Sunday, January 17, 2010

Immaterialism Revisted

The Times profile on Tino Sehgal, in discussing his pure detachment from object based art, places the artist in a place near altruism. There's a broad difference between objectless and selfless art. This is not life without headstones. It is formal withholding, anal retention as art, a form that thrives by word of mouth. It counts on interaction, like the work of Rirkrit Tiravanija. Vanessa Beecroft, who, as a young bulimic, color coded her meals to ensure complete purgation. Less minimal than Erik Satie, who only ate white foods.
Food and waste occupy similar social concerns as those presented by most conceptual art. Though like Manzoni, most conceptual artists seem to regard the art object as waste. This is different from the confusion of what was once deemed high and low present in Warhol and Jeff Koons. This is an assertion about mortality. Chris Burden, aka Joe the Lion or Johnny Knoxville's illegitimate uncle,confronts that assertion directly.
Linguistic conceptualists, like Bruce Nauman, while object bound, manage to address the social position of the artist and the social dysfunction at heart in the issues of creation and illumination. Nauman in particular does this with a whit and detachment that keeps a viewer from confusing the art with the artist, a separateness that perfects the object while keeping it from becoming precious.

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