PRINT September 2010



Joe Scanlan’s “Fair Use” [Artforum, May 2010], which takes the recent Tino Sehgal show at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York as its pretext, is more a conceptual piece than an essay. Mr. Scanlan does not advance an argument. Rather he takes up a paradox, with apparent foreknowledge of the danger, as a magician might handcuff himself. The trick is not to extricate himself but to redeem the paradox by turning it into mock praise: “The worse the work is, the better it is. The more trite it is, the more profound it is,” and so forth. The complex structure of Mr. Scanlan’s argument and the elaborate typography that is required for its presentation seem to suggest not that art is being dumbed down but that the complexity is being relocated. Even though I think he is wrong about Sehgal’s work, I do not doubt that the almost unsayable complexity of his response is appropriate

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