorical narrative of existential presence. Baudelaire’s “forest of symbols” has been converted into urban signage that evokes poetic allegories of alienation and redemption which mirror the desires of the contemporary flaneur who sees the world as something other than what it is, ultimately as a “work of art”, in the guise of seeing it as the everyday, and who subverts the new world of industrial capitalism by converting it into figments of the romantic imagination. What began in the late 1960s as an objective and phenomenological photographic mirroring of the city as the “field of reality” in general, has turned into a more animated scripting of social existence, now more monumental as images, and equally importantly, engaged in a continuing dialectical and critical relationship with modernism and abstract painting. •

Intersection NYC I, 2003. 122 x 122 cm. Courtesy: Ian Wallace

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CIBERCONTEXTO In accordance with this issue’s content, we’ll provide some hints about a number of web pages in which we have located, above all, opinion forums, spaces for theoretical debate on net.art, and, of course, the voice of some artists devoted to this practice. We have reviewed those pages organized by artistic collectives that, given their quality as art- supporting platforms, give other

artists the chance to express themselves by broadcasting their ideas or exhibiting their work. Likewise, we have reviewed some web sites carried out from a critical and theoretical view which nevertheless permit those people involved in artistic production to convey their ideas, as well as web sites where information about residences, grants, resources, etc. is provided.

Natalia Maya Santacruz

A Professional, Historical Site www.rhizome.org Founded in 1996, rhizome stands out among this kind of web site, not only because it’s one of the oldest, but also since it’s one of the most inclusive, as its programs and services are devoted both to support creation and to exhibit and discuss contemporary art, assisting those who significantly use new technologies in their work. It also deals with general issues such as global communication. Consequently, we find interesting critical texts, forums and the possibility to submit works and projects. International digital scene professionals such as designers, programmers, students and teachers are among this site’s militants. This website is sponsored and supported by important institutions ranging from International Amnesty to the Andy Warhol Foundation.

An Open Collective www.jstk.org

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Joystick is, above all, an artistic collective established in Barcelona that has been working on public space using an urban language as their communication channel. They put effort into promoting and encouraging multidisciplinary activities, and the Internet is one of their fundamental tools. On this website, one is grateful to see how neat and tidy the information is organized, owing to a clean, simple design. Their openness is quite remarkable, since every month they offer different artists a space in this web. The page is divided in six sections in which information about this collective’s projects and activities is provided, as well as works exclusively carried out for the web and interesting texts about culture, society and artistic practices that make a contribution to the debate on current art.


www.art.net.dortmund.de This interesting gate is a platform for on-line artists whose work is exclusively focused in the use of digital resources. Set up as a work in progress, it aims to support creation and development of net.art projects from their very beginning and initial phases. It has been developed by the Stästische Dortmund-Agentur in cooperation with several Dortmund cultural managers such as Hartware Medien Kunstverein, and Daniel García Andújar. It is divided in three attractive zones: Periphery, devoted to theoretical discussion on art and new technologies; Work Box, a Data Base and an interesting open forum on issues concerning web technology; and Konkret, an exhibition space for individual or collective works.

Net.art Museum http://art.colorado.edu/hiaff/NT_VS_ Main.htm Once we go into Histories of Internet Art: Fiction and Factions, we find a stimulating space, especially for those who are just being initiated into net.art. This is a sort of on-line museum that gathers information about the history of art on the Internet. It has been created by the Fine Arts Department of the University of Colorado, supported by Alt-x Online Network and the Digital Blurr Information Center. Works by emerging artists and interviews with professionals –both technical and creative- from the digital field can be found here.

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http://www.whitney.org/artport/ New York’s Whitney Museum has consolidated this web as its main contribution to multimedia creation and net.art. We could say it is divided in four interesting areas, among which are found: GATE PAGE, a monthly space that permits different artists to show their most recent works as a gate; COMMISSIONS, which presents projects curated in the Whitney; EXHIBITION provides information on net.art exhibitions and all about digital issues in the Whitney; finally, RESOURCES is an interesting data base of web resources for net-artists and information on festivals and recent publications.

An Award and a New Project from Japan www.netarts.org Since 1995 the Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts was concerned with supporting artistic production on the Internet with its project Art on the Net, encouraging the use of the Internet as an artistic resource in a time when it wasn’t as accepted as it is today. With the years, and as a proof of their labor’s success, they have launched netarts.org, which is a clear stake for those artists who have contributed to this project with their earlier works, and which is not only an exhibition of achievements but also includes art essays, theoretical articles and an online forum. It will be on from November 2004 and a selection of works will be awarded with the 2004 netarts.org prize.

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www.e-barcelona.org www.e-valencia.org More politically focused, and convinced about the use of the Internet as a tool for divulgation of ideas, these two sites –supported by artists’ associations and collectives for cultural management- are focused on artistic and cultural policies in the regions of Valencia and Catalonia, which doesn’t impede them from publishing information about international cultural news, as they are as concerned with gathering opinions from managers and creators as they are from art-consumers.

www.interaccess.org/is.php This is the official website of INTERACCESS Electronic Media Arts Centre. This Toronto-based institution has been working for years in order to generate an encounter between artists and general audiences, aiming to explore intersections between art and technology. Its philosophy comprises networking, interactivity and communication, which has turned it into a reference for artistic community on the internet. That’s why one can find here multidisciplinary information, since they give housing to expressions coming from other fields in which digital culture is used as a tool and a strategy. Resources provided by Interaccess are available here, as well as labs, general agenda and a program of conferences. CIBERCONTEXTO / ARTECONTEXTO / 99


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ARTECONTEXTO Nº4. Dossier: THE ARTISTS' VOICE