The Force at work / La Force en action

The Force at work / La Force en action
Read the whole story now being read around the world! / Lisez toute l'histoire maintenant lue autour du monde!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Thing About Anarchy

 THE FIFTH ESTATE Dreamworks new movie about JULIAN ASSANGE's rise and fall as the brains behind Wikileaks is a fast paced drama with a lot of style. The score is very contemporary and sustains the visual design of the film that is right out of our computer screens. Certain scenes evoke the work of New York based artist JENNY HOLTZER as words and events swirl on the screen. Emotions are expressed using the visual language of contemporary art like the scene where everything is unravelling between the two lead characters, Julian Assange and Daniel Berg AKA DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG, played by DANIEL BRÜHL, the latter finds himself in a large office space filled with work desks, a recurrent motif in the film, but the ceiling is blown away by menacing storm clouds. I enjoyed the whole project under the direction of BILL CONDON. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, well known for his modern interpretation of the classic Sherlock Holmes, does justice to the complex person that is Julian Assange, a person with a troubled youth and good intentions who nonetheless does not hesitate to compromise others security to attain his own goals. At a deeper level the movie had me questioning the whole point of anarchy because too often the anarchist becomes the new institution and the new executioner.

It must be noted that the film is based on Daniel Domscheit-Berg's book "Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website" and DAVID LEIGH and LUKE HARDING's book "WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy". Julian Assange asked Benedict Cumberbatch to not play him in the movie, and also opposed the contents of the books mentionned.


Christopher D'Archangelo, Peter Nadin, Daniel Buren- Wall Street circa 1978

I begin my visit to ANARCHISM WITHOUT ADJECTIVES: ON THE WORK OF CHRISTOPHER D’ARCANGELO, 1975-1979 in the enclosed space furthest from the entrance at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery on the Concordia University campus. On the wall to my left as I face the video installation screening hands, I read the descriptions of the rules of engagement for what constitutes Conceptual Art. Even anarchists must exist within the boundaries of specific conventions.

My mind thus refreshed I began listening to SILVIA KOLBOWSKI 1998/1999 video ‘an inadequate history of conceptual art’. The version displayed at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery is an excerpt of a much longer work. The artist had invited 60 artists who had been active during the historical period of Conceptual Art from 1965 to 1975 to describe a piece without giving their names, the names of the artists that they would talk about, or the titles of the pieces they were describing. 40 artists responded to the request. As I listened to the stories, of which I no longer remember the details, I was reminded of a childhood experience that occurred every time we would travel long distances in the family car. An adult interview would be playing on the car radio and I found myself listening to the adult voices describing adult scenarios without any beginning and there were never any ends. I was drawn in by the voices and the images the stories conjured up even if I could not quite get what they were talking about.

My next stop was at one of the 6-computer screen installations in the entrance hall. Very engrossed people with open notebooks already occupied most screens. Once I put my earphones on I could relate to their frame of mind. I was listening to BENJAMIN H.D. BUCHLOH, a German art historian now associated with Harvard University, describe the importance of D’Arcangelo’s work and philosophies and how the same questions he had asked himself and the world in the 1970s still needed to be asked today. I experienced the same absorbing effect at each video installation. Other personalities featured are STEPHEN ANTONAKOS, NAOMI SPECTOR, BEN KINMONT, LAWRENCE WEINER, DANIEL BUREN and PETER NADIN who were friends and collaborators of D’Arcangelo and who are now both well established artists.

Also participating in the show are PIERRE BAL-BLANC, SOPHIE BÉLAIR CLÉMENT, SIMON BROWN, PIERRE LEGUILLON, FRANÇOIS LEMIEUX, ÉMILIE PARENDEAU, NICOLINE VAN HARSKAMP and RAINER OLDENDORF who presents a large painting made in collaboration with Concordia University and UQAM students.

The exhibition is an ongoing work inaugurated at the CAC Brétigny in 2011. In this installment, the curators DEAN INKSTER and SÉBASTIEN PLUOT collaborated with MICHÈLE THÉRIAULT to invite local and international artists, some already involved in the initial project, to contribute original or new works to continue the conversation on the contemporary significance raised by Christopher D’Arcangelo’s practice.

D’Arcangelo was concerned that his work for survival outside the boundaries of creating art should be included into his art practice. He earned a living as a carpenter and contractor renovating lofts in New York City. He achieved the integration of his two careers by creating detailed archives of the home renovation projects he did with Peter Nadin. When the projects were completed they would invite people to the "show". For this reason D'Arcangelo's work is only accessible through archives.

All this being said, I cannot help leaving the show with the sense that D’Arcangelo has once again been left out of the institution of art. For all his anarchic behavior, he was expressing a deep desire to belong to the art world. That is where he manifested his frustrations, where he subversively inserted his art, and where he was dragged away from. The art world does not look kindly on wannabes, which is probably what the experts of those times thought of him and his interventions. However now that he is gone, the experts can apply their own speculations and spins on what he intended to say, accomplish or become. He left us too young and under much too tragic circumstances to put his own original concepts into the larger context of the complex world of art and politics. Now professionals who are well integrated in the institutional art world against which he was protesting are forming conclusions for him, earning a good living in the process, producing clean conceptual art that merely echoes the original ardor the artist stood for. Some professionals are teaching the rebellious concepts to current art students who are not out breaking stifling rules or questioning them, they are safely taking notes from the establishment and acting along already defined parameters.

The show is on until October 26 2013


No comments:

Post a Comment