Saturday, July 30, 2011

revisiting: Jörg Heiser interviewed by Art & Research:

A&R: "In the introduction to your new book, All of a Sudden: Things that Matter in Contemporary Art you content that ‘… in contemporary art, the emphasis has shifted from biography and medium to method and situation.’ (Intro, p. 5) - a statement which echoes in part the position of overviews of contemporary art such as Claire Doherty’s Contemporary Art: From Studio to Situation (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2004) – and that we must approach the analysis of contemporary art, therefore, not through simplifying questions of medium, but through exploring artists' methodologies (the method of slapstick, for example). Your foregrounding of artists’ methods would seem to speak to contemporary questions surrounding ‘artistic research’. To what extent, in your view, do debates on ‘artistic research’ count among the ‘things that matter’ in contemporary art?"

JH: "It’s a little tricky. Research as such is not an achievement, and artists impersonating scientists, ethnologists or sociologists have to be careful not to a) underestimate the discourse in these respective fields they are tapping into, and b) keep in mind what they do their research for. Like one could get carried away with self-referential questions of the specificities of a medium – ‘New Media Art’ that becomes techy-nerdy in an unproductive, or even oppressive way; or abstract painting that becomes merely tautological and plainly dull – it is equally problematic to be absorbed by the mere aura, or political gravitas, of the material one encounters in the course of one’s research. You can see the effect of that in press releases that highlight that an artist explored this social context or did research on that obscure 1950s phenomenon, without bothering to argue whether the artist then managed to do anything productive with that artistically. If an artist did great research, say, on a case of corruption, why don’t they – to put it very bluntly – do a good reportage rather than a crappy installation, i.e. chose the appropriate context and method to communicate? A productive methodology would be then to remember what really mattered, which I think (in generalising terms) is to remember what art can bring to that research; a sense of form, of perceptive qualities, and conceptual reflection – which would be precisely its political stake in this."

(read the full interview here)

No comments: