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After Po-Mo and Before We Agree

art talk by M.T. Karthik

Auroville, India 2007

Begin with the piece on The End of Post-Modernism, October 1999. (pause)

But I thik that Giulianis comment, as ignorant and political as it may have been, is indicative of the feeling at the end of the 20th century. Arthur Danto had written The Death of Art in 1994, the century was limping to an end.

*******K Foundation

On 23 August 1994, the K Foundation (Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty) burnt one million pounds sterling in cash on the Scottish island of Jura. This money represented the bulk of the K Foundation’s funds, earned by Drummond and Cauty as The KLF, one of the United Kingdom‘s most successful pop groups of the early 1990s. The duo have never fully explained their motivations for the burning.

The incineration was recorded on a Hi-8 video camera by K Foundation collaborator Gimpo. In August 1995, the film—Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid[1]—was toured around the British Isles, with Drummond and Cauty engaging each audience in debate about the burning and its meaning. In November 1995, the duo pledged to dissolve the K Foundation and to refrain from public discussion of the burning for a period of 23 years.

A book—K Foundation Burn A Million Quid, edited and compiled by collaborator Chris Brook —was published by ellipsis Books in 1997, compiling stills from the film, accounts of events and viewer reactions. The book also contains an image of a single house brick that was manufactured from the fire’s ashes.

last year I was with Matthew Higgs

Matthew Higgs is director of White Columns in New York. He is also associate director of exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, England. He has organized more than forty exhibitions, including To Whom It May Concern and Reality Check: Painting in the Exploded Field at the CCA Wattis Institute. A regular contributor to Artforum, Higgs has written for many catalogs and other publications. As an artist, he is represented by Murray Guy in New York and Anthony Wilkinson Gallery in London.

But I think that the socio-political scene drove arts to find new ways to seek new materials and do things that Rudolph Giuliani could do but which are still art. and to communicate ideas through mass media.

I am going to talk about a few different places and people I have met and known in San Francisco, New York, Japan. India and elsewhere and let you see some work here and get an idea of what is being made and by whom.

It is interesting to me that the Venice Bienale opened today is it and I didn’t go to the site to see who is in it or whatever. I wanted to try to construct this talk from – as Auroson suggested – my own experiences of art and artists.

Vik Muniz (Brazil, 1961) is an avant-garde artist who experiments with novel media. For example, he made two detailed replicas of Leonardo da Vinci‘s Mona Lisa: one out of jelly and the other out of peanut butter. He has also worked in sugar, wire, thread, and Bosco Chocolate Syrup, out of which he produced a recreation of Leonardo’s Last Supper. Many of Muniz’s works are new approaches to older pieces; he has reinterpreted a number of Monet‘s paintings, including paintings of the cathedral at Rouen, which Muniz accomplished using small clumps of pignment sprinkled onto a flat surface.

Vik Muniz’s use of materials is more than a result of aesthetic decisions alone. In his picture of Sigmund Freud, for example, he uses chococlate to render the image. The photograph is printed in such high resolution that one can almost taste the material from which the image is made. In this sense, Muniz is refering to Freud’s theory of the oral stage. Likewise, because of the chocolate’s viscosity and visual similarity to excrement there is an allusion to Freud’s anal stage as well. This conceptual framing of matter is also apparent in his Sugar Children series. In this body of work, Muniz went to a sugar plantation in Brazil to photograph children of laborers who work there. He made the images from the sugar at the plantation. The differential in value between the wages of the laborers, and the fluctuating cost of sugar in the international market as well the price for the photograph, reveal much about geopoltics, global/local economics, and the art world.

Vik Muniz works with the syntax of photography, hut his images are not simply photographic. As Vince Aletti pointed out in the Village Voice, “[Muniz] has teased the medium mercilessly and with an infectious glee. He makes pictures of pictures — sly, punning documents that subvert photography by forcing it to record not the natural world but a fiction, a simulation.” (left: Action Photo (After Hans Namuth), 1997, 60 x 48 inches, Collection of Eileen and Peter Norton, Los Angeles)

Born in 1961, Muniz grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil where he studied advertising, a field which he acknowledges,”made me aware of the dichotomy between an object and its images.” After he moved to New York in 1983, Muniz made sculptures which he documented in photographs, then began incorporating photographs in his sculptural installations. He discovered that what interested him most was the representation of objects rather than the objects themselves, the dislocation between expectation and fact, representation and reality.

Muniz’s pictures are illusions that draw from the language of visual culture, but they twist and redefine our perception of both the commonplace and the fantastical. His images humorously, as well as critically challenge our ability to discern fact from fiction, reality from appearance. Utilizing a range of unorthodox materials — granulated sugar, chocolate syrup, tomato sauce, thread, wire, cotton, soil — Muniz first creates an image, sculpturally manipulates it, then photographs it. Whether a portrait, landscape, still life, or iconic image from history, Muniz’s works are never what they seem.

More recently he has been creating larger-scale works, such as pictures carved into the earth (geoglyphs) or made of huge piles of junk. His sense of humor comes through in his “Pictures of Clouds” series, in which he had a skywriter draw cartoon outlines of clouds in the sky.


