Report

Reading Group: Dr Michael Asbury

A brief update about this terms Reading Group with Dr Michael Asbury.

The Contemporary Art and Latin America Reading Group has been running this term with ten PhD students and visiting academics. The themes this year relate to the historiography of contemporary art.

Reading Group – Historiographies of the Contemporary
Contemporary Art as Post-Conceptual Art?

The title of this reading group, ‘historiographies of the contemporary’, arises from two statements by the philosopher of art Peter Osborne. These statements seem however to contradict each other: the first argues that the term contemporary should be understood as a ‘coming together of different but equally ‘present’ temporalities (Anywhere or Nowehere at All, Verso, 2013), the second that contemporary art is post-conceptual (Conceptual Art, Phaidon, 2002). For Osborne the term contemporary is inadequate as a periodising conception of the time of art history.’ If the conjunction in the contemporary pertains to the fact of living together in time, in the present, its disjunctive nature arises from the realization that within this shared ‘now’ are distinct subjectivities informed by different trajectories through time, in other words, genealogies.

The liberating potential that such a proposition offers in terms of the validation of different temporalities, seems therefore to be contradicted or at the very least retracted by Osborne’s claim that ‘contemporary art is post-conceptual art’. In other words, Osborne seems to identify an important malaise within legitimising discourses on contemporary art – proposing discrepant yet equally valid genealogies for art now – yet he appears to fall victim of this malaise himself – through the emphasis on the overwhelming significance of the legacy of conceptual art within contemporary art.

Intrinsic to his argument therefore is not only the very praxis, but also the specific historical disjunction of conceptual art. It is specific for it relates to its very own genealogy – the rupture with abstract expressionism and the disjunctive invocation of the early work of Marcel Duchamp. It is this relation that conceptual art has with the hegemonic narrative of modern art that appears to annul the possibility of understanding contemporary art as both the post-conceptual and the ‘coming together of different but equally ‘present’ temporalities.

This year the reading group will investigate the development of discourses on conceptual art in order to re-think the current discourse on the movement as a means of problematising current debates on the nature of contemporary art.

Suggested reading:

3/11 Henry Flynt – Conceptual Art 1963

10/11 Kynaston McShine – Introduction to Primary Structures 1966

17/11 Sol LeWitt – Sentenses on conceptual art (1969) and Paragraphs on conceptual art (1967)

24/11 Lucy Lippard and John Chandler – Dematerialisation of Art 1968

1/12 Brazilian Embassy round-table debate on concrete poetry (if you want to attend please confirm asap and I’ll do a group rsvp)

8/12 Joseth Kosuth – Art After Philosophy 1969

15/12 Harald Szeemann – When Attitudes become Form 1969

12/01 Germano Celant – Conceptual Art, Arte Povera, Land Art 1970

19/01 Kynaston McShine – Information (+ please choose two artists statements to discuss) 1970

26/01 Ursula Meyer – Conceptual Art 1972

2/02 Gregory Battcock – Idea Art 1973

09/02 Global Conceptualisms – Eastern Europe + China section 1999

16/02 Global Conceptualisms – Latin America section 1999

23/02 Rosalind Krauss – Post Media Condition 1999

1/03 Peter Osborne – Conceptualism (up to Lineages of Negation) 2002

8/03 Peter Osborne – Conceptualism (Lineages of Negation and Instruction, Performance, Documentation) 2002

15/03 Peter Osborne – Conceptualism (Processes, System Series + Word + Sign) 2002

22/03 Peter Osborne – Conceptualism (appropriation, Intervention, Everyday + Politics and Ideology) 2002

Tuesday 08 December, 2015