The Artist as Producer II

Curated by Whatspace

With Michiel Coppens (BE), Koen Delaere (NL), Peggy Franck (NL), Gerlach en Koop (NL), Bas van den Hurk (NL), Giacomo Santiago Rogado (CH), Maarten Spons (NL), Jamie Sneider (US), Lorelinde Verhees (NL)

Location Alpineum Produzentengalerie, Lucerne, CH

Date 30.08.-27.09.2014


The sta­rt­ing point of this ex­hib­iti­on se­ries The Artist as Produ­cer is a text by Okwui Enwezor from 2004 ti­tled, The Artist as Produ­cer in Times of Crisis. In this es­say Enwezor re­acts to an ea­rly text by Wal­ter Benja­min, which has a simila­r ti­tle, The Author as Produ­cer (1934). In this es­say Benja­min asks the ques­ti­on: ‘to what ex­tend does po­lit­i­cal a­wa­reness in a work of a­rt be­come a to­o­l for the upro­ot­ing of the au­ton­o­my and that of the au­thor?’ In oth­er words: what is the rela­ti­onship be­tween po­lit­i­cal a­wa­reness and the au­ton­o­my of a work of a­rt and its pro­du­cer?

Enwezor re­phrases the ques­ti­on in a contem­po­ra­ry con­text. He puts forwa­rd that the a­rtist as an indi­vi­du­al with an au­then­tic voice is a prod­uct of the capi­ta­list West. Accord­ing to him, in times of cri­sis, such an indi­vi­du­al does not ac­com­plish any­thing. Only if a­rtists work to­geth­er they can find an an­swer to domi­nant move­ments like neo-libe­ralism. Enwezor sees ’91 new crit­i­cal, a­rtistic for­ma­ti­ons that fore­ground and priv­i­lege the mode of co­l­lective and co­l­lab­o­rative pro­duc­ti­on ’92. How does Enwezor un­derstand these new forms of co­l­lective pro­duc­ti­on? He sees two ways. One is with­in co­l­lectives with per­ma­nent co­l­lab­o­ra­ti­ons. The oth­ers a­re: ’91 flex­i­ble, non-per­ma­nent course of affil­i­a­ti­on, pre­ferr­ing co­l­lab­o­ra­ti­on on a project ba­sis over a per­ma­nent al­li­ance ’92. This sec­ond type of co­l­lab­o­ra­ti­ons is what Enwezor sup­ports: a non-per­ma­nent co­l­lab­o­ra­ti­on based on projects. These types of co­l­lab­o­ra­ti­ons fit the rad­i­cal net­work based so­ci­ety of to­day much bet­ter, he says.

Whatspace thinks an an­aly­sis like this is still cur­rent. How can we and how will we make such an an­aly­sis prod­uctive? Both text by Benja­min as well as the text by Enwezor take a very strong stand. With this ex­hib­iti­on Whatspace wants to test and ques­ti­on how for­mal ap­pro­ach­es by a­rtist to­day can re­late to these stands. Can work that appea­rs light and play­ful al­so re­veal rela­ti­ons to cama­raderie, to sex­u­a­lity, fem­i­nin­i­ty, to­wa­rds a po­lit­i­cal a­wa­reness even? All the a­rtist in the show ne­go­ti­ate their me­di­um and prac­tice and that what it can im­ply un­der cur­rent cir­cum­stances. The for­mal ap­pro­ach­es and ways of pro­duc­ti­on open do­ors to how these a­rtist re­late to our time and the place of their prac­tice in it.

Text: Whatspace