Bilateral Blogging – Essay about Bilateral Kellerberrin now available

Bilateral Kellerberrin Screenshot

An essay I wrote about my blog-as-art project Bilateral Kellerberrin has been published in The International Journal of the Arts in Society. (You can download a pdf here or here.)

To give you a broad idea, the essay is about blogging as a new(ish) form of artmaking, requiring us to think in new(ish) ways about its ethics and aesthetics. It also involves a bit of thinking about some of the ideas in Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics, particularly the idea of micro-utopias and the difference between art that occurs in -vs- out of an art gallery context. I’m following John Dewey’s concerns (from Art as Experience) that art should not compartmentalise itself into special architectural spaces, but try to find ways to co-exist with every day life on its own terms. I claim that blogging (as I used it in Bilateral Kellerberrin) has the capacity to do this.

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…post-script [October 16 2007]: my colleague over at LeisureArts has posted some paragraphs reflecting on the above essay. See them here. Especially interesting for me, is his statement:

Our only concern is that far too often artists that literally work outside the gallery still work within it conceptually due to internalizing the ideological and discursive constructs of the professional art system. They bracket off portions of their lives and list them as “projects” or “works” on their resumes, they “document” their explorations into so-called conviviality, etc. Of course, doing this is not inherently a problem, but doing so without understanding, and making explicit, the complications and contradictions of doing so, is.

I agree. In a sense, I think that what LeisureArts emphasises in this paragraph pretty much corresponds with what I intend in my essay. My point is that the blog as an “artform” offers the possibility to reflect on the complications and contradictions of “bracketing off part of one’s life off as an art project”. The argument would be that the blog-as-art (since it is intrinsicly language-oriented) at the very least gives you the possibility to carry out this reflection within the artwork itself. Whether a particular blog actually does this is another matter. Of course, I would argue that both Bilateral Kellerberrin and Bilateral Petersham successfully manage to do this critical self-reflection (and I would love to hear what others think about that).

I’m interested in this idea from LeisureArts – that working outside the gallery physically does not always mean working outside of it conceptually. There is definitely “street cred” to be gained by artists going on “field trips” in the “real world” – even though the work is not presented in a physical art gallery, it is perhaps published and discussed within the art-world (art magazines journals etc) and thus is very much capital-A “Art”. The framing device of the art gallery is replaced by the framing device of art-world publicity channels.

I think this was addressed very thoroughly by Alexander Alberro in his book Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity. Alberro looks at the practice of Seth Siegelaub, an art entrepreneur active in the late 1960s who was involved in promoting the work of Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth and Lawrence Weiner amongst others. Alberro considers the way the non-gallery artwork of these artists parallels the development of advertising in the 1960s, and the tendency of capitalism away from factory-produced objects, and towards an “information-economy”.

There’s this idea that circulates that the famed dematerialization of the art object offered an alternative to the pervasive commodification of objects. But Siegelaub’s curatorial practice demonstrated that you could, in fact, offer and sell shares in the production of dematerialized (and often completely invisible) artworks. The only way, as an investor-patron, you would even know the artworks you had “purchased” actually existed, would be that Siegelaub and the artist would issue you with a certification of authenticity. In addition, the “transgressive” nature of these artworks actually increased their art-world capital.

Sometimes I feel that in his blog, LeisureArts can be a little over the top in wanting art practitioners and theorists to work outside the artworld as a context for activity -outside, even the entire context of art (as defined by Alberro above) … It is as if LeisureArts believes that the artworld is intrinsicly an impoverished realm, compared to the “real world”… as if the artworld is not “real”.

However, I think in fact, that I am perhaps misconstruing his position.

Probably he is simply frustrated (as I often am) by artists whose rhetoric of “inclusivity” and “action in the real world” often translates as a brief foray “out there” to carry out a quick “symbolic action” whose “aestheticised” results are exhibited – in exchange for art world kudos – in galleries. (We gotta be careful though, as ’tis often difficult to back up these wild and cranky generalisations with a good example. )

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