Academic journal article Afterimage

Looking for Bruce Conner

Academic journal article Afterimage

Looking for Bruce Conner

Article excerpt

BY KEVIN HATCH/THE MIT PRESS/2012/342 PP./$29.95 (HB)

In his new book on artist and filmmaker Bruce Conner, Kevin Hatch seeks to re-position Conner as a major figure in mid- to late twentieth-century art. Conner is certainly not unknown, but unlike his reputation as an experimental filmmaker, his reputation as an artist never matched the acclaim of many of his contemporaries of the 1950s and '60s. As Hatch notes, this is partly due to Conner's own distrust of the art establishment, which led him to deliberate provocation arid abandon modes of working--such as his assemblages--just as they were achieving success. Conner situated himself on the fringe of art commerce, and Hatch finds this same position of marginality, in Conner's practice as well, the results of which were constantly at odds with dominant trends. Hatch traces a number of threads running through Conner's work over the course of his fifty-year career--including a constant need to provoke, a desire to engender an active viewer through his works' theatrical or "performative" qualities, and a tension between personal impulses toward creation and works that resist fixed meaning--focusing on Connor's early assemblages, films, and drawings from the 1960s and '70s, as well as his collages and inkblots from the '80s. …

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