TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT January 2010

TOP TEN

Tirdad Zolghadr

Tirdad Zolghadr is a freelance writer and curator. He teaches at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, and is cocurating the 2010 Taipei Biennial with Hongjohn Lin. The working title of his second novel is Top Ten.

  1. WAGE (WORKING ARTISTS AND THE GREATER ECONOMY)

    While curators, janitors, technicians, and editors get paid, artists commonly do not. WAGE is a New York–based collective addressing the “organized irresponsibility of the art market” and the “promise of exposure” that is the main currency for artist remuneration. This project is not as grandly ambitious as the Art Workers’ Coalition of the late 1960s: WAGE’s priorities rest on a simple, specific demand—for the comprehensive establishment of artist (and freelance curator) fees—without invoking a broad agenda that sounds dramatic but goes nowhere.


    WAGE WoManifesto.

  2. THE DEBATE BETWEEN ROBERT STORR AND FRANCESCO BONAMI, OKWUI ENWEZOR, AND JESSICA MORGAN

    in Artforum in 2008. It began with Storr’s rambunctious response to the three curators’ critique of his Venice Biennale, and the resulting mudfest was a rare moment when the rhetoric escaped the tedious self-control that art-world limelight produces. Enwezor and Storr, in particular, offered a fiery escalation covering everything from postcolonial politics to microgenerational divides to curatorial careerism. Roland Barthes said arguments produce sheer stichomythia, but this macho quarrel was a wonderfully entertaining and enlightening read.

  3. MANIFESTA 6, NICOSIA, CYPRUS, AUTUMN 2006

    The event and its cancellation were, of course, much hyped. But given that the biennial industries continue to be as predictable and overconfident as ever, M6 should still be highlighted as an alternative. Curators Mai Abu ElDahab, Anton Vidokle, and Florian Waldvogel aimed for an “exhibition as school,” a process-based structure focused not on a wider audience but on artists and their immediate interlocutors. The idea had experimental precursors (e.g., Gwangju 2002), and there have recently been careful redefinitions in format (e.g., São Paulo 2008), but we have yet to see something quite as uncompromising.

    Building facade of proposed Manifesta 6 venue, Nicosia, Cyprus, 2005. Photo: Wolfgang Stahr. Building facade of proposed Manifesta 6 venue, Nicosia, Cyprus, 2005. Photo: Wolfgang Stahr.
  4. WWW.DECOLONIZING.PS

    I’m a little tired of interdisciplinarity à la “exhibition research,” where we play semi-Foucauldian journalist or quasi-Rancièrian ethnographer with boring impunity. But decolonizing.ps shows it’s still possible to cross disciplines and act like adults. With a subtle sense of site and medium, format and form, Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, and Eyal Weizman use architecture to articulate possibilities of decolonization: “Recognizing that Israeli colonies and military bases are amongst the most excruciating instruments of domination, the project assumes that a viable approach to the issue of their appropriation is to be found [in] inaugurating an ‘arena of speculation’ that incorporates varied cultural and political perspectives.” Said “arena” includes landscape designs for interrupting the colonial apparatus, proposals that strive to be both pragmatic and militant, inventive and long-term.

  5. BRUCE HAINLEY, FOUL MOUTH (2006)

    I admire Hainley’s poems, some of which are collected here. Even his exhibition reviews are exquisite. We don’t always agree on the art. In fact, we rarely do. But Hainley is probably the single most influential art writer as far as my own work is concerned. Not only is reading his prose a depressingly humbling experience, but it was Hainley who introduced me to key notions of art pedagogy, to the novels of Dennis Cooper, and even to Paris Hilton herself. It also bears mentioning that generations of writers, in Artforum and beyond, hail from his seminar rooms.

