During a career that spanned more than forty years, from the late 1960s until his death in 2012, Michael Asher created site-specific installations and institutional interventions that examined the conditions of art’s production, display, and reception. At the Art Institute of Chicago, for example, he famously relocated a bronze replica of an eighteenth-century sculpture of George Washington from the museum’s entrance to an interior gallery, thereby highlighting the disjunction between the statue’s symbolic function as a public monument and its aesthetic origins as an artwork. Today, Asher is celebrated as one of the forerunners of institutional critique. Yet because of Asher’s situation-based method of working, and his resistance to making objects that could circulate in the art market, few of his works survive in physical form. What does survive is writing by scholars and critics about his diverse practice. The essays in this volume document projects that range from Asher’s environmental works and museum displacements to his research-based presentations and reflections on urban space.
Contributors: Michael Asher, Sandy Ballatore, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Jennifer King, Miwon Kwon, Barbara Munger, Stephan Pascher, Birgit Pelzer, Anne Rorimer, Allan Sekula
- Michael Asher (October Files)
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Céline Condorelli (Ed.)
Essays by Bart De Baere, Céline Condorelli, Mark Cousins, Wouter Davidts, Jean-Claude Lebensztejn, Andrea Phillips, Jaime Stapleton, Jan Verwoert, Eyal Weizman & Rony Brauman
With works by Michael Asher, Artist Placement Group, Can Altay, Conrad Atkinson, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan, Banu Cennetoglu, Christopher D’Arcangelo, Martin Beck, Cevdet Erek, Andrea Fraser, Buckminster Fuller, Ryan Gander, Ella Gibbs, Frederick Kiesler, Lucy Kimbell, James Langdon, El Lissitzky, Peter Nadin, The offices of Peter Fend, Coleen Fitzgibbon, Jenny Holzer, Peter Nadin, Richard Prince & Robin Winters,” Gordon Matta-Clark, Antoni Muntadas, Lilly Reich, Support Structure, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Lawrence Weiner, Christopher Williams, Carey Young, a.o.
Support Structures is a manual for what bears, sustains, and props, for those things that encourage, care for, and assist; for that which advocates, articulates; for what stands behind, frames, and maintains: it is a manual for those things that give support. While the work of supporting might traditionally appear as subsequent, unessential, and lacking value in itself, this manual is an attempt to restore attention to one of the neglected, yet crucial modes through which we apprehend and shape the world.
Support Structures is a critical enquiry into what constitutes “support,” and documents the collaborative project “Support Structure” by Céline Condorelli and Gavin Wade. While registering and collecting reference projects in a new archive of support structures alongside its ten-phase project, different writers, thinkers, and practitioners were invited from various fields to elaborate on frameworks and work on texts , which form the theoretical backbone of the publication. The collection of contributions offers different possibilities for engaging in this unchartered territory, from propositions to projects, existing systems to ones invented for specific creative processes.
Support Structures offers support through potential methodologies, inspirations and activations for practice, and addresses important questions for art and architecture practices on forms of display, organization, articulation, appropriation, autonomy, and temporariness, and the manifestations of blindness towards them.
Produced in co-production with Support Structure:
Celine Condorelli and Gavin Wade with James Langdon
Design by James Langdon
- Support Structures
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The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago January 21-March 4, 1990
“The dwelling, the walls, the windows, the roof, the furniture, the pictures, the ornaments, the dress, the fence or hedge-all act constantly upon the imagination and determine its contents.”
— Charles Henderson
In 1990, Asher, armed with his characteristic incisive wit and critical intellect, set out to dig through the historical foundations of the Renaissance Society’s Bergman Gallery at the University of Chicago. This exhibition marks Asher’s shift from physically altering gallery spaces to using text and documentation as a manifestation of the ideological backgrounds for exhibitions. Revealing the underlying intellectual and social coordinates of the Society by juxtaposing writings from early University of Chicago scholars of the American Arts and Crafts Movement with the U.S. patent numbers for various gallery fixtures, Asher’s exhibition was a brilliant contribution to the movement of institutional critique.
With detailed and thorough reproductions of the installation alongside scholarly essays by Birgit Pelzer and Anne Rorimer, this publication offers an intensive analysis of Asher’s project for the Renaissance Society. It is an essential addition to the library of anyone with an interest in museum studies or site-specific art practices.
- Michael Asher - The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago January 21-March 4, 1990
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An Anthology of Artists' Writings
“Institutional critique” is an artistic practice that reflects critically on its own housing in galleries and museums and on the concept and social function of art itself. Such concerns have always been a part of modern art but took on new urgency at the end of the 1960s, when–driven by the social upheaval of the time and enabled by the tools and techniques of conceptual art–institutional critique emerged as a genre. This anthology traces the development of institutional critique as an artistic concern from the 1960s to the present by gathering writings and representative art projects of artists from across Europe and throughout the Americas who developed and extended the genre. The texts and artworks included are notable for the range of perspectives and positions they reflect and for their influence in pushing the boundaries of what is meant by institutional critique. Like Alberro and Stimson’s Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology this volume will shed new light on its subject through its critical and historical framing. Even readers already familiar with institutional critique will come away from this book with a greater and often redirected understanding of its significance.Artists represented include Wieslaw Borowski, Daniel Buren, Marcel Broodthaers, Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel, Hans Haacke, Robert Smithson, John Knight, Graciela Carnevale, Osvaldo Mateo Boglione, Guerilla Art Action Group, Art Workers’ Coalition, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Michael Asher, Mel Ramsden, Adrian Piper, The Guerrilla Girls, Laibach, Silvia Kolbowski, Andrea Fraser, Fred Wilson, Mark Dion, Maria Eichhorn, Critical Art Ensemble, Bureau d’Etudes, WochenKlausur, The Yes Men, Hito Steyerl, Andreas Siekmann.
- Institutional Critique
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