Art, Architecture and Visual Culture

The Peterlee Project
Sanja Perovic

This chapter considers Brisley’s pioneering Peterlee Project: History Within Living Memory (1976–77). Peterlee is a town that was built after the second world war in the former mining region of the North East of England. As part of his placement with the Peterlee Development Corporation, Brisley helped the town’s inhabitants to document their own collective history in the effort to create a platform for future political action. This chapter evaluates the project’s successes and failures to recover the point at which performance ceases to be a ‘live proposal’ and becomes instead a collectible or archivable object.

in Performance art and revolution
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Collections, archives, museums
Sanja Perovic

This chapter asks what happens in the aftermath of an incomplete or failed attempt at revolutionary rupture, when the past has been declared dead yet continues to survive, either as detritus to be disregarded or as remains to be collected and preserved. The Georgiana Collection and the Museum of Ordure are Stuart Brisley’s longest durational works, consisting solely of detritus and waste. This chapter considers how Brisley’s self-instituted collections can shed new light on the aftermath of the French Revolution, when revolutionary rupture also gave rise to new institutions, including the Louvre, the world’s first museum established in the name of the people. For a cut in time does not just destroy an old past, it also creates a new one, a dynamic still reflected in art collections and practices today.

in Performance art and revolution
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In and out of conceptual art
Alexander Alberro

Beginning in April 1970, Adrian Piper executed a series of unannounced actions in New York City that she called Catalysis. The artist moved through public and private spaces confronting unsuspecting passers-by, having conspicuously stuffed her mouth with a towel while leaving parts of it protruding, or wearing odorous clothing or substances on her body, or with balloons bulging from various parts of her frame under her attire, or carrying a ‘wet paint’ sign over a shirt soaked in sticky white enamel. The street actions were meant to provoke Piper’s unwitting audience, and have been interpreted as the crucial link between the artist’s conceptual work and her later, more political interventions that address race and gender objectification, passive and active transactions, otherness, identity, and xenophobia. Piper has on several occasions attributed this shift in her work to the highly charged events of the period that promoted her growing political awareness and engagement ‘as an artist, as a woman, and black’. This chapter proposes that this perspective, while not wrong, is too limited, and argues that the spatial relations that characterised Piper’s 1970s actions and performances also evolve logically from the notion of space as a medium that the artist had developed in her conceptual art of the late 1960s.

in Charting space
Inesa Brašiškė

Shortly after relocating to Paris in the late 1960s, the Romanian artist André Cadere embarked on his seminal artistic venture known as Barres de bois rond (Round Bars of Wood), a collection of wooden cylinders painted in bright colours and arranged following a permutational system set in advance. Moreover, the size of each bar was determined by the artist’s own body, while their circular shape allowed them to be exhibited in a number of spatial circumstances. Specific morphological features of these colourful sticks, or unlimited paintings, as Cadere once called them, were conceived with a programme in mind – to slip ‘everywhere, through the streets, galleries, houses, museums, etc …’ and thus challenge the art establishment and its power dynamics. In this chapter, I look at a spatial relationship between a bar and its support, as well as analysing an elaborate system of mapping, including announcements, photographs and communiqués, that Cadere produced in order to record and communicate his whereabouts. I claim that by introducing a mobile, rather than a site-specific, situation as a critical vehicle, Cadere captured the crux of institutional power as the art world was undergoing paradigmatic infrastructural, logistical and communicational changes in becoming an ‘international labyrinth’ that increasingly relied on the mobility of the artists rather than the artworks.

in Charting space
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Mapping out (social) spaces of representation in conceptual art
Eve Kalyva

Mathematical and cartographical systems became increasingly popular amongst conceptual artists. Apart from the dialogue between the arts and the sciences at the time, many artists turned to better-defined reference systems as a way of criticising the art establishment and socio-political reality. They sought to push the limits of traditional art forms, interrogate the scope of art and the nature of representation, and examine how social space is constructed. Using three case studies – Art & Language’s Map to not Indicate (1967), David Lamelas’s A Study of the Relationships between Inner and Outer Space (1969) and Juan Carlos Romero’s 4,000,000 m2 of the City of Buenos Aires (1970) – this chapter explores how space, and in particular social space, is mapped out in conceptual art. It considers cartographic framing and binary juxtapositions between inside/outside and art/non-art, and examines how artworks position the artist and the viewer in relation to institutional, physical and social environments. A further concern is dislocation: how do works that closely engage their context remain meaningful and critical elsewhere? While reproducible, ‘dematerialised’ conceptual artworks circulated through global networks, transregionality is today a key characteristic of contemporary art. With this in mind, this chapter seeks to determine the spatio-temporal locality of art and its limits.

in Charting space
A modest proposal to decolonise Ireland
Christa- Maria Lerm Hayes

