sydney

Michael Stevenson, The Fountain of Prosperity, 2006, Plexiglas, steel, brass, aluminum, rubber, cork, string, concrete, dyed water, pumps, and fluorescent lamps. Installation view.

Michael Stevenson

Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia

Michael Stevenson, The Fountain of Prosperity, 2006, Plexiglas, steel, brass, aluminum, rubber, cork, string, concrete, dyed water, pumps, and fluorescent lamps. Installation view.

David Hume on the problem of induction is one of several sources Michael Stevenson integrates into the narration of On How Things Behave, 2010, his most recent video work, which prominently includes tracking shots of a seawall in northern Spain that has been decorated by a hermit using paints washed up by the tide. In the measured, German-accented voice-over, the eighteenth-century philosopher’s arguments sound at once prosaic and arcane, curiously patient and unreasonable. The abstract question of how we can speak about the universal when all we experience is specific could—in this very particular articulation—serve as a figure for a central concern of an artist whose work consistently negotiates interchanges between periphery and center, marginal historical detail and global issues.

Stevenson turns drawings and objects both appropriated and imaginative into clues to

Sign-in to keep reading

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

Not registered for artforum.com? 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 PRINT EDITION of the September 2011 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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