Magazine article Artforum International

David Horvitz: Blum & Poe

Magazine article Artforum International

David Horvitz: Blum & Poe

Article excerpt

On July 12, the day that David Horvitz's first solo show at Blum & Poe opened, the artist and his numerous editor-avatars were banned from contributing to Wikipedia. The embargo culminated an ongoing conflict in which editors of the online encyclopedia persistently hunted down and deleted any discovered images of California shoreline (from Pelican State Beach in the north to Border Field State Park in the south) that Horvitz had posted to the public beaches' Wikipedia entries over the past three years. Each of the supposedly disruptive images--part of Horvitz's multimodal project "Public Access," 2011-14--depicts the artist looking out over the ocean, his back to the camera. In one image, his head is just visible over the top of a scrubby dune (Public Access [ToIowa Dunes State Park], 2011-14). In another, his body is largely camouflaged by a tree (Public Access lUsal Creek], 2011-14). But in the forty-eight images that were displayed here as framed prints, Horvitz usually appears front and center, a black-haired man in nondescript clothes.

Since Horvitz first began uploading these images to Wikipedia, they have been taken down or cropped (to remove his figure) by the editors, reuploaded by the artist, removed again, and aggressively debated in Wikipedia-administration discussion boards, a process documented by the artist. Manifesting via performative gesture, digital images, the Internet, print publications (there have been at least two, inclusive of screen grabs from Wikipedia discussion forums), and now gallery exhibition, "Public Access" brilliantly illuminates the friction between ideals of public space and the reality: on the one hand, the public-beach access promised all Californians versus the actual intimidation and discouragement of vistors by beachfront homeowners, and, on the other, Wikipedia's promise of an open-access knowledge commons versus the aggressive policing that often goes on behind the code. Horvitz's project is compelling for the sophisticated format-specificity of each of its iterations, but here, images long available for free online became archival materials, individually framed and neatly hung on the walls of a commercial gallery. …

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