The Lisson Gallery turned forty this year, and in celebration its summer show explored the work of a new generation of (mostly European) artists whose practices are rooted in the Conceptual work that the gallery helped pioneer. Curated by Emily Pethick (director of Casco, Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht), “Imagine Action” was billed as a “look at the space between the individual and the social”—a phrase that raises various teasing problems. Given the inseparability of constructions of individual identity and collective social formations, this “space” might be nonexistent. And yet if the individual case is stripped of its particularity and represented as just another category, it is effectively negated. Reflecting the paradox, many of the show’s exhibits both revisited, yet seemed subtly to ironize, Conceptualism’s tendency to present social relationships through abstract schemata
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