WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels
WIELS | Avenue Van volxem, 354 / Forest
artists & participants
This group exhibition identifies a genre of art in which a situation, event, or action is the central medium for a young international group of artists. Many will carry out live actions, involve actors to enact their instructions, or in some way record their actions for the exhibition. Still, despite a live event being at the center of the production of the thing they call the work of art, existing terms such as "participatory art", "performance", or "relational aesthetics" are not appropriate to describe what they do, all the more so as the artists themselves, in fact, trace their lineage elsewhere. Instead, the legacy of Conceptual art is often their reference point, and to it these artist bring the tactics of public protest, dance, esotericism, social work, or storytelling, for example. In the process, they are each in their own way thinking through what an artwork is and does (rather than what it represents) either at the moment of being made or when it encounters visitors in an exhibition.
From the act of having two strangers spend the entire duration of the exhibition learning to copy the handwriting of the other (Jiří Skála) to staging outmoded or speculative demonstrations in different cities (Sharon Hayes) or from organizing the precise and timed activities of an entire village so that each person living there does the same ordinary task such as cleaning or eating at the exact same time (Kateřina Šedá) to engaging a museum attendant to spontaneously recite the day's newspaper headline to visitors at the ticket desk (Tino Sehgal): these are just a few examples of projects featured in the exhibition.
In 1966, the late critic Gene Swenson curated an exhibition that he called The Other Tradition that proposed an alternative geneaology for the art of his day: rejecting the lineage connecting Cubism to Color Field painting that was then taken to be fact, he instead proposed a trajectory that claimed Dada and Surrealism the predecessors to Pop. This group exhibition, loosely inspired by that one, and reusing its title, looks at a generation of artists making art that positions itself against the too-long dominant idea of the autonomous, immutable, and material character of art; they create the conditions instead for the viewer to experience an event or action that is the heart of the artwork itself (and even devise ways for the audience to experience it when the action has already taken place). In the process, they make art forms that both continue but also break with something as dusty as what one might call an art historical "tradition".
Different events and actions, installations, films, sculptures, and props will be visible as each artist's contribution to this experimental attempt to identify the terms of what an other tradition of art could be. And yet, it should be said: this attempt eschews the form of either a festival of events or a presentation of mere documentation and instead decidedly articulates itself as an exhibition, with all the questions that making an exhibition for such artwork implies.
only in german
The Other Tradition
Kurator: Elena Filipovic
Künstler: Danai Anesiadou, Ei Arakawa (& Silke Otto-Knapp), Cezary Bodzianowski, Sharon Hayes, Sung Hwan Kim, Roman Ondák, Jimmy Robert, Katerina Seda, Tino Sehgal, Jiri Skala, Pilvi Takala, Tris Vonna-Michell