“In Case” He Yida solo show text

He Yida solo show

C-Space, Beijing

9 March 2013

The works in this show have come about through a steady process of placement and refinement by He Yida. The final installations project a feeling of extreme intention in the experience of their arrangements.

The process of the work moves from the selection of material, their arrangements in relation to each other, and their positioning with respect to the spaces. Overall there is an emphasis on the works’ relationship with the floor (rather than a hanging relationship with the wall or ceiling), as they spread out along that plane, or rise up from it. The effect is of a sense of flatness in the planes and tenuousness in the upright structures. The elements of the structures are ready-made for other purposes, variously adjusted with painted additions. Each material adjusts the effect of the other materials they are placed in a relationship with: the hardness of the metal bar stands in contrast to the softness of the elastic strip that is wrapped around it; this wrapping conceals and reveals various parts, playing the materials off each other, changing the perception of the materials and their arrangements as they are viewed from different angles.

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quick! get that brand an art-historian!

Quoted by Beijing fashion blog STYLITES:

“According to Lacoste, the above green polo and several other items in the collection take ‘inspiration from optical art, recalling the work of Victor Vaserely or Daniel Buren with the coriander green ultra slim-fit polo with white striped concentric boxes radiating out around the crocodile logo or the navy blue crew-neck sweater with zig-zag white stripes. It’s New Wave, mathematical and very optical.'”

Daniel Buren as “optical art”? Genius. And they misspelt Vasarely.

Seth Siegelaub

Seth Siegelaub: It was my lack of economic means and l’air du temps which created the relationship that existed between the kinds of shows I did and the artists with whom I was involved. It was an attempt to get away from the gallery because my feeling at the time, as it is now in the case of publishing, is that a space becomes sacralised. The economics of the situation is such that you need to fill a space with eight or ten shows a year, and it is inconceivable that you can do that and remain interested in all of the work you show. You didn’t run a gallery, the gallery ran you – it was just another form of alienated work experience. The gallery came to determine the art to the extent that painters would paint paintings to fit the walls of their dealer.*

  • Buren, Daniel and Siegelaub, Seth (1988/89). May 68 and all that. Interviewed by: Claura, Michel and Dusinberre, Deke. In Bickers, Patricia and Wilson, Andrew, eds. Talking Art: Interviews with artists since 1976. London: Ridinghouse 2007, p.298.

Buren—Lyotard—The Written Word

Although it’s not clear if this is a direct response to Lyotard’s exploration of his work (Lyotard, 1979; Lyotard, 1981) Buren made his own statement about why he produces texts and what purposes these texts serve.

This piece, Why Write? comes across as almost reductively prosaic in its presentation of the facts of writing that Buren considers relevant. The types of writing that he undertakes are literally enumerated and defined: 1 Necessity, 2 Urgency, 3 Reflection, 4 Commissions, and, 5 Pleasure.

He states that “what a visual work has to ‘say,’ if anything, cannot be reduced to any other ‘saying.’” (Buren, 1982, p.109) The act of writing and its remnant, the text, are disabused of the function of complementing the work of art, in the way I believe Lyotard proposes for Buren’s work.

My writing shouldn’t obscure the fact that my main activity is tied to the ambition of making visible the “not-yet-seen”: the two activities can neither be isolated or confused. Although one has the mad desire of flushing out the “not-yet-seen,” the other could never aspire to express the “not-yet-said.” (Buren, 1982, p.108)

The function of the writing for Buren is to act as a sort of testing ground for the work of art. In Buren’s case, at least, the work of art is (textually?) “silent” – the writings about them act as a “baptism of fire” (à la Nietszche?) from which the effective work of art will emerge unscathed:

… only those which can emerge intact or reinforced manage to prove that they have something to “say” beyond the written word. (Buren, 1982, p.109)

This seems to suggest a necessary synergy between the work and the text, that the text serves to justify and promote the work to a new state. However, the text is never the artwork in a very real sense – the difference between the artwork and writing is described as “the uncrossable and impossible distance between the two ways of saying.” (Buren, 1982, p.109)

He finishes by making the pointed remark that “if I put time and care into my writing, it’s because I feel that words have a certain strength, and their power shouldn’t be monopolised by so-called specialists.” (Buren, 1982, p.109) Exactly who he is directing this to is unclear, but I can believe it could easily be towards Lyotard’s co-option of his work.

I suspect that Buren is talking about his artworks in-particular, rather than about art in general here. He may also be reacting to some other critic, I don’t know the context of the piece, Buren may have had many critics in mind, Lyotard may be completely irrelevant here. But I think Buren’s conception of writing is an interesting adjunct to his work and obviously provides some useful background to it.

  • BUREN, Daniel (1982). Why Write? Art Journal, vol. 42, no. 2 (Summer). pp.108–109.
  • LYOTARD, Jean-François (1979). Preliminary Notes on the Pragmatic of Works: Daniel Buren. October vol. 10 (Autumn). pp. 59–67.
  • LYOTARD, Jean-François (1981). The Works and Writings of Daniel Buren: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Contemporary Art. Artforum International no. 19 (February). pp. 56–64.

SEMINAR—Framing Art—Institutional Critique

Today I made a short presentation to the Framing Art course that I’m on, based around two texts linked to the practice of Institutional Critique, one by Daniel Buren1 and one by Adrian Piper2. The question to which this is the response was:

During the seminar, students will give a short presentation of their chosen artists’ writings. This analysis must not give an overview of all the arguments contained in the two texts, it must instead be based on a single comparable argument extracted from each text and presented within a contextual framework.

The presentations must concentrate on how your chosen artist has addressed the museum.

I’ve posted the notes from which I did the talk, as well as a recording.3.

I didn’t realise I said ‘erm’ quite so much. How embarrassing. I’ve asked about presentation coaching so hopefully I will be able to improve on this.

  1. Buren, D. (1971). Function of the Museum. In McShine, K. ed., The Museum as Muse, Artists Reflect. New York: MOMA, 1999.
  2. Piper, A. (1980). Some Thoughts on the Political Character of This Situation. In McShine, K. ed., The Museum as Muse, Artists Reflect. New York: MOMA, 1999.
  3. Every few minutes you’ll hear the hard drive of the iPod spin up and down again. Although noisy, it’s still possible to hear what I’m saying.