This chapter is devoted to two works by Patrick Ireland, a pseudonym adopted for his visual art practice by emigrant Irish, New York-based Brian O’Doherty in 1972, in response to Bloody Sunday. Both are modified maps: Ireland: A Modest Proposal (1980) and Studies on O.S. maps for the Purgatory of Humphrey Chimpden Earwicher Humunculus Rope Drawing #73 (1985). The early 1980s were a violent time on the island of Ireland, marked by bombs and hunger strikes. The title of the first work quotes Jonathan Swift’s 1792 proposal for the children of the starving (Catholic) population of Ireland to be used as meat for fricassee. Patrick Ireland’s equivalent is to ‘amputate’ Northern Ireland and place the population (i.e. map sections) in the centre of the island. The caption speaks of ‘increased fishing opportunities’ and ‘encouraging dialogue’. The critique constituted by the second work is more complex, but no less pointed: being invited by Trinity College Dublin to exhibit presented a conundrum for Brian O’Doherty, as the college only began to admit Catholics in 1979. ‘O.S.’ in the title refers to the Ordnance Survey, the British colonial enterprise of mapping (thus owning) Ireland. Patrick Ireland presents Trinity College Dublin as ‘purgatory’ and references James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. The chapter will show how in these maps the artist uses his home country’s geography, politics and culture (literature and Ogham writing) to destabilise the colonial enterprise and imaginatively intervene in its violent aftermath."

in Charting space
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The cartographies of conceptual art
Editor:

By the late 1960s cartographic formats and spatial information were a recurring feature in many conceptualist artworks. While maps have received some scholarly attention, Charting space offers a rich study of conceptualism’s mapping practices that includes more expanded forms of spatial representations. Departing from the perspective that artists were merely recording and communicating information, this book expands on the philosophical and political imperatives within their artistic practices. The volume brings together twelve in-depth case studies that address artists’ engagement with matters of space at a time when concepts of space garnered new significance in art, theory and culture. It covers a diverse range of subjects, such as London’s socio-spatial sphere in the 1970s, geopolitics and decoloniality in Brazil, the global networking strategies of the Psychophysiology Research Institute in Japan, the subjective body in relation to cosmological space from the Great Basin Desert in the United States, and notions of identity and race in the urban itinerant practices of transnational artists. Together the chapters shed fresh light on an evident ‘spatial turn’ from the postwar period into the contemporary, and the influence of larger historical, social and cultural contexts upon it. The contributors illustrate how conceptualism’s cartographies were critical sites in formulating artists’ politics, graphing heterogeneous spaces and upsetting prevailing systems.

Dária Jaremtchuk

Since the 1960s, Anna Bella Geiger has redesigned and reconceptualised spaces. Beginning with her images of human entrails, alterations in the composition of internal organs show the suppression and control exercised over bodies. With the arrival of man on the moon and the expansion of the edges of the planet, new formats of spatial projections entered Geiger’s poetics and expanded her interest in new areas of knowledge. Since then, a poetic and political topography has developed in her career, in which the representations and conventions of formats and boundaries are denaturalised and make way for a new type of arbitrary typology. Additionally, her own works expanded spatially and reshaped her interest in new artistic media, such as videos, mail art etc. What I propose here is to analyse Geiger’s production in the 1970s, in which the altered scale of her maps reveals economic and political powers, as it still engages the themes of national borders and the restriction of movement across them. This study will show that, on the landscape of the global artistic community, these subjects continue to be timely – even if on different scales.

in Charting space
From Hélio Oiticica to Rasheed Araeen and Lee Wen
Eva Bentcheva
and
María José Martínez Sanchez

This chapter revisits the notion of Delirium ambulatorium conceived by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica in 1978. It describes Oiticica’s interest in the simple act of wandering or walking through different areas of a city, particularly the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Here, Delirium ambulatorium consisted of the act of identifying the elements that compose the city and the subsequent generation of creative situations around these elements. Looking beyond Delirium ambulatorium in Oiticica’s own practice, this chapter considers its relevance as a methodology for artists working transnationally with conceptual art as mapping. It draws connections to approaches by diasporic artists – particularly from South and Southeast Asia – who carried out artistic walks (accompanied by material and documentary interventions) during the 1960s and 1990s amidst heightened moments of racial and postcolonial discourses. These include UK-based Rasheed Araeen (b. 1938, Karachi, Pakistan) who undertook photo-documented journeys through London’s transport infrastructure (Christmas Day, 1979) and sites of workers’ strikes and anti-racism protests (Paki Bastard (Portrait of the Artist as a Black Person), 1977–8), as well as Lee Wen’s (1957–2019, Singapore) performance-series Journey of a Yellow Man (1992–2012), in which he video-documented himself walking through cities with his body painted yellow. In light of such works, this paper explores Delirium ambulatorium as representative of a shared philosophy and methodology of transnational ‘conceptual mapping’ between the 1960s and the 1990s. 

in Charting space
Approaches to the conceptual art of Gábor Attalai
Katalin Cseh-Varga

This chapter examines the multifaceted work of Hungarian artist Gábor Attalai, the importance of countercartographic strategies in his conceptual works, and its profound contextualisation within the cultural and political setting of socialist Hungary in the early-to-mid 1970s. In the early 1970s Attalai produced process-based artworks that have a certain continuity in respect to spatial subversion. The work Continental Change transforms the atlas, an act of deconstruction and construction that drew new contours for countries and continents in a counterhegemonic manner. Here the countries and continents equal geopolitical entities of power as well as ideology that Attalai disregards with his map collage. Using three case studies – Balding, Snow Works and Continental Change I and II – the chapter reveals Attalai’s tendency towards spatial modification, which is read as a series of spatial interventions on three levels: the body, urban space and map collages. The chapter will show how these modifications were a plea against (political) fixations of space and place.

in Charting space