Living as Form in Print

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With the tagline, “Over 1000 artists and projects, 25 curators, and 9 new commissions highlighting 20 years of socially engaged art”, Creative Time‘s Living as Form exhibition is nothing if not ambitious. Part exhibition, part archive, part creative summit, Living as Form aims to lay a definitive critical frame around the creative process that is referred to here as socially engaged, (which has also been called, relational art, new genre, and dialogic). For those of you unfamiliar with the terms, they are meant to define a process or situation organized by the artist in which the participants engage in some kind of shared experience, taking the focus wholly off of the ‘art object’. To learn more, or expand what you know, please refer to the concise curatorial statement by Nato Thomson, Creative Time’s Chief Curator. Nato takes his position from a career investigating socially engaged art, as evidenced by his groundbreaking work on The Interventionists (2004) and his production of Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot project in New Orleans (2007); and I’m sure being able to work closely with over 25 of the top curatorial art stars from around the globe was fun too. The challenges inherit in organizing an exhibition that not only commissions new work, but attempts to collect historic work in which there really isn’t a traditional art object can only be daunting. Beginning with the conceit of exhibition as physical archive, Living as Form begins it’s gushy love affair with the printed document, and you can feel the love all the way through this lively and compelling exhibition.

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0urgoods.org‘s How Much Is Our Work Worth To Each Other? is the first project to greets you as you enter the historic Essex Street Market. The project is an excellent embodiment of the Ourgoods barter network. The project acts as a loci of activity organized around determining the value of labor in the arts, and stimulating actual exchanges through their ‘Haves’ & ‘Needs’ fliers and related activities.

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Many, many more images after the jump.

This show is much too far-reaching and complex for anything like a coherent review here, but you can read more from the NY Times here, Bomb Magazine’s review of the summit here, and Hyperallergic’s review here, and you can always read the book, due January 12 from MIT. Also, if you have a large exhibition budget at your disposal, an iteration of the show will be touring as a packaged exhibition available through Independent Curators International. Rather than trying to put a critical spin around this exhibition, this post will take a more somatic approach, in the form of a photo essay that leads you, as a pedestrian through the historic Essex Street Market.

Ourgoods produced a ‘Trade School’ journal for the exhibition, below.

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Note that the journal was designed to be made into a hat! An activity not uncommon among many trade laborers in centuries past, although this particular model looks decidedly more pirate-inspired.

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The large warehouse is divided into areas by low cinder block walls, some of the areas resemble cubicles, or small lounges, and others are more open with metal bookshelves operating as nominal dividers. The whole thing has the feeling of a soviet big box bookstore. The architectural firm Common Room designed the exhibition space.

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Many of the dozens of artists and groups included were allotted space on industrial metal bookshelves to display their wares. While others were allotted larger or particularly organized space, cumulating in the club-house/cubicles of the new commissioned work. This implies some kind of hierarchy of space, but it’s not overtly clear what the determinant criteria might be.

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The visual effect of all of these metal shelves containing small things could be a bit overwhelming. The idea of an exhibition as archive is a compelling one, but in practice it much of this content is easier to digest in a book or website delivery format.

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The rain collection umbrellas were designed by Buster Simpson.

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A community gathering/reading room (below), one of many scattered throughout the exhibition where workshops and meetings took place.

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The Long March Space presented, the Shanghai-based, Madein Company’s Physique of Consciousness.

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Megawords used their area to make a kind of open-source chill lounge/zine library/music venue, complete with a photocopier in case you needed to make some copies.

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The Patriot Library seemed to hold a host of banned books.

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Surasi Kusolwong’s “Golden Ghost” installation (instructions below), included this great newsprint poster take-away.

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Kusolwong’s romps room provided a chance reward to the ambitious treasure seeker.

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Temporary Services Market publication (below) operated as an analog to their actual Market project, creating literal space in the exhibition for local non-profits in need of a public meeting space.

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Celine Condorelli and Gavin Wade’s Support Structure project (below).

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Mel Chin’s Fundred Dollar Bill project (below).

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Some of the architectural oddities included numerous meeting rooms (above) and a duct tape graphics of the numerous off-site projects.

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Caroline Caycedo’s collaborations with local spiritual organizations resulted in the production of all these amazing votive candle free to any takers.

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I’m sorry to report that this post really just barely scratches the surface in what is likely to be considered a very important exhibition.

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Categories: Exhibitions


One Response to “Living as Form in Print”

  1. Live News says:

    I do love the manner in which you have presented this specific problem .