Alberro Chapter 4

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S.R.: That could be a good end of this talk. But [...] I'm really strongly interested in... first: How did we reach the point that we can talk about movements in the history of art reflected like this? For this instance, isn't conceptual art very important for our discourse in an art historical way? And the other thing is the question of exclusion, inclusion and colonization of different points of production, of terms and movements and things [...] is in both ways interesting. Like you said, now we try to involve Oiticica in the conceptual art movement or thinking. The other way is that people like Camnitzer have been really early in the 60s in New York, and they were not involved in the conceptual art movement, but maybe they should be involved in the whole context.

A.A.: So there two questions, right?! One is: Has conceptual art influenced the way we even talk about art history? I think that one thing about a lot of the artists that we were talking about is that... [...] It's interesting if you read Howard Singerman's book on the MFA-program. You realize artists around the 1960s begin to – not that Singerman talks about this in particular – it's in the 1960s that artists begin to write in a very articulate way. [...] In an interesting way because criticism was so bad at that moment according to the artists, they decided to take it up on their own. They decided to do their own art criticism. Judd does it. This a minimalist art phenomenon where they start to write their own criticism about their own work and about the work of the artists they care about. [...] That produces this artist who is very well educated in writing, shall we say. [...] If you look at all the anthologies of collected writings of artists that have been coming out in the last 15 years it's that generation of the 60s and 70s. It has always struck me as peculiar that younger artists today, even artists that claim to be conceptual artists, don't write. [...] It looks like we've entered a completely new moment. I try to show the beginnings of that moment even with conceptual art in the sense of the image becoming even more important than [...] what the substance was. If you advance something and talk about it in this particular way that's already going to construct something rather than any kind of work supporting this. But if you look at a lot of younger artists today... I'm trying to do a series of [...] collected writings of younger artists and there are very few. There's Gregg Bordowitz... Very few artists of this generation have really written to the extent that Smithson wrote or Judd wrote or Dan Graham wrote... Mary Kelly, Martha Rosler [...] Daniel Buren. [...] I think Buren's writings are so important. For me, I have to say, [...] that was my starting point in all this. I remember reading some of those essays and thinking [...] as someone who was interested in art history –  how can I continue talking about art history after reading these critiques. They were just so phenomenal. And I wasn't getting in art history - I mean I did - people like Tom Crow, Tim Clark were also very important because they were also critiquing all of the givens that we had. [...] I'm talking about the mid 80s, when I began in art history, there was already a good critique of art history from art history itself. But it was interesting it was people like Buren, like Haacke that really problematized the whole field for me... Mary Kelly, hugely important Martha Rosler – that in a way I think the artist was so far ahead of the historians at that moment of contemporary art, anyway, let's just call them the critics, with the exception of a few I've just mentioned – that they had a profound impact [...] I'm a product of that I would say. //Me too// [...] Then when we look at a lot of these young artists, [...] their work looks like conceptual art but they've probably never read a Buren essay and they certainly don't have the critique that was developed there. [...] It's the look rather than the substance. Of course then one could say, look what's happened to Daniel Buren. [...] You could almost say that he's contradicting some of the initial premises, but that's another issue altogether.

S.R.: Okay, thank you very much for today! ...


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