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    artists with cosmologies

    CJO and I are thinking about going to see Drawing Restraint No. 9, the Matthew Barney / Bjork collaboration, this Sunday, as a sort of Easter treat.

    I've been thinking about Barney a lot lately, as well as Matthew Ritchie, another artist who undergirds his work with an ultra-complex personal cosmology. There's more artists working in this vein, too: in Proposition Player, Matthew Ritchie ticks off a whole series of artists who use "cosmologies and mythologies" as tools, including Liam Gillick, Gregor Schneider, Manfred Pernice, Andrea Zittel, Kara Walker, Katy Schimert, Michael Grey, and Michael Rees.

    Ritchie talks about how these artists end up using "complex titling and installation strategies" as decoders or partial decoders of these cosmologies; a tradition that I'd argue begins with Marcel Duchamp's "Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even" (1915-1923) (and its corresponding decoder The Green Box). I think the Drawing Restraint website serves as a kind of extension of this idea, in that it provides a kind of quasi-theoretical underpinning for both the film and the drawings generated using restraints #1-8 (inclusive).

    I wonder if these "cosmological" artworks aren't making a bid, a possibly conscious one, to "trump" two of the major art movements of the last fifty years, namely Abstract Expressionism and Conceptual Art. The emphasis on backstory / underlying concept adds a sort of intellectual or conceptual value to an artwork like a Matthew Ritchie painting, which might otherwise appear to be a garden-variety "contentless" Abstract Expressionist piece; yet the emphasis on physical-objectness and its related aesthetic traditons (such as "craft") adds material value to an artwork like a Matthew Barney vitrine, reversing the Conceptual-Art-ish emphasis on works that "lack traditional signs of authenticity or permanence" (as this blurb for Martha Buskirk's Contingent Object of Contemporary Art puts it).

    A perhaps more cogent way of thinking about this is to see it as a manifestation of the larger pattern of (material) "property" everywhere being overwritten with a layer of (immaterial) "intellectual property." Barney, Ritchie, etc. create works that function on both levels—the material and the immaterial—simultaneously, which makes them both appealing and interesting as artworks, but also invests them with twice as much capitalist value. Somewhere in here is the reason why Barney won't release the Cremaster films on DVD...

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    Friday, April 14, 2006
    1:42 PM


    There was a large article on the Bjork / Barney collaboration in last Sunday's NYTimes Art Section. I'm too lazy to link it right now.
    I'm betting it's the first link in the post. Thanks, though!
    I dislike this trend, personally, but want to point out that Keith Rowe is doing something similar with his paintings, which have often been used as album covers for AMM and his more recent work.

    I don't remember all the details, but do know that yellow always "means" AMM.
    Hmm. So the colors in Rowe's paintings are all "codes" for something else? That's interesting, and makes me appreciate the Rowe paintings more (they always struck me as unhappily "flat," especially given the rich, grainy "texturedness" of Rowe's guitar-work).
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