curated by Elena Filipovic
(selected through apexart’s Unsolicited Proposal Process)
Artists: Michel Blazy, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Gabriel Kuri, Oksana Pasaiko, Tomo Savic-Gecan, Joëlle Tuerlinckx
In 1969, Gordon Matta-Clark laid out large sheets of agar (the gelatinous remains of boiled algae) to which he added mixtures of such substances as vegetable juice, chicken bouillon, mold, trash, and various unmentionables. The air-dried results, a series of reliefs with scuttled surfaces and still chemically mutating materials, were hung from ropes and first shown as a group. Museum was the title that the artist gave to the ensemble.1 What better name, after all, than Museum? The unsightly organic assemblages, as volatile in their materiality as they were unpredictable in their shifting visual form, defied the usual definitions of the artwork and the museological object-
that precious thing to be protected and conserved for posterity. Matta-Clark had given each work in the series a title of its own, but to call the group Museum was more than to ironically evoke the institution, it was to underscore the unconscionable distance separating the series from its namesake; it was to demonstrate that the premises of the museum and those of Museum stood so far apart that the two could never meet or agree. The chemical volatility of most all of the pieces determined that they would never stabilize, never behave like bona fide art objects, and indeed never enter the museum. And as an ensemble-as Museum—they never did.2 The series thus reveals that the rethinking of (good) form through the rethinking of the (seemingly stable, eternal) duration of the artwork was aimed at “Art” as much as it was at the institutions meant to show it.
In more recent times, artists’ production of objects of various mediums largely conforms to art’s traditional aspirations to everlastingness (after all, artworks, like memorials, are meant to be eternal and unchanging). Their messages might be radical and their intentions critical, but their aesthetic forms are all too often fixed forever. Let Everything be Temporary, or When is the Exhibition? brings together the work of a group of artists that consistently and very differently explore temporariness and, more specifically, the possibility of temporal instability in the work of art.3 This is manifest not so much as a subject (although it is sometimes also that), but rather as a constitutive element, shaping the artwork’s fragility as well as the indeterminacy of an exhibition visitor’s experience of it. Whether primarily motivated by the political, aesthetic, economic, or the intimate, these objects literally perform their temporal questioning. This project, rather than being a theme show with a series of singular illustrations of an idea, instead aims to reveal a persistent questioning at the center of these artists’ practices; it endeavors as well to suggest that in these practices might be found some of the most salient questions being asked concerning the limits and nature of art today.