More than mere jelly

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This publication accompanies the exhibition More than mere jelly curated by Amelia Wallin at the Hessel Museum of Art, on view from April 8 to May 27, 2018, as part of the requirements for the Masters of Arts degree at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson. The exhibition features artwork by Frances Barrett, Tom Burr, Nina Canell, Alex Martinis Roe & Rosemarie Trockel. ( Author ) Amelia Wallin ( Editor ) Jeannine Tang ( Copyediting ) Sabrina Maltese Andrew Hibbard Mitchel Cumming ( Designer ) Maria Smit ( Printer ) Patrick Kiley Publication Studio Hudson, New York The exhibition and publication was made possible with support from Marcia Acita / Christopher Aque / Justin Balmain / Amanda Bard / Bronwen Bitetti / Andrew Blackley / Ann Butler / Lauren Cornell / Tom Eccles / Mark DeLura / Lia Gangitano / Chandler Hubbard / Jenny Jaskey / Alena Katsoff / Alex Kitnick / Amy Linker / CJ Matherne / Paul O’Neill / Jeannine Tang / Evan Calder Williams / Sprßth Magers / Barbara Wien / Bortolami Gallery / the students, faculty, and administration of CCS Bard.

( ISBN )


More than mere jelly

Frances Barrett, Tom Burr, Nina Canell, Alex Martinis Roe & Rosemarie Trockel Curated by Amelia Wallin Hessel Museum of Art April 8 – May 27, 2018

( Front cover ) Colophon ( 3 ) Contents ( 5 ) More than mere jelly Amelia Wallin ( 16 ) Appendix; A Box for Vertical Relations Alex Martinis Roe ( Back cover ) Checklist


( 1 ) Laura Marks, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses, Durham: Duke University Press, 2000. ( 2 ) “ T he second shift” was coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild in her book of the same name. See The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home, London: Judy Piatkus, 1989. In another book, The Managed Heart, Hochschild is credited with coining the phrase “emotional labor” as a means to quantify those imperceptible yet significant tasks so often demanded of women and low-income workers (also described by her as “pink collar workers”) to resolve interpersonal problems. This complex form of labor is rarely valued or even recognized. See Arlie Hochschild, The Managed Heart: Commercialization Of Human Feeling, Berkeley: University Of California Press, 2012. ( 3 ) Phyllis Moen, Working Parents, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989. ( 4 ) Even in our post-Fordist moment where flexibility and around-the-clock availability is demanded of the contemporary worker, we are deceived into thinking that work “ends” and that what happens at home is surplus. ( 5 ) Silvia Federici, in the 1975 Wages Against Housework treatise, writes: “the wage, rather than paying for the work you do, hides all the unpaid work that goes into profit. But the wage at least recognises that you are a worker, and you can bargain and struggle around and against the terms and the quantity of that wage, the terms and the quantity of that work. To have a wage means to be part of a social contract, and there is no doubt concerning its meaning: you work, not because you like it, or because it comes naturally to you, but because it is the only condition under which you are allowed to live.” Wages Against Housework, London: Power Of Women Collective, 1975. ( 6 ) Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Vol 1, London: Dent, 1962.


More than mere jelly

“If every object and event is irreducible in its materiality, then part of learning to touch it is to come to love its particularity, its strangeness, its precious and inimitable place in the world.” ( 1 ) The term “the second shift” refers to the labors of care, recuperation, and sustenance that occur after the close of a waged working day. The phrase refers to the work we all do and receive—to varying degrees, for ourselves and others—in order to keep on working. ( 2 ) It is also called the “double burden.”( 3 ) When my eyes first tracked this phrase on my computer screen I read it as “burden burden,” a blunt expression of the incessant labor of care. Hours of work continuously leak beyond their assigned container of eight, nine, ten hours. This leakage can be attributed to the fracture that underscores our current experiences of work. We labor under the illusion that work is contained within a shift, and that the hours within this shift equate to a wage, when such equivalences of value are never fully commensurable. ( 4 ) The wage, with its promise of equal and adequate remuneration, obfuscates society’s reliance on unpaid labor. As Karl Marx argued, unpaid labor is a structural necessity of capitalism, upon which all cycles of value and profit depend. Feminist scholars call this care work, or social reproduction, and have observed how the gendering of this work reproduces inequitable social relations under capitalism. ( 5 ) The concept of “abstract value-exchange” names the process by which commodities accrue value through the incorporation of living human labor, as the activating ingredient that makes commodities profitable. Abstraction makes labor and product indistinguishable, and therefore able to be infinitely exchanged. Marx refers to the remnants of this process of abstraction as “mere jelly” in Das Kapital. ( 6 ) This so-called “jelly” is the congealed material birthed from the irreversible incorporation of time and labor. The material and visceral jelly serves to mark “all commodities with the

