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The Open Work: Participatory Art Since Silence

Relational Tuesday, February 07

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iDC Lecture by Dr. Judith Rodenbeck
In the introduction to his 2002 book, Relational Aesthetics, the curator Nicolas Bourriaud writes that currently, "the liveliest factor that is played out on the chessboard of art has to do with interactive, user-friendly and relational concepts." Neither revival nor comeback, relational aesthetics, for Bourriaud, is the correct vanguardist response to a world saturated by mass communications. Part of the newness had to do, in Bourriaud's account, with asking what kind of art was possible after the doldrums of the 1980s, when the hegemony of "spectacle" seemed assured (via the alleged failures of May 1968), after institutional critique seemed to have run its course, and after any socially-engaged avant-garde had exhausted itself and the political patience of its adherents-and even, perhaps, the conditions of its possibility. "How are these apparently elusive works to be decoded, be they process-related or behavioral by ceasing to take shelter behind the sixties art history?" (Bourriaud, 7) Yet this unwillingness to examine relational aesthetics with an eye on history is a defensive maneuver. As such it is one that needs to be taken on. This talk is an historical presentation addressed to some of the parameters under which the "interactive, user-friendly and relational" were actively explored-and critiqued--in key works of the 1950s and early 1960s.

About Dr. Judith Rodenbeck:
BA, Yale University. BFA, Massachusetts College of Art. MA, MPhil, PhD, Columbia University. Special interests in art since 1945 and its compositional strategies; intersections between modernist literature, philosophy, and the visual arts. Co-author and co-curator with Benjamin Buchloh of Experiments in the Everyday: Allan Kaprow and Robert Watts--events, objects, documents; contributor to catalogues for Work Ethic and Inside the Visible; author of articles for Grey Room, The Art Book, Documents, and P-Form. Recipient of fellowships, including Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Fellowship in American Art and Columbia University Mellon Fellowship for Art History.

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