  6. NATASCHA SADR HAGHIGHIAN’S ONE-YEAR VACATION

    I’m glad she’s on holiday. Don’t get me wrong—Sadr Haghighian is a remarkable artist. Her 2008 Solo Show project at the Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna was a brilliant take on the division of labor between artists and their assistants. The site www.bioswop.net is an equally brilliant effort to undermine the dreary economy of art-world success stories by offering a place to barter CVs. And her 2009 show “Früchte der Arbeit” (Fruits of One’s Labor) took Johann König’s gallery to another level. A common thread in all these projects is an engagement with the sketchy ideological premises of work ethics in the field of art. But the holiday is more to the point.

    Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Solo Show, 2008. Installation view, Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna. Photo: Matteo Monti. Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Solo Show, 2008. Installation view, Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna. Photo: Matteo Monti.
  7. BIGG SNOOP DOGG RAW N UNCUT VOL. 1 (2003),

    directed by Hakeem Khaaliq and starring Warren G, P. Diddy, Goldie Loc, and others. The film documents Snoop’s thirty-first birthday, and it’s the kind of party you wouldn’t even take your parents to. Rarely are the trappings of Top Ten success this refreshingly, unapologetically awkward. Makes the Venice Biennale parties look like Vampyros Lesbos.

    Snoop Doggy Dogg takes a “shotgun hit” from the Bishop at the 3rd Annual Stonys presented by High Times magazine, B. B. King Blues Bar and Grill, New York, March 3, 2002. Photo: George De Sota/Getty Images. Snoop Doggy Dogg takes a “shotgun hit” from the Bishop at the 3rd Annual Stonys presented by High Times magazine, B. B. King Blues Bar and Grill, New York, March 3, 2002. Photo: George De Sota/Getty Images.
  8. BENJAMIN H. D. BUCHLOH’s

    sojourn as Daimler Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, 2009. Having grown up attending international schools, I’m fascinated by the complex ideological function of postcolonial outposts of this kind. The American Academy was founded as US troops left Germany in 1994, and it aims to fine-tune the way Berliners see Amerika. So the implications of our art-world Über-Ich as fellow are interesting. Buchloh recently surprised everyone by gushing over Gerhard Richter’s stained-glass windows in the Cologne Cathedral, and he intends to use the fellowship to write a book about Richter. Buchloh’s being a foreign dignitary reflects our profession’s history unfolding, like so many figurative rings on a conceptual tree stump.

  9. THÉRÈSE KRISTIANSSON, VERKTYGSLÅDA FÖR TVÅMOTORSÅGAR OCH EN YXA (TOOLBOX FOR TWO CHAINSAWS AND AN AX), 2006

    Odd how some work comes to haunt you over the years. I stumbled across this minimalist contraption, designed to house two chain saws and an ax, at the Liljevalchs Konsthall in Stockholm in 2006, but I’ve never met the artist, who has apparently moved on to a more performative and activist practice. Sometimes a work just inhabits your imaginary without any context to show for itself. Like the savory chunks in your soup that refuse to dissolve.

  10. THE PUBLIC ART IN MY IMMEDIATE NEIGHBORHOOD

    I live in Mitte, Berlin, which is gentrified well beyond hope. But the art is nice, complicit as it may be. Outside my door there’s a Clegg & Guttmann, Monument for Historical Change: Fragments from the Basement of History, 2005, which references five Berlin monuments; a stone’s throw from here is a handsome sculpture by Michaela Meise that doubles as a bench; and the ground of Rosa Luxemburg Square is marked by Hans Haacke’s Luxemburg memorial. Meanwhile, just around the corner, there is a building under construction designed by Cosima von Bonin and Roger Bundschuh. Marketed as a cross between architecture and sculpture, it offers extra-high ceilings, taller than a Leipzig painting, and explicitly targets collectors.

    Clegg & Guttman, Monument for Historical Change: Fragments from the Basement of History, 2005, mixed media. Installation view, Rosa Luxemburg Square, Berlin. Photo: Michael Clegg. Clegg & Guttman, Monument for Historical Change: Fragments from the Basement of History, 2005, mixed media. Installation view, Rosa Luxemburg Square, Berlin. Photo: Michael Clegg.