( 7 ) Thomas Keenan. “The Point is to (Ex) Change It: Reading ‘Capital’ Rhetorically.” Fables of Responsibility. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2007. ( 8 ) Ibid. ( 9 ) Celine Condorelli writes on the productive labor of friendship as both a desirable set-up for working and as a dimension of production in her book The Company She Keeps, London: Book Works, 2014.


trace of resemblance.”( 7 ) The jelly is a trace of itself that attests to a former process of abstraction which left it behind. ( 8 ) This exhibition looks to the jelly, that “ineffaceable excess” which precedes and exceeds the assembled works of art by Frances Barrett, Nina Canell, and Alex Martinis Roe. The artworks respond to a multitude of ever-changing conditions, from the museological protocols that determined their display, to the durational pressures of gravity, and the affects that move between them. These works of art intervene within the soft infrastructures of collections, archives, negotiation, pedagogy, and friendship: those relations of care that constitute so much of the affective labor of artistic production. ( 9 ) When seen through the translucent sheen of the jelly, they collapse and run together like dye. For this exhibition, Frances Barrett ( born in created a new video work that records her encounter with artworks from the Marieluise Hessel Collection at the Hessel Museum of Art. Handle ( 2018 ) begins with the proposition of touching artworks within the museum’s collection, and navigates the layers of institutional negotiation required to document the feeling, moving, handling, and fondling of a selection of artworks. The video follows the passage of Barrett, the install team, museum director, registrar, and curator through the strata of the museum, moving from the storage facilities to arrive at the exhibition space characterized by its white painted walls, concrete floors, and finite configurations of moveable walls. 1983, Australia )

Conservators and curators alike remind us that touching an art object is what ultimately leads to its destruction. The moisture and chemicals inherent to our skin accelerate the material degradation of artworks. There is a perversity of care, then, in Barrett’s touch. As an artist who works with performance and endurance, Barrett has previously positioned curators and collaborators as complicit in her care to question her artistic agency and interdependence within the structures and condi-

( 10 ) In A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia , translated by Brian Massumi, London: Bloomsbury, 2015, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari write of “smooth space” — an environment like sand or snow that must be navigated tactically, and haptically, and moved through with constant awareness of the immediate surroundings. For Deleuze and Guattari, smooth space provokes a sensual or tactical response. In Handle , the contemporary museum is a similarly smooth space, encountered haptically by the artists and the team of installers. Their careful touch indicates the value ascribed to these art objects and their associated materials. ( 11 ) Email correspondence with the author, October 2017. ( 12 ) Kathy Dillion was a poet and artist, and was Acconci’s partner at the time of this performance.


tions of art. She has explored the boundaries of submission by taking sleeping pills in a public gallery, competed in a wrestling match with a curator for her artist fee, been a BDSM submissive in a public space, and crawled on her hands and knees for twelve hours. Making her body vulnerable to the determinations of external forces, Barrett’s performances of endurance echo previous works of performance art, particularly those early tests of culpability and bodily limits by artists such as Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic. In Handle, it is the endurance of objects, rather than the body, that is tested. Artist and curator arrived at a selection of four works to be touched: Tom Burr’s Black Railing for Thomas ( 2009 ), Rosemarie Trockel’s Menopause ( 2005 ), Vito Acconci’s Pryings ( 1971 ), and Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” ( 1992 ). As witnessesto the intimate procedures of unwrapping and installing these works of art, Handle illuminates the exhibition in its processes of becoming. ( 10 ) The video focuses on those who care for objects, foregrounding the tasks of museological maintenance performed by the staff. The video also shows Barrett circumambulating the final display of the exhibition, touching each work with her bare hands. Her performative touch disrupts existing prac tices of handling art that are based on the preservation and sanctification of objects. The contrast of these two different effects of touch “elevates the performativity inherent to the roles of artist, curator and institution.”( 11 ) Vito Acconci’s ( 1940-2017, United States ) video work Pryings captures the artist’s aggressive attempts to pry open the closed eyes and mouth of poet and artist Kathy Dillon. ( 12 ) Pryings was projected—and touched by Barrett—during the installation period before being returned to storage, the work viewable only in the documentation of Handle. Also absent in the final exhibition is “Untitled” by Felix Gonzalez-Torres ( 1957-1996, Cuba / United States ). “Untitled” is a black-and-white photograph of a hand, marked with pencil along the lines of the palm believed by chiromancers to be the lifeline. The two gold hooks upon which

