Magazine article Artforum International

Alice Creischer, Max Jorge Hinderer, and Andreas Siekmann: Talk about "Principio Potosi," 2010

Magazine article Artforum International

Alice Creischer, Max Jorge Hinderer, and Andreas Siekmann: Talk about "Principio Potosi," 2010

Article excerpt

FOUR DECADES AFTER ITS BIRTH, the art of institutional critique--that refractory offspring of 1960s site-specificity and Soviet factography--is under considerable pressure to settle into docile middle age. Of course, institutional critique's once radical strategies were absorbed into the canon almost immediately after they were introduced; but increasingly, it seems, they are invoked in purely formal fashion by artists who seek legitimation via recourse to a heroic past. At the same time, there is a renewed intensity in the scholarly push for historicization, via a wave of anthologies, conferences, exhibitions, and so on.

Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann's artistic practice, which encompasses curatorial projects as well as critical writings, cannot but appear anachronistic in this context--anachronistic, however, in the best sense. Since the 1990s, their work (which often involves collaboration with third parties) has distinguished itself by its productive exploration of an internal tension: The pair are engaged in an ongoing reflection, inspired by institutional critique, on the constraints that limit the possibilities for artistic action today, but they are simultaneously on a quest to revive militant forms of aesthetic and political commitment. One of their key enterprises, for example--begun in 2003 and still not completed--is an updating of artist Gerd Arntz and sociologist Otto Neurath's famed statistical atlas Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft (Society and Economy, 1930), with its lucid visual mapping of industrial capitalism from the rubber plantations of Southeast Asia to the auto factories of Detroit. Reconfiguring and developing Arntz and Neurath's pictogrammatic language, Creischer and Siekmann are systematically depicting the workings of the global economy today. While this updated atlas seeks to capture current conditions and render them legible, the artists' exhibition projects aim at disrupting the rule of those same conditions within the microcosm of the art world. These projects are typically conceived and implemented in dialogue with other cultural producers and activist groups, and all intervene in the routines and protocols of the art world, even if only temporarily, in order to address both the artists' own involvement with institutions and the increasing complicity between museums and neoliberal ideology.

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Potential conflicts are inherent in such activities, and this possibility is both the burden this sort of praxis must bear and the motor that powers it. …

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