One place after another : Ch 2

One place after another : Ch 2

Mobilization of Site Specificity

In the recent past, however, as the cultural and market values of such works from the 1960s and 1970s have risen, many of the early precedents in site-specific art, once deemed difficult to collect and impossible to reproduce, have reappeared in several high-profile exhibitions, such as “L’art conceptuel, une perspective” at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris (1989) and “The New Sculpture 1965–75: Between Geometry and Gesture” (1990) and “Immaterial Objects” (1991–1992), both at the Whitney Museum.1

 For exhibitions like these, site-specific works from decades ago are being relocated or refabricated from scratch at or near the location of their representation, either because shipping is too difficult and costly or because the originals are too fragile, in disrepair, or no longer in existence. Depending on the circumstances, some of these refabrications are destroyed after the specific exhibitions for which they are produced; in other instances, the recreations come to coexist with or replace the old, functioning as new originals (some even finding homes in permanent collections of museums).2 With the cooperation of the artist in many cases, art audiences are now being offered the “real” aesthetic experiences of site specific copies. (33)

there is an ambiguity between ephemerality and site specificity; but both asserted unrepeatability, which is the point I am stressing here.3 Contrary to the earlier conception of site specificity, the current museological and commercial practices of refabricating (in order to travel) once site-bound works make transferability and mobilization new norms for site specificity. As Susan Hapgood has observed, “the once-popular term ‘site-specific,’ has come to mean ‘movable under the right circumstances,’”

The consequences of this conversion, effected by object-oriented decontextualizations in the guise of historical recontextualizations, are a series of normalizing reversals in which the specificity of the site in terms of time and space is rendered irrelevant, making it all the easier for autonomy to be smuggled back into the art work, with the artist allowed to regain his/her authority as the primary source of the work’s meaning. The art work is newly objectified (and commodified), and site specificity is redescribed as the personal aesthetic choice of an artist’s stylistic preference rather than a structural reorganization of aesthetic experience.Thus, a methodological principle of artistic production and dissemination is recaptured as content; active processes are transformed into inert art objects once again. In this way, site-specific art comes to represent criticality rather than performing it. The “here and now” of aesthetic experience is isolated as the signified, severed from its signifier. 다시금 의도치 않게(?) object화 되었다. (38)

Artists, .. are inevitably engaged, self-servingly or with ambivalence, in this process of cultural legitimation.(39)

For example, in spring 1990 Carl Andre and Donald Judd both wrote letters of indignation to Art in America to publicly disavow authorship of sculptures attributed to them that were included in a 1989 exhibition at the Ace Gallery in Los Angeles.

Not having been consulted on the (re)production and installation of these surrogates, they denounced the refabrications as “a gross falsification” and a “forgery,” despite the fact that the sculptures appeared identical to the “originals.”

More than merely a case of ruffled artistic egos, this incident exposes a crisis concerning the status of authorship and authenticity as site-specific art from years ago finds new contexts today. For Andre and Judd, what made the refabricated works illegitimate was not that each was a reproduction of a singular work installed in Varese, Italy, which in principle cannot be reproduced anywhere else anyway, but that the artists themselves did not authorize or oversee the refabrication in California. In other words, the recreations are inauthentic not because of the missing site of their original installation but because of the absence of the artists in the process of their (re)production.

작가의 consensus가 중요해졌고, 다시금 artist’s presence가 핵심적 요소가 된다. Legitimacy, verification, certificate의 주체로서, authorship을 갖고 있는 존재로서. (39)

the point of (re)production. That is, with the evacuation of “artistic” traces, the artist’s authorship as producer of objects is reconfigured as his/her authority to authorize in the capacity of director or supervisor of (re)production. The guarantee of authenticity is finally the artist’s sanction, which may be articulated by his/her actual presence at the moment of production-installation or via a certificate of verification. (42)

They present an unprecedented strain on established patterns of (re)producing, exhibiting, borrowing/lending, purchasing/selling, and commissioning/executing art works in general. At the same time, while some artists regress into the traditional argument of authorial inviolability in order to defend their site-specific practice, others are keen to undo the presumption of criticality associated with such principles as immobility, permanence, and unrepeatability. Rather than resisting mobilization, these artists are attempting to reinvent site specificity as a nomadic practice. –> conversion에 대한 적응 adaptability로서 nomadic model을 제시한 것으로 보인다. (43)


