One remarkable development
in modern art is the fusion of different disciplines. This fusion is primarily
an internal process. Sculpture, for instance, used to be a discipline
that strove to produce and reproduce classical models, in which the human
form served as the mimetic basis. Now, however, sculpture is at the intersection
of both, fine arts and performance art, and includes hybrid elements from
disciplines as diverse as photography, painting, architecture, video etc.
At the same time, however, sculpture can maintain a close affiliation
to „classical“ works. Today’s artists are no longer
limited to a particular material or traditionally defined fields of activity;
rather, an artist must master several traditional and non-traditional
artistic disciplines. Innovation in modern art is the daughter of many
At the same time, this fusion is an external process. Until recently,
there was a large industry that contemplated and commented upon art and
then processed it and mediated it to the public. Today, this congenial
approach has given way to a more cooperative one in which criticism no
longer plays a peripheral role but rather both effects and interacts with
art. These two micro cultures - production and mediation of art - often
clash in their prejudicial differences, but live in a very close symbiosis.
Theory considers treating a painting qua painting as obsolete and treating
an object qua object as historical. And so do the artists. In answer to
the historicizing (and discriminating) tendency of the theorist, the artist
has developed a series of self-reflective strategies. As a result, 20th
Century art, to a large degree, cannot be understood without critical
theory. And so, art now serves the additional function of providing interpretation.
To warrant putting every-day items in a museum requires an intellectual
analysis of those items. Duchamp was an intellectual, as was Beuys, as
is Haacke. The artist has become a theorist.
Artists have painted white (Manzoni, Ryman) and black (Malevitch) pictures;
they have made socially conscious (Beuys) and immaterial sculptures; and
they have posed questions about the progress of art (Nauman) or the expandability
of its materials. It is no longer the object that is at the center, but
the meta-object or dis-positive. The artist brings forth the work of art
and the critic locates it, but the dis-positive is governed by two equal,
competing and overlapping concepts: art as theory and art as production.
As modern art increasingly changes into theory, it became appropriate
not so much to exhibit
a specific object, but to present the discourse itself as the topic of
an exhibition. That was the beginning of the exhibition project dis-positiv.
The goal of dis-positiv, which began in spring 2000, is to challenge,
to further construct and to deconstruct one aspect of modern art: its
increasing overlap with discourse. These seven-day exhibitions will not
focus on specific works of art, but on a number of art historians, art
theorists and curators who will themselves be placed behind glass to serve
as embodiments of their discourse.
The Exhibition Project dis-positiv
In 1998 I developed an exhibition
project about the Future of Art and it`s relation to discourse which was
realized under the patronage of the Austrian UNESCO-Commission since 2000
at different venues.
itself as an artistic statement addressing the question of the future
of modern art in its characterizing contexts. The exhibition and its publications
deal with the way in which the historization of art, contemporary art
theory and the art institution influence the production of the art object
(and in reverse).
An exhibition catalogue (as a kind of a newspaper/magazine) is accompanying
the project at each venue. It presents the discussions and controversies
that form the foundation of the exhibition. An interactive web site (http://www.dis-positiv.org)
functions as documentation and archive, allowing a wider public participation
in the discussion and debate.The project started in Vienna, Academy of
the Fine Arts (May 2-8, 2000), moving on to Cologne, Schnitt Ausstellungsraum
(October 13-14, 2000), to Bregenz, Magazin4 (November 6-12, 2000) and
to Berlin, staatsbankberlin (April 2-9 2003), and is in planning for New
York for Spring 2004 and other venues.
The duration of the exhibition per location until now was about a week.
The exhibition was running 4 hours daily combining two different units
with two hours each. The architectural frame of the exhibition consists
of a surface of 230 square feet (70 square meters) mounted Plexiglas that
separates viewers from theoreticians. On each day of the exhibition, one
or several theorists are being present in the exhibition space, separated
from the visitors yet connected by telephone and Internet communication.
The art theorists, critics and curators function as objects of art themselves.
The location determines the choice of those exhibited and thereby also
determines the discourse. In this respect each location will shed a different
light on the contemporary situation.
To enable the exhibited curator or theorists to do his/her work, an office
situation is provided; with no specific pose for the curator/theoretician
to take, he/she can move freely, sit or read. At the same time any sort
of self-presentation is welcome and will only support the performing intention
The theoretician on view will be given the opportunity to present his/her
idea of the future of art as he/she
expects or hopes it to be. This statement is to be emitted by speakerphones
into the viewing space. The statements is also be made accessible in written
form in the especially published magazine and on the website.
person will carry a web cam on his/her shoulder enabling the viewer to
adopt their point of view and transferring it to the website of dis-positiv
by streaming video (http://www.dis-positiv.org).
website contains the complete number of statements from all locations.
As a medium, not bound to specific places, the website guarantees participation
of a broader public and enables a comparison on an international level.
containing the positions of artists and critics in a more or less equal
number accompanies each venue. The combination of having art critics and
artists commenting the issue is an important aspect of the communicative
intention of the project.
project dis-positiv takes place at several European and US venues.
At each location, theoreticians of the particular area are invited for
In the Winter
2000 we were planning an exhibition of dis-positiv in the École
Normal Superieure des Beaux Arts. For several months we were contacting
partners, artists and theorists. Amongst others I visited Jochen Gerz
and invited him to provide an artist statement about the leading question
of dis-positiv. Jochen was very interested in the concept and
confirmed to contribute a statement about the future of art within its
relation to discourse. The planning of the Parisian realization is not
yet completed. While I was concentrating on the Berlin realization I came
across the first announcement of Anthology of the Art in the Kunstzeitung
from July 2001 and I was very flattered to realize that ideas of dis-positiv
get disseminated on a different platform.
dis-positiv is an artistic statement (installation) understanding
itself (1) as an ironic comment on criticism (x is obsolete, y is overdone,
z is a copy), on iconoclasm and the continuous drive for novelty (does
art always have to be brand new? Then art could be a sort of a brand,
as it is in fashion). And (2) as a vision: If we define culture as the
sum of local activities, the question of a global perspective arises.
The problem is, that we don't have a global perspective, but we need one.
and re-reflecting our strategies in art production, art theory, and art
industry, in culture as well as in society or politics is a part of this
project. We start at a local point to get a broader perspective by moving
from one local point to another. dis-positiv is a roaming platform
own position in the network of dis-positiv is as an instigator.
Throughout the working process, I turned into a complexificator, which
is a role I was aiming for.