Notes from UG

These notes are from a couple of lectures from my third year of fine art studies at Wimbledon College of Art. These are mostly based off the chapter The Predicament of Contemporary Art from Art in Theory

Starts with language – Sassaure 1911
linear structure
examines what happens when you try to change the linear structure
synchronic structure
Claude Levi-Strauss
Raw / cooked – how culture looks at its own culture
raw = not refined, cooked = refined
typologies – pragmatic

Jacques Derrida
doubts about the liability of language

the process by which “instinctive desires” are set free

the process through which art becomes “banal and useless”
releasing of repressed desires
situationists / surrealists
not liberating – reinforce the capitalist system (production/consumption)

Spectacular culture / culture industry
1945 on culture/freedom/practices gobbled up by culture industries
Guy Debord
“integrated spectacle”
social life is taken over by commerce
superficial representation take over from the real experience
“wow factor” = spectacle

Art as commodity production
within totalitarian systems, politics becomes an aesthetic spectacle
Walter Benjamin – “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”

Decentralisation of the art world
1945 – art world started to decentralise
Japan & Brazil developed their own avant-garde (looking to the old power centres)
Vietnam ware unified “progressive minds around the world against American Imperialism”

How does your practice relate to global issues?

Magiciens de la Terre (1968)
western term “artist” for practice that was not necessarily art
Capitalism drives globalisation

Post-structuralism – art media have no essential characteristics
Media-specificity – we can say exactly what the medium is
post-structuralism says that we can only analyse a media in relation to another
medium-specific = paintings about paintings

Mandarins & Grand Old Men
when a position gets fixed, practice takes on a conservative take
“selling out”?
depoliticisation of art
the proliferation of new media
mnemonic art slides into fetishistic distortion and spectacle

Formless / abject
Postwar avant-garde
Mike Kelley
“Pay For Your Pleasure”
paintings of “genius figures”
paintings and quotations, the genius as a figure exempt from reality
John Wayne Gracey
prison paintings
child murders
criminal can become perverse hero/genius

Nouveau artist
“Condition of Woman I”
derogatory depiction of women
deconstructed stereotype?
is it its own critique?

“the place where meaning collapses”
“neither one thing nor the other”
neither subject nor object
Julia Kristeva 1980, “Power of Horror”
that which does not respect “borders, positions, rules” that “disturbs identity, system, order”
the moment you identify it, you classify it, it ceases to be abject
the paradox of representing the unrepresentable
Cindy Sherman Untitled I, 1985
abject anxiety?
abject horror?
Mike Kelley, Spelunking
David Cronenburg, The Fly
abjection rituals
abjection and felinity

Rosalind Krauss, “Formlessness: A Users Guide”
base materiality / horizontality / pulse / entropy
Alberto Burri – Combustone Plastica
medium specificity
Robert Morris – Scatter Piece. Hetero-sculpture
Georges Battile
The Story of the Eye 1928
The Solar Anus 1931
Notion of Expenditure 1933
formless is informed by “bringing things down into the world” (debasement)
speaks to us of what is “belittled, denigrated, repressed” – Victor Grouer

Encylopedia Acrphalica
the higher up something is, the cleaner it seems to be
social construct?
hierarchy in family portraiture
mapping of abject gender

abjection vs formlessness

Beavis & Butthead – abject masculine

Jackson Pollock

abjection is uncanny / unease

Hayao Miyazaki

Murakami’s phallic sculptures

Yayoi Kusama – “polka dots are the way to infinity”

Barbara Creed

Betty Freedon – “The Problem Without a Name”

Carlos Castaneda

The uncanny valley

Robert Gober

Sarah Lucas

Paul McCarthy

David Cross
The Lion & the Unicorn – Wolverhampton Art Gallery
George Orwell
connections between people
intergenerational continuity
relationship between past / present / future
Gallery – white cube / cultured / cut off from nature
experimentation with limits
artists put a frame on the world
thinking must be as a collective, not individual
climate science/change
electric light is a necessity?
Richard Long
Waltham & Cross
Karl Andre
Donald Judd
Black Sun
Practice – breed research
Frieze turns art into commodity capitalism
Art world concentrates cultural capital
After Image – David Cross
What happens if we push this?
People and Planet Green League
RBS investment in oil / coal / fracking
Divestment from oil / coal / fossil fuel
Public interest research centre

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