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Unformatted text preview: plet ion by the viewer, since the polit ics of his pract ice der ive instead
from how the work is made:
To make art polit ically means to choose mater ials that do not int imidate, a format that doesn’t dominate, a device that does not seduce. To
make art polit ically is not to submit to an ideolog y or to denounce the
system, in opposit ion to so - called “polit ical art .” It is to work with the
fullest energ y against the pr inciple of “qualit y.”61
A rhetor ic of democracy per vades Hir schhorn’s work, but it is not manifested in
t he v iewer’s literal act iv at ion; rat her, it appear s in decisions regarding format ,
mater ials, and locat ion, such as his “alt ar s,” which emulate ad hoc memor ials of
ﬂower s and toys at accident sites, and which are located in per ipheral locat ions
around a cit y. In these works—as in the inst allat ions Pole-Self and Laundrette, both
2001—found images, text s, advert isement s, and photocopies are juxt aposed to
contextualize consumer banalit y with polit ical and milit ar y atrocit ies.
Many of Hir schhorn’s concerns came toget her in t he Bat aille Monument
(2002), made for Document a XI. Located in Nordst adt , a suburb of Kassel several
miles away from the main Document a venues, the Monument compr ised three inst allat ions in large makeshift shacks, a bar run by a local family, and a sculpture of a
tree, all erected on a lawn surrounded by t wo housing project s. The shacks were
const ructed from Hir schhorn’s signature mater ials: cheap t imber, foil, plast ic
sheet ing, and brown t ape. The ﬁr st housed a librar y of books and videos grouped
around ﬁve Bat aillean themes: word, image, art , sex, and sport . Several worn sofas,
a television, and video were also provided, and the whole inst allat ion was designed
to facilit ate familiar izat ion with the philosopher, of whom Hir schhorn claims to
be a “fan.” The t wo other shacks housed a television studio and an inst allat ion of
informat ion about Bat aille’s life and work. To reach the Bat aille Monument, visitor s
had to part icipate in a further aspect of the work: secur ing a lift from a Turkish
cab company which was contracted to ferr y Document a visitor s to and from the site.
Viewer s were then stranded at the Monument unt il a return cab became available,
dur ing which t ime they would inevit ably make use of the bar.
In locat ing the Monument in the middle of a communit y whose ethnic and economic st atus did not mark it as a t arget audience for Document a, Hir schhorn
Ibid., p. 29. Hir schhorn is here referr ing to the idea of qualit y espoused by Clement Greenberg,
Michael Fr ied, and other cr it ics as a cr iter ion of aesthet ic judgment . I should like to dist ance my use of
“qualit y” (as in “t he qualit y of t he relat ionships in relat ional aest het i c s ” ) f r o m t h a t a l l u d e d t o b y
Hir schhorn. 76 OCTOBER Thomas Hirschhorn. Right
and facing page: Bat aille
Monument, Document a
XI, 2002. Courtesy Ba...
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- Spring '09