( 13 ) Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” is display- ed in the exhibition So long ago it feels like a memory of someone else , curated by Andrew Hibbard, at the Hessel Museum, April 8 to May 27, 2018. ( 14 ) T homas in a Box (1986), Thomas in a Circle (1987), Thomas (1986), Thomas and Woman In Hat (1986), and Chest (1986) are six of Mapplethorpe’s photographs of Thomas that are held within the Marieluise Hessel collection . ( 15 ) Tom Burr, ‘Thoughts on a given name’, Rachel Harrison: Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, ed. Tom Eccles, Annandaleon-Hudson, Center for Curatorial Studies, 2009.


it hung during the production of Barrett’s Handle remain in the exhibition space as testimony to its former placement, evoking its ghostly presence. ( 13 ) Rosemarie Trockel ( born in 1952, West Germany ) is renowned for her large scale knitted paintings. Trockel’s Menopause ( 2005 ), is one of a small collection of works from this series that are hand-knitted rather than industriallyproduced. Monochromatic and oversized in scale, Menopause is a framed expanse of mauve wool, turned inside out and supported by canvas stretched over a wooden frame. The stitches produced by the skilled hands of the knitter are irregular and inconsistent, recalling the handmade tactility of their production. Wool carries the connotations of feminized care in its fibers, however Menopause references the color field paintings of high modernism, and in doing so produces abstract painting through a process often perceived as craft or women’s work. The cessation of ovulation referred to as ‘menopause’ lends this artwork its title. Trockel references a further dimension of feminized productivity (and its lack): that of fertility and reproductive capacity. In Tom Burr’s ( born in 1963, United States ) sculpture Black Railings for Thomas, three freestanding balustrades occupy the floor of the gallery. A throw of black felt is draped over one, and a postcard is pinned to another. Reflective black plexiglass cut into rectangular and circular shapes puddle the surrounding floor or lean against each other. The railings evoke support, function, confinement, and decoration all at once. This work was created, and originally exhibited, in dialogue with a series of iconic black-and-white portraits taken by Robert Mapplethorpe of a sitter known as Thomas. ( 14 ) Burr recalls, “I discovered Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs through postcards that were stacked in racks in all the shops up and down Commercial Street, and I would buy the early flower and penis imagery in equal measure.”( 15 ) For art historian George Baker, Burr’s work offers a camp approach to minimalism: “Camp removes Minimalism from its dominant place in the canon,

( 16 ) George Baker, ‘The Other Side of the Wall,’ October 120, Spring, 2007. ( 17 ) Alan Ruiz, ‘Tom Burr by Alan Ruiz’, Bomb, 2015 tom-burr accessed March 10 2018. ( 18 ) In her introduction to the volume of writing on art and motherhood, The Mother Reader, Moyra Davey speaks of the treasure hunt like experience of discovering sources in the footnotes, citations, and introductions of texts. She writes: “what emerges is a sense of a community of writers speaking to and about each other and an assumed lineage of authors and texts”. Moyra Davey, ‘Introduction’, The Mother Reader, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2001.


