Viewer s were then stranded at the monument unt il a

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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 61. 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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