October 1, 2009 - Artforum - October 2009
October 1, 2009

October 2009

October 2009


This month in Artforum: On the Commons. Artforum presents two extended excerpts from Commonwealth, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s much-anticipated final volume of the Empire trilogy, whose earlier texts—Empire (2000) and Multitude (2004)—have, arguably, been the dominant works of political philosophy of the new century. Curator Okwui Enwezor sets the stage, with a discussion of Hardt and Negri’s profound if diffuse impact on artistic practice and on the art world more broadly; and art historian Pamela M. Lee considers new perspectives on the commons offered by the Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective, whose artistic and curatorial projects have appeared in the Venice Biennale, Manifesta, and Documenta, as well as, most recently, Frith Street Gallery in London.

“Early in this decade it was quite clear, given the sudden proliferation of artistic collectives, that vestiges of Hardt and Negri’s theorizations were being absorbed into numerous counterpractices.” —Okwui Enwezor

“Raqs’s members will tell you that the art world’s peculiar fetish for collectivism hews to a misty-eyed vision of a storied past, failing to capture what is at once more mundane and more insidious about collectivism’s contemporary forms.” —Pamela M. Lee

“Even artistic experimentation and creation that is not explicitly political can do important political work, sometimes revealing the limits of our imagination and at other times fueling it.” —Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

Also: Popularly known as an author of science fiction, the late J. G. Ballard was a veritable philosopher of contemporary culture, whose keen observations both delineated and anticipated vast, rapid shifts in postwar technology and media—the likes of which, his stories implied, were forever altering the shape of our global environment. The writer is remembered here in texts by editor Robert Weil, film director David Cronenberg, artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, and poet Clark Coolidge.

“If our past has been partly Kafkaesque, our present and future are Ballardian.” —Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

“I got an erection reading Crash in the bathtub and thought, Hey, this is not exactly my thrill of choice—or is it?!” —Clark Coolidge

Plus: Art historian and critic Hal Foster reflects on “Dan Graham: Beyond,” the storied post-Minimalist’s retrospective that traveled this summer from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

“What Andy Warhol was to the so-called Pictures generation, so Dan Graham might be to the Orchard–Reena Spaulings crowd—except that, in part because of figures like Graham, art history no longer seems to develop in this dynastic way.” —Hal Foster

And: Artist Cyprien Gaillard curates “Relocating the Past,” a speculative exhibition whose “reunion” of displaced monuments ranges from Fritz Koenig’s Sphere, 1971, to Ramses II temple statues; Scott MacDonald views Andrew Noren’s films on the occasion of the artist’s major exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art; Maria Lind inaugurates a column on contemporary curating; Liz Kotz gives her reading of Words Without Pictures; Nicholas Cullinan interviews artist Henrik Olesen; Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer gives photographer and filmmaker Elad Lassry a critical double take; Laurence A. Rickels explains our thirst for HBO’s True Blood; Elizabeth A. Castelli asks what sacrifices are made in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist; Maria Gough, Charlotte Birnbaum, and Bruce Sterling look at Futurism in its hundredth year; Ian Kiaer gives his Top Ten; and Huey Copeland remembers sociopolitical provocateur and painter Robert Colescott.

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