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“Primer (for Raymond Williams)”

Artists Space Exhibitions

Group Material’s “Primer (for Raymond Williams)” is collaborative, its intent political, its participants diverse in age, gender, and class, its setting noncommercial. This impeccable correctness could no doubt be annoying to those who implicitly worry about political art developing a hegemony, challenging pure art, however defined, to a duel from which only one will emerge alive.

Be that as it may, it might be more useful to abandon the debate over whether collaborations like this one are propaganda rather than art and to see them in a protean relationship with other efforts analogous to that between documentary and “fictional” films. There’s a difference of emphasis, often of aim, but less so of procedure, the methods of one often being put to the uses of the other. Documentary has the air of letting the facts speak for themselves; so do “Primer” and like-minded affairs such as last year’s

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