or in our culture, and links it instead to subcultural authors, mass cultural characters, illicit desires and interdictions.”( 16 ) Burr revises the legacies of minimalism and conceptualism with biographical and autobiographical elements. In his words, “I’m continually retracting from and returning to the moment when certain hard forms or movements or gestures or attitudes become ‘soft.’” ( 17 ) Nina Canell ( born in 1977, Sweden ) is invested in surplus and the invisible, from the subterranean web of cables that support our digital existence, to the invisible forces of electricity and time that structure our lives. More than mere jelly displays two of Canell’s gum shelves, which are cast from a substance derived from pistachio nuts, via the same process for making cotton candy. Originally the same size and volume, the gum shelves droop and sag over the course of their display, their shape and form visually diverging even as their material constitution essentially remains the same. This gum retains its associations with food, even though its pale peach flesh color is an artificial addition. The work is brittle to touch, like toffee. An audience member at The Artist’s Institute, where these works were first cast and displayed, asked what would happen if he were to sit on them. The allure of this work is strong and evokes an embodied response, which is gratuitously granted when Barrett touches them in Handle. Books, writing, and the paraphernalia of administration feature throughout the practice of Alex Martinis Roe ( born in 1982, Australia ). In her artworks, she offers text in the same way a friend or influential teacher offers a reading list, bringing the viewer onto the same page. ( 18 ) For More than mere jelly, in the work A Box for Vertical Relations ( 2012 - ongoing ), Martinis Roe presents a stack of twenty-four books on temporary loan from the libraries at the Center for Curatorial Studies and Stevenson Library, Bard College. The books are arranged according to textual and interpersonal relationships that exist between the female-identified authors. Martinis Roe situates her work in “the genealogy of [ her ] own feminist formation –

( 19 ) AQNB. “‘Solidarity-In-Difference’ and the Politics of Transgenerational Feminism: A Conversation with Alex Martinis Roe.” AQNB, May 8, 2017. URL: http:// accessed October 13 2017. ( 20 ) A steady-state economy recognizes that growth cannot be used boundlessly without devastating consequences. As Daly writes, “production and consumption are in no way circular. They are based on a linear throughput beginning with depletion and ending with pollution.” Herman Daly, A Steady State, New York: Pocket Institute, 2016.


the ideas, books, and people who have shaped [ her ] knowledge and methods”. ( 19 ) The books follow a relational method of categorization, distinct from the Library of Congress classification system typically favored by academic institutions, or the Dewey Decimal System. Martinis Roe’s work is multidirectional, extending from the gallery into the adjacent Center for Curatorial Studies Library, where the absence of the loaned books are placemarked with a form tucked into the library shelves. In this work, Martinis Roe explores the effects of interpersonal and inter-relational knowledge by way of how documents, records, and people come into contact with each other and generate new relations.

More than mere jelly looks to the institution, and the surplus and subterranean labor contained within it. Into this amorphous terrain of abstracted work and immaterial labor, of leaky time and sticky hours, the enduring refrain “the labor of love” is used to mop up all those unremunerated hours. The artworks respond to the conditions of their presentation, drawing their resources from inside the museum, and library, and borrowing from other institutions. In this way, nothing accumulates or depletes, and a steady state is maintained. ( 20 ) he color of Trockel’s Menopause lends itT self to the pages of this publication. Mauve is chromatically inconsistent. Discovered by accident by a teenage chemist, it is the first fully synthetic color. What we have come to call mauve is actually a residue: the result of dye that wouldn’t stick. Originally a saturated, deep purple hue, the contemporary conception of mauve is the capture of a color as it recedes. That which remains, recedes and resides can be seen throughout this exhibition and these pages, as evidence of the labor that continues unseen. Without due recognition of this labor, we understand only a pallid version of our current conditions.

( Appendix )

Alex Martinis Roe A Box for Vertical Relations 2012 - ongoing


( 1 ) Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights PR4172 .W82 1978 ( 2 ) Elizabeth Barrett Browning Elizabeth Barrett to Miss Mitford PR4193 .A374 1954

Barrett Browning and Brontë were contemporaries; Barrett Browning was known to complain of the lack of female poets until Brontë was published.

( 3 ) Emily Dickinson The complete poems of Emily Dickinson PS1541 .A1 1924,

Dickinson mainly read the work of women authors including the work of Brontë and Barrett Browning.

( 4 ) Adriana Cavarero For More Than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression P95 .C38613

Cavarero was part of the Diotima philosophy group in Verona and Dickinson has been a key reference for that group.

( 5 ) Luce Irigaray Speculum HQ1154 .I7413 1986

Cavarero’s feminist rereading of Plato was inspired by Irigarary’s philosophy.

( 6 ) Rosi Braidotti Nomadic Subjects : Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory HQ1190 .B74 1994

Braidotti’s nomadic theory draws significantly on Irigaray’s philosophy, more than any other female thinker, especially in her work on generations.

