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Unformatted text preview: l processes” (Gillick quoted in Liam
Gillick: Renovat ion Filter: Recent Past and Near Future [Br istol: Arnolﬁni, 2000], p. 16). Rirkr it Tiravanija’s
OCTOBER 110, Fall 2004, pp. 51–79. © 2004 October Magazine, Ltd. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 52 OCTOBER Lewis Kachur has descr ibed as the “ideological exhibit ions” of the histor ical avantgarde: in t hese exhibit ions (such as t he 1920 Internat ional Dada Fair and t he
1938 Internat ional Surrealist Exhibit ion), the hang sought to reinforce or epitomize the ideas cont ained within the work.3
The curator s promot ing this “laborator y” paradigm — including Mar ia Lind,
Hans Ulr ich Obr ist , Barbara van der Linden, Hou Hanru, and Nicolas Bourr iaud—
have to a large extent been encouraged to adopt this curator ial modus operandi
as a direct react ion to the t ype of art produced in the 1990s: work that is openended, interact ive, and resist ant to closure, often appear ing to be
“work-in- progress” r at her t han a completed object . Such work seems to der ive
from a creat ive misreading of post structuralist theor y: rather than the interpret at ions of a work of art being open to cont inual reassessment , the work of art itself is
argued to be in perpetual ﬂux. There are many problems with this idea, not least
of which is the difﬁcult y of discerning a work whose ident it y is willfully unst able.
Another problem is the ease with which the “laborator y” becomes market able as a
space of leisure and entert ainment . Venues such as the Balt ic in Gateshead, the
K u n s t v e r e i n M u n i c h , a n d t h e P a l a i s d e To k y o h a v e u s e d m e t a p h o r s l i k e
“labor ator y,” “construct ion site”, and “art factor y” to different iate themselves from
bureaucr acy- encumbered collect ion-based museums; t heir dedicated project
spaces create a buzz of creat ivit y and the aura of being at the vanguard of contemporar y product ion.4 One could argue t hat in t his context , project-based
works -in- progress and art ist s -in-residence begin to dovet ail wit h an “exper ience
economy,” t he market ing st rateg y t hat seeks to replace goods and ser v ices wit h
scr ipted and st aged per sonal exper iences.5 Yet what the viewer is supposed to garner
from such an “exper ience” of creat ivit y, which is essent ially inst itut ionalized studio
act ivit y, is often unclear.
Related to the project-based “laborator y” tendency is the trend toward inviting contemporar y art ist s to design or troubleshoot amenit ies within the museum,
work is frequent ly descr ibed in similar terms: it is “like a laborator y for human cont act” ( Jerr y Salt z,
“Resident Alien,” The Village Voice, July 7–14, 1999, n.p.), or “psycho - social exper iment s where situat ions are
made for meet ings, exchange, etc.” (Mar ia Lind, “Letter and Event ,” Paletten 223 [Apr il 1995], p. 41). It
should be noted that “laborator y” in this context does not denote psychological or behavior...
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- Spring '09