Tim Griffin

  • William Leavitt, Spectral Analysis, 1977/2010, sofa, starburst light fixture, end table, television with DVD of rotating prism, wooden wall, curtain panel, six ceiling-mounted theatrical lights with gels, recorded highway-traffic sounds, dimensions variable.

    William Leavitt

    IT MUST HAVE BEEN A THRILL when poststructuralism hit the scene in Los Angeles in the early 1970s: Hardly a picture, it seems, could pass through an artist’s studio without a new kind of caption being affixed, totally altering that image’s sense. For In Search of the Miraculous (One Night in Los Angeles), 1973, Bas Jan Ader endowed dim snapshots with romantic grace, scribbling snatches of song lyrics at their bases. Five years later, in his series “Blasted Allegories,” John Baldessari paired snapshots of televised imagery with single words, prompting (by making, for example, angst seem like

  • Matt Mullican, Untitled (Try and Beat This Mars), 1974, collage on paper, 8 3/4 x 11".

    Matt Mullican

    While other artists during the 1970s were busy exploring how media imagery marks our distance from the world, Matt Mullican was considering the ways such representations are inevitably part of it.

    While other artists during the 1970s were busy exploring how media imagery marks our distance from the world—to use the parlance of the Pictures generation—Matt Mullican was considering the ways such representations are inevitably part of it. In fact, he decided to become a representation himself, regularly performing under hypnosis so that the often arbitrary conventions by which we evaluate experience became all the more apparent. As this retrospective seeks to organize nearly four decades of work that delves so deeply into the question of how we organize

  • Werner Herzog, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, 2010, color HD video, 95 minutes. Production still. Foreground: Werner Herzog. Photo: Mark Valesella.

    Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams

    WHAT WOULD TRON LOOK LIKE in a carbon-dioxide-filled IMAX theater, with a digitized Jeff Bridges hovering above the steep vertebrae of seats buried in ancient snowfalls of calcified crystal? The question is never asked outright in Werner Herzog’s foray into 3-D moviemaking, Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010). But such petrified futures come to mind the moment viewers put on oversize, battery-powered glasses and then, in the opening scene, find themselves—instead of having to dodge a glowing Frisbee or the flailing limbs of the Kraken—greeted by an idyllic vineyard whose protruding tree

  • the 29th São Paulo Bienal

    SOME THREE DECADES AGO, writing in the context of Transavanguardia’s emergence on the global scene, Jean-François Lyotard famously railed against a “period of slackening” in art typified by what he deemed a kind of realism: work that adhered precisely to our expectations for it, neatly aligning with the aesthetic demands set by institutional frameworks and categories that would circulate and distribute it—or, for that matter, render it legible as “work” in the first place. Arguably, we are in a similar period of artistic repose—but we also seem to be witnessing an increasing desire among certain

  • “Today I Made Nothing”

    For the past decade and a half, increasing numbers of artists have devoted themselves to considering the radically altered relationship between work and leisure in contemporary society, which makes a great deal of sense, given that art occupies a uniquely privileged, paradoxical position precisely at the point of overlap between these two spheres. Even so, too often people resort to an old, clichéd trope: The very possibility of art (as an object of contemplation, as a thing produced and circulated) exists only by virtue of leisure time. And yet such leisure time spent in making and looking at

  • Left: John Baldessari, Noses & Ears, Etc.: Blood, Fist, and Head (with Nose and Ear), 2006, three-dimensional digital print with acrylic paint, 43 1/4 x 52“.  Right: John Baldessari, Kiss/Panic, 1984, gelatin silver prints with oil tint, mounted to board, in eleven parts, 80 x 72”.
    interviews November 23, 2010

    John Baldessari

    Relentlessly innovative and influential over the course of a five-decades-long career, John Baldessari (b. 1931) was a progenitor of conceptual art and among the first to explore the possibilities and implications of appropriation—constantly isolating and re-cropping images from television and film both to underline the elasticity of their meaning in changing contexts.

    On the occasion of his traveling retrospective, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York through January 9, 2011, as well as his solo exhibitions at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York (through December 4) and the

  • Babette Mangolte

    In Calico Mingling, 1973, a film by Babette Mangolte featuring a four-person performance on New York’s Robert Moses Plaza at Fordham University (choreographed by Lucinda Childs), there are moments when the deep focus of the director’s lens renders the dancers’ movements entirely ambiguous. Facing the camera, the performers are clearly all in motion (each with one foot stepping ahead of or behind the other); yet which of them move forward in space and which backward remains strangely unclear. As when a lens contracts, pulling the ground into the same plane as any figures within it, so the

  • Museo Hidráulico los Molinos del Río y Sala Caballerizas.

    Manifesta 8

    Manifesta has arguably become as much a meditation on curating itself, introducing new terms for site-specificity, while pressing the traditional framework of art to engage other fields, from education to governance.

    Created in 1996 as a roaming curatorial consideration of an expanding Europe’s swiftly changing relationships with regions abroad, Manifesta has since arguably become as much a meditation on curating itself, introducing new terms for site-specificity, while pressing the traditional framework of art to engage other fields, from education to governance. In this spirit, Manifesta 8 brings together three teams of organizers to plumb the social ties between Murcia and northern Africa. The vast majority of the artists’

  • Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

    More than futuristic imaginings or dystopian scenarios, what works of science fiction valuably convey to their readers is an acute awareness of materialist contingency. With sci-fi, at its best, everything from civilization to subjectivity is deeply vulnerable to changes (whether natural or man-made) in the greater environment, and therefore as susceptible to erosion or extinction as any common mineral or diminutive life-form. Even words and ideas—the very substance of culture, the science-fiction writer will suggest—are just another part of the organic world. The notion of psychogeography, in

  • Tim Griffin

    AMONG THE MOST INTRIGUING ASPECTS of conversations around contemporary art is the language most commonly used to describe the unprecedented expansion of its field. More and more often, in this context, one hears references to democracy and democratization, and doubtless such terminology is prompted today by the increasing number and diversity of audiences migrating to museums and galleries around the world. And, of course, these words seem all the more fitting as art-world institutions increasingly present works steeped in performance and participation, with the distance between art and audience


    FOR YEARS, I’ve periodically wondered about the merits of organizing an issue of Artforum around a single, relatively straightforward question: What is art today? That project never came to pass, of course, for reasons probably easy enough to imagine. The subject of inquiry is at once much too simple and much too complex, very specific and yet so broad and abstract as to seem nearly impossible to tackle. Most important, however, the question by itself induces no small amount of embarrassment. It requires that we make no assumptions and take nothing for granted regarding generally agreed-on

  • Visitors to Marina Abramović’s exhibition “The Artist Is Present,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010. Photo: Carolina A. Miranda.


    AMONG THE MORE STRIKING aspects of interviews with William S. Burroughs—Beat author and theorist par excellence of addiction in all its iterations—is a strong and prescient Malthusian streak running through his words. Time and again, his interlocutors would pose questions about writerly craft only to discover that Burroughs refused to discuss his fiction apart from the larger forces that both generate and are shaped by the “top-heavy” societies responsible for dwindling natural resources (and, he was wont to add, for financial cataclysm in turn). His fiction, it seems, was for him