Gregory Sholette - Creative Dark Matter - Carlos Basualdo

The panel discussion "Dark matter into light" focuses on an exhibition (Cram Sessions: 02 Dark Matter at the Baltimore Museum of Art organized by Chris Gilbert) of creative "dark matter" as Gregory Sholette calls it. We've written about Sholette before and found this discussion to be of some interest.
Gilbert summarizes the terrain of Sholette's dark matter as:
"home-crafts, makeshift memorials, Internet art galleries, amateur photography and pornography, Sunday-painters, self-published newsletters and fan-zines" as well as "artists who self-consciously work outside and/or against the parameters of the mainstream art world for reasons of political and social critique."

This is a fairly adequate summary of what we intend "infra-institutional" to mean in our self-description. The discussion highlights many of the paradoxes of making such activities public. One of the biggest challenges for people engaged in such activities (or at least the ones who have a critical relationship to their "production") is finding the appropriate venue. We have written extensively about many people finding themselves in the art world by default rather than design. Curators, critics, historians, and the practitioners themselves, have yet to develop the proper intellectual tools for the job, or as Carlos Basualdo put it:
"For while we do have a highly sophisticated vocabulary to talk about art objects and about those objects in relationship to a certain genealogy of other objects and actions to which they are related, it is more difficult to talk about these artists and groups that, although they do not seem to completely reject the museum and gallery space and although they sometimes exhibit the results of their work in these spaces, ultimately don't produce art objects in the traditional sense. I think that one of the challenges for the curators who are trying to deal with that situation, with that schism, and with these new forms of production is to develop a critical vocabulary of some sort that is still related to the art-historical legacy, that accounts for those works that ultimately do not quite fit within the parameters of traditional art history. A vocabulary that would itself mediate between the demands of these evolving practices and the information contained in the art-historical discourse."

Without this new vocabulary, we find ourselves forced to utilize spaces, terms, and modes of display that aren't appropriate to the activities being presented. We are continually caught in theoretical digressions that only come into play because creative dark matter so often finds itself recognized in the most facile ways by the institutions of the art world. This is best exemplified perhaps, by the profusion of "social practices" which so often treat the field of dark matter merely as a thematic. What could be a radical perspective on the very idea of art production (dark matter), too often exists merely as an internal critique. For more on this notion, see the posts Baudrillard - LeisureArts - Labor/Value and Baudrillard - "as art" relational art - Kaprow.