Surasi Kusolwong

born in 1965 in Ayutthaya, Thailand. In 1987 he received his BFA from Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, and in 1993 he received his MFA from Hochshule für Bildender Künst, Braunshweig, Germany. Kusolwong’s artistic practice includes installation and performance-based work and, since 1996, he has concocted variations on market settings where inexpensive, mass-produced, Thai-manufactured goods are sold for a nominal fee.

The artist has shown widely in Europe, America, Asia, and Australia. Solo exhibitions include Institute of Visual Arts (INOVA), Milwaukee, WI; Arte all’Arte (Arte Continua project), Casole d’Elsa, Italy; Fri-Art Centre D’Art Contemporain Kunsthalle, Fribourg, and Art & Public Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland. Group exhibitions include P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY; Hayward Gallery, London, England; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; Academia de Francia/Villa Médicis, Rome, Italy; 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan; Pusan Metropolitan Museum of Art, Samsung Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea; Edsvik Art & Culture Center, Sollentuna, Sweden. Kusolwong has exhibited in many biennales including the 2001 Berlin Biennale, Germany; Transfert, 2001 Swiss Sculpture Exhibition, Biel, Switzerland; Kwangju Biennale 2000, Korea; Taipei Biennale 2000, Taiwan; Third Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, 11th Biennale of Sydney, Australia; and the 1997 Vienna Secession, Austria

Lu Jie was born in Fujian, China in 1964. He holds a BFA from the China Academy of Arts in Hangzhou and an MA from the Creative Curating Program in Goldsmiths College, University of London. Lu Jie has curated numerous contemporary art exhibitions internationally including the Chinese presentation at the 2005 Prague Biennale and the 2005 Yokohama Triennale. He is the founder of the Long March Foundation in New York, and the 25000 Cultural Transmission Center in Beijing. Over the past six years, Lu Jie has been concentrating his efforts to produce The Long March – a Walking Visual Display which was exhibited in National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon, 2004 Shanghai Biennale, 2004 Taipei Biennale and will be exhibited in 2005 Yokohama Triennale, Vancouver Art Gallery and the next Asia Pacific Triennale.

Long March Capital – Visual Economies of TransMedia

Initiated in 1999, carried out on the historical Long March route in 2002, and returning to Beijing from where we are still marching locally and internationally today, the Long March is a multifaceted and complex art project in which the journeys through the realities of different social locations, contexts, and dimensions are part of a process of artistic experience and creation. The Long March’s approach to new media, therefore, extends beyond the faculties of technology, rather looking at the metaphor of the Long March as a medium and methodology in which creative expression can arise. In this regard, the Long March acts not only as an art project but as a “transmediator,” a form of capital which offers a platform, context, and professional service for the realization and display of new media works, as well as a “glocalely” situated “social” as a new media. Participants work together, turning local resources into the international language of contemporary art, and conversely imbuing international art with a local context and significance. As such, the Long March journey becomes a collective knowledge production and performance where both audiences and artists alike become participant observers constantly negotiating the boundaries and relationships of the various visual economies bounded within artistic production.

Lu Jie is the founder and director of the Long March Foundation, New York and the 25,000 Cultural Transmission Center, Beijing. Over the past six years, Lu Jie has been concentrating his efforts to produce the Long March Project, portions of which have been exhibited internationally including in the 2004 Shanghai Biennale, the 2004 Taipei Biennale, at the Vancouver Art Gallery 2005 and The Yokohama Triennale 2005 and Sao Paulo Biennale in 2006.

The Long March Project: : Lu Jie in Conversation with Hsingyuan Tsao and Shengtian Zheng

On the evening of October 12, 2005 the Vancouver Art Gallery presented “Dialogues on Art: Lu Jie in Conversation with Shengtian Zheng and Hsingyuan Tsao.” The presentation was organized in conjunction with the exhibition Classified Materials: Accumulations, Archives, Artists.

Lu Jie: The Long March Project was initiated in 1999 when I was a curatorial studies student at London University. During that time I developed a critique of the representation of politics in the context of international Chinese art exhibitions. I was thinking about the ways that contemporary art practice could connect with social development and social change. I developed the Long March Project as an organic structure that could parallel the grand narrative of the historical Long March initiated by Mao Zedong. I developed the idea that a number of sites could be created according to this historical Long March—this search for utopia, this sharing of resources, this going beyond the limits of body and ideology.

After several years of preparation, the Long March Foundation was established in New York in 2000. I spent two years visiting the six thousand miles historical Long March route. In 2002, we established the 25,000 Cultural Transmission Center in Beijing before launching the project that summer. After a three-month journey, twelve of the twenty planned sites were completed. We already had the contribution of two-hundred-and-fifty local and international artists. People thought that the government would stop us, but there were no political problems.

In the Yanchuan papercutting survey—which we believe is a milestone of the whole Long March up until today—we asked questions such as: what do we do with the so-called folk artists who live in China, whose life and profession is all based on an aesthetic that we do not value? This work is something that other curators and institutions do not deal with. But for the Long March Project—a project that wants to face reality—the different social hierarchies and historical frameworks all connect together to create a new understanding of contemporary Chinese art. So we believed from the very beginning that folk art, such as paper-cutting, is something that should be re-examined.

what’s next?

list and

culture jamming

media pluralism

regionality