ADDITIONAL MATERIAL HERE:
Claire Bishop - Aesthetic/Ethical - Critical Modalities
Maria Lind - Tactical/Agnostic - Ted Purves
Grant Kester - Artforum - Claire Bishop [The Continuing Saga]
This quote from IC-98 is an incredibly important document in the discussion of new "art" practices:
"IC-98 (”Iconoclast 1998”) was founded in 1998 as a reaction to the
restrictions of academic writing. From the beginning, the group has tried to act as freely as possible, always putting the context and the idea before the medium, and the group-subject before the individual, never minding the barriers between different disciplines (academic, artistic or activist). In practice, the world of contemporary art has proved to be the most flexible environment for diverse projects, being a free zone of experimentation within the society at large. Though the label ART has an enormous power to neutralize any message, and regardless of the fact that art world increasingly resembles the high fashion industry, it nonetheless offers possibilities to put forward ideas without the preconditions of academic work (rules, objectivity), the market (surplus value, capitalist modes of distribution), or activism (the threat of dogmatism). In fact, in IC-98’s idealist-pragmatic programme the projects are labeled art only for strategic reasons – the strategy works as long as the concepts of art do not come to dominate the discourse. The same applies to the individuals working in the group: you call yourself artist, just because it is institutionally convenient, [emphasis mine] because the very concept of ARTIST is obscure."
I think it is something that frames an interesting challenge to conventional attempts at finding critical positions relevant to so-called new art practices. Claire Bishop has written extensively about "relational" practices and most recently in the 2/06 ARTFORUM. In The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents she rightly argues that we need more critical models for understanding this work than the mostly "ethical" perspectives in circulation. I think she misses something very important however, namely, that many of these practices might be better served by not considering them via art critical methodologies at all. There are a number of forms of cultural production that might call for new theoretical tools to interpret properly. Like IC-98, I suspect there are many people operating in the domain of art discourse because they have nowhere else to go, even though their interest in connections to an art historical lineage is ancillary at best. In Depth Perception in the 3/06 ARTFORUM, Matthew Stadler provides a glimpse of what may be ahead in his discussion of Red76. Ultimately he touches on the "indifference" I am describing and lays out a vision for "the new territory we are faced with." I am hopeful that we are moving in that direction.
This notion is being fleshed out here as well.