Itinerant Artists

Thus, if the artist is successful, he or she travels constantly as a freelancer, often working on more than one site-specific project at a time, globetrotting as a guest, tourist, adventurer, temporary in-house critic, or pseudo-ethnographer11 to São Paulo, Paris, Munich, London, Chicago, Seoul, New York, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, and so on.12 Generally, the in situ configuration of a project that emerges out of such a situation is temporary, ostensibly unsuitable for re-presentation anywhere else without altering its meaning, partly because the commission is defined by a unique set of geographical and temporal circumstances and partly because the project is dependent on unpredictable and unprogrammable on-site relations. (46)

the presence of the artist has become an absolute prerequisite for the execution/ presentation of site-oriented projects. It is now the performative aspect of an artist’s characteristic mode of operation (even when working in collaboration) that is repeated and circulated as a new art commodity, with the artist him/herself functioning as the primary vehicle for its verification, repetition, and circulation.13 (47)

What the current pattern points to, in fact, is the extent to which the very nature of the commodity as a cipher of production and labor relations is no longer bound to the realm of manufacturing (of things) but defined in relation to the service and management industries. (50)

Concurrent with, or because of, these methodological and procedural changes, there is a reemergence of the centrality of the artist as the progenitor of meaning. This is true even when authorship is deferred to others in collaborations, or when the institutional framework is self-consciously integrated into the work, or when an artist problematizes his/her own authorial role. On the one hand, this “return of the author” results from the thematization of discursive sites, which engenders a misrecognition of them as natural extensions of the artist’s identity, and the legitimacy of the work’s critique is measured by the proximity of the artist’s personal association (converted to expertise) with a particular place, history, discourse, identity, etc. (converted to content). On the other hand, because the signifying chain of site-oriented art is constructed foremost by the movement and decision of the artist, the (critical) elaboration of the project inevitably unfolds around the artist. That is, the intricate orchestration of literal and discursive sites that make up a nomadic narrative requires the artist as a narrator-protagonist. In some cases, this renewed focus on the artist in the name of authorial self-reflexivity leads to a hermetic implosion of (auto)biographical and subjective indulgences. (51)

World Tour also attempted to imagine a productive convergence between specificity and mobility, in which a project created under one set of circumstances might be redeployed in another without losing its impact—or, better, might find new meaning and gain critical sharpness through recontextualizations. (52)

Just as shifts in the structural organization of cultural production alter the form of the art commodity (as service) and the authority of the artist (as primary narrator and protagonist), values like originality, authenticity, and singularity are also reworked in site-oriented art—evacuated from the art work and attributed to the site—reinforcing a general cultural valorization of places as the locus of authentic experience and coherent sense of historical and personal identity.26 (52)

While site-specific art is still described as refuting originality and authenticity as intrinsic qualities of the art object or the artist, these qualities are readily relocated from the art work to the place of its presentation—only to return to the art work now that it has become integral to the site. Admittedly, according to Jacob, “locations . . . contribute a specific identity to the shows staged by injecting into the experience the uniqueness of the place.”30 Conversely, if the social, historical, and geographical specificity of Charleston offered artists a unique opportunity to create unrepeatable works (and by extension an unrepeatable exhibition), then the programmatic implementations of site-specific art in projects like “Places with a Past” ultimately utilize art to promote Charleston as a unique place. What is prized most of all in site-specific art is still the singularity and authenticity that the presence of the artist seems to guarantee, not only in terms of the presumed unrepeatability of the work but in the way the presence of the artist also endows places with a “unique” distinction.

즉, site specificity 의 uniqueness은 두 가지로 온다고 보는데, unrepeatable 한 site뿐만 아니라, artist의 Presence, 즉, 장소를 결정하고, authenticate, verify, cerificate하는 authorship를 지닌 작가, who endows a place with a unique distinction인 것이다. (53)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s