Michael Asher

The Clocktower

One of art’s most irritating characteristics is its capacity to irritate. Bad art generates little irritation beyond a casual “Why bother to make it?” The irritation of good art is something else. Perhaps it stems from an uncertainty one never likes to admit to: whether or not the art really is good, how one ought to be reacting, and finally, if one is really “getting it.” Viewers don’t like to feel they’re being reviewed by art; it’s a presumptuous switch in roles that gets under the skin. But that’s what art based on perceptual manipulations often sets out to do, and as such it usually succeeds in being irritating. Whether or not it succeeds in being good art remains to be determined. One has to transcend one’s irritation to find out.

Michael Asher, a West-Coast master of subliminal manipulation, recently turned his attentions to the Clocktower, an unorthodox kunsthalle claiming squatters’

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.