( 7 ) Alice Jardine Gynesis HQ1206 .J37 1985

Jardine and Braidotti are friends and both attended Paris VIII University in the 1980s during which time a generation of feminist theorists was formed in Paris.

( 8 ) Simone de Beauvoir Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter PQ2603.E362 Z523 1974

Jardine interviewed de Beauvoir in 1979.

( 9 ) Julia Kristeva Powers of horror: an Essay on Abjection PQ2607.E834 Z73413 1982

Jardine translated Kristeva’s article Women’s Time.

( 10 ) Elizabeth Grosz Sexy Bodies the Strange Carnalities of Feminism HQ16 .S49 1995

Grosz edited Sexual Subversions which focused on the work of three French feminists one of them being Kristeva.

( 11 ) Genevieve Lloyd Part of nature: Self-Knowledge in Spinoza’s Ethics B3974 .L56 1994

Lloyd and Grosz are both key figures in the network and field of Australian corporeal feminism.

( 12 ) Mary Wollstonecraft A short residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark PR5841.W8 Z475

Lloyd wrote about Wollstonecraft.

( 13 ) Mary Shelley Frankenstein PR5397 .F7 2012

Shelly was Wollstonecraft’s daughter.

( 14 ) Moyra Davey Burn The Diaries TR647 .D382 2014

Davey writes of the familial relations of the Wollstonecraft family in Les Goddesses.

( 15 ) Mary Kelly Post-Partum Document N6537.K42 A72 1999

Davey cites Kelly’s PostPartum Document as a major influence on her book The Mother Reader.

( 16 ) Lucy Lippard Six Years N6494.C63 L56

Lippard wrote the introduction to Kelly’s Post-Partum Document.

( 17 ) Kathy Acker The adult life of Toulouse Lautrec PS3551.C25 A49

Acker published with Printed Matter books, an imprint founded by Lucy Lippard and Sol LeWitt.

( 18 ) Avital Ronell Stupidity PN56.S737 R66 2002

Acker and Ronell had a very close personal relationship.

( 19 ) Judith Butler Giving an Account of Oneself BD450 .B895 2005

Acker, Ronell and Butler were colleagues – they have done talks together and published chapters in the same books.

( 20 ) Hannah Arendt Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought D16.8 A652

Acker, Ronell and Butler have each written about Arendt.

( 21 ) Milan Women’s Bookstore Collective Sexual difference: a theory of socialsymbolic practice HQ1638 .N6613 1990

Arendt’s text “What is Authority?” is a key text for the Milan Women’s Bookstore Collective.

( 22 ) Vita Sackville-West The letters of Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf PR6037.A35 Z497

The relationship between Sackville-West and Woolf is one of the key source-histories that the Milan Women’s Bookstore Collective use to describe a relationship of affidamento (entrustment).

( 23 ) Virginia Woolf Orlando PR6045.O72 O7 1973 ( 24 ) Marguerite Yourcenar The Abyss PQ2649 .O8

The character Orlando was inspired by Sackville-West. Yourcenar translated Woolf’s The Waves into French.

( Checklist ) Alex Martinis Roe, A Box for Vertical Relations, 2012–ongoing. Acrylic glass, 24 borrowed library books. 16.3 x 14.1 x 18.1 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Nina Canell, Gum Shelf, 2017. Mastic gum and steel, each 7 3/4 x 9 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin. Rosemarie Trockel, Menopause, 2005. Wool, 116 1/2 x 116 1/2 inches. Marieluise Hessel Collection, Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Tom Burr, Black Railing for Thomas, 2009. Wood, black paint, Plexiglas, postcard, binder clip, and fabric. Marieluise Hessel Collection, Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Vito Acconci, Pryings, 1971. Video, 17:10. Marieluise Hessel Collection, Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-onHudson, New York. Frances Barrett, Handle, 2018. HD Single channel Video, 11.58. Cinematography and Editing: Justin Balmain. Music and Sound Mastering: Andrew McLellan. With Amelia Wallin, Marcia Actica, Mark DeLura, CJ Matherne, Chandler Hubbard, Amy Linker, and staff of the Hessel Museum of Art. Featuring the work of Vito Acconci (with Kathy Dillon), Tom Burr, Nina Canell, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Alex Martinis Roe, and Rosemarie Trockel.

More than mere jelly