Critical Machines

Critical Machines

American University of Beirut

Critical Machines, 2014. Exhibition view, 2014. Photograph re-rendered by Octavian Esanu.
March 5, 2014
Critical Machines

Exhibition opening: March 6, 2014, 6–9pm
Conference: March 7–8, 2014, 10am–5:30pm

American University of Beirut
Ada Dodge Hall
Riad El-Solh, Beirut, Lebanon

T + 961 (1) 350000 ext. 4345

In the language of contemporary labor processes and manufacturing equipment, a “critical machine” is a piece of equipment designated and programmed to monitor and report on other machines in the production chain. Critical machines are deployed as preventive maintenance measures to guard against equipment malfunctioning and the disruption of the production flow. The main goal of the critical machine is to inform the human operator about urgently required systemic adjustments. We apply this mechanic analogy to the world of contemporary art as a central motif, even a provocation, that might unsettle certain assumptions about the modes of production and the circulation of art today.

Critical Machines is divided into two parts. For the international conference titled “Critical Machines: Art Periodicals Today” (March 7–8), we have summoned editors of local, regional and global art periodicals, inviting them to speak about their publications and the various agendas that inform and motivate their editorial efforts. We are encouraging our guests to reflect upon the tasks that their critical machines fulfill today in a globally interconnected world.

For the exhibition, we have invited six artists and artist groups to display their proposals for critical machines. Here, forms of critique are imbedded in sensuous or objective form. For this project, however, and drawing on the metaphor of the critical machine, we invite artists whose work addresses, represents, negates or critiques not the world at large (as artists have done for centuries) but art itself, its tenets and histories, or what is today often called the “art worlds.” Some of the critical machines produced for this exhibition perform tasks that once fell solely within the field of expertise of art historians, critics, museum curators or aestheticians. In addition, the visitor will find in the exhibition a bookshelf that sets on display multiple instances of critical machines assembled by artists from different epochs and regions, compiled by the curator of the exhibition.
– Octavian Esanu, Curator, AUB Art Galleries


“Critical Machines: Art Periodicals Today” (conference)
March 7–8, 10am–5:30pm
Faculty Lounge, Ada Dodge Hall
American University of Beirut

Participating art periodicals and editors: Al Akhbar newspaper, Culture & Society section—Roy Dib (Beirut, Lebanon); Arteria e-journal—Vardan Azatyan (Yerevan, Armenia); ArtTerritories online publishing platform—Shuruq Harb (Palestine); Art and the Public Sphere journal—Mel Jordan (London); ArtLeaks Gazette—Corina Apostol (Bucharest, Romania); ARTMargins journal—Sven Spieker (Los Angeles), Octavian Esanu, Angela Harutyunyan (Beirut, Lebanon); Bidoun magazine—Negar Azimi (New York); Cabinet magazine—D. Graham Burnett (New York); Chto Delat’ newspaper—Dmitry Vilensky (St. Petersburg, Russia); e-flux journal—Anton Vidokle (New York/Beirut, Lebanon); Gahnama-e-Hunar magazine—Rahraw Omarzad (Kabul, Afghanistan); Ibraaz online platform – Anthony Downey (London); Mada Masr online newspaper and platform, Art & Culture section—Lina Attalah (Cairo, Egypt); October journal—David Joselit (New York City); Red Thread e-journal—Erden Kosova (Istanbul, Turkey); Umělec magazine—Ivan Mečl and Palo Fabuš (London and Prague)


Critical Machines (exhibition)
6 March–26 July
AUB Byblos Bank Art Gallery
Opening: March 6, 6–9pm

Artists in the exhibition
Art & Language, Burak Arikan, Freee art collective, Janah Hilwé, Khalil Rabah, Vadim Zakharov and a bookshelf with critical machines by André Breton, Critical Art Ensemble, Marcel Duchamp, Andrea Fraser, Heresies Collective, William Hogarth, György Galántai and Júlia Klaniczay (Artpool), Kenneth Goldsmith, Hans Haacke & Pierre Bourdieu, Pablo Helguera, Garnet Hertz, Wassily Kandinsky, Allan Kaprow, Hassan Khan, Andrei Monastyrsky, William Morris, Walid Raad, Ad Reinhardt, Temporary Services, Gregory Sholette, Nasrin Tabatabai and Babak Afrassiabi, and others.


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American University of Beirut
March 5, 2014

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