Trend Alert! Invisible History Art

by Art Fag City on April 22, 2009 · 12 comments Events

art fag city, Alfredo Jarr
Alfredo Jaar, Muxima, video still, 2005, detail  Galerie Lelong, New York

Anyone else tired of Extra Textual Art? By this I mean work in which the value of the object unduly increases with the weight of its material’s history. Cornelia Parker‘s hanging mud balls escavated from the Leaning Tower of Pisa serves as a good example, as do her drips of mud on a glass panes, supposedly taken from Freud’s garden.  I’m not a fan of art borrowing on the cultural cache of other workers.

Film also finds itself afflicted by the extra textual phenomenon, though the problems change slightly. In Alfredo Jaar’s Muxima, the artist creates a video so rife with obscure references, only viewers who have actually lived in Africa will get the full meaning.  Offering up one of the more crushing criticisms I’ve heard recently, an anonymous friend described the work as “an even more boring version of a PBS documentary on Africa.”

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

giovanni April 22, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Well put! I’ve long been bothered by artwork that assumes that the weight of its subject matter is enough, without taking into consideration that it is what the artist does with that subject matter that is the true content of the artwork. But as you can see from that previous sentence, I haven’t been able to express it as clearly as you have.

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giovanni April 22, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Well put! I’ve long been bothered by artwork that assumes that the weight of its subject matter is enough, without taking into consideration that it is what the artist does with that subject matter that is the true content of the artwork. But as you can see from that previous sentence, I haven’t been able to express it as clearly as you have.

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Robert Sloon April 23, 2009 at 2:41 pm

The irony is that people who actually live in Africa will never get to see the film. It smells of another artist selling Africa’s perceived exoticism to the highest bidder. And you can guess who loses in that transaction.

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Robert Sloon April 23, 2009 at 9:41 am

The irony is that people who actually live in Africa will never get to see the film. It smells of another artist selling Africa’s perceived exoticism to the highest bidder. And you can guess who loses in that transaction.

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cody April 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm

maybe it’s meant for africans.

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cody April 23, 2009 at 11:08 am

maybe it’s meant for africans.

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Steve April 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm

good point, but so where (and how) do you place the contextually-specific works of someone like santiago sierra?

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Steve April 23, 2009 at 1:25 pm

good point, but so where (and how) do you place the contextually-specific works of someone like santiago sierra?

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cody April 27, 2009 at 10:55 pm

good point.

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cody April 27, 2009 at 5:55 pm

good point.

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Greg Mihalko November 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Hmm, I would say historical trajectories always travel with objects. It’s art, when it’s framed outside of it’s banal trajectory as something to be aesthetically noticed. Duchamp, Warhol, Koons, and Hirst et al were/are ‘extra textualists’

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