Participating artists: Sarah Abu Abdallah, Heba Amin, Eleanor Antin, Darren Bader, Tyler Coburn, Simon Denny, Jason Dodge, Maria Eichhorn, Dora Garcia, Liam Gillick, Melanie Gilligan, Goldin+Senneby, Pierre Huyghe, Roberto Jacoby, Hanne Lippard, Lee Lozano, Mathias Poledna and Mladen Stilinović
50 Years Later: The dematerialization of the art object from 1966 to 2016 is a cross-reference show on the permanent state of transformation which surrounds us, focused on the so-called conceptual art that questions the world we live in. A world in which the old forms—of work, of behavior, of art—no longer fit and new forms have yet to be outlined.
The Kunstverein in Hamburg has a long tradition of discussing and presenting positions of conceptual-critical, contemporary art. BACKSTAGE, the show curated by Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen and Barbara Steiner that launched the spaces on Klosterwall in 1993, was open to conceptual strategies—specifically to context art and relational aesthetics—, while Yilmaz Dziewior in 2002 raised questions of the visual in context-oriented and social approaches with the exhibition ZUSAMMENHÄNGE HERSTELLEN. Fourteen years later, these debates are again put to the test in the exhibition titled FLUIDITY, which based on the question of dematerialization expands the view to political-conceptual strategies to include the generation of “digital natives.” The transformation of society and artistic practices has changed considerably in the past fourteen years. It is the discussion on precisely these changes, their impact on art, and the political debates associated with them that the Kunstverein in Hamburg seeks to ignite with the FLUIDITY project.
Conceptual art in the 1960s looked to dissolve the artwork as a material object, in favor of an art formed of ideas and concepts. This, it was felt, would enable a radical opening up of the closed field of art. For the art forms of the 1990s, it was participation that would open up the structures of art and render them dynamic. Both movements promoted a “dematerialization” of art, intended to actively stimulate the spectator. This idea of “dematerialization” had been coined in 1968 by the curator and critic Lucy Lippard. But in our highly mediated, digitally networked world – a world itself arguably more fluid and dematerialized – this sort of opening up of art has proved illusory. The exhibition FLUIDITY juxtaposes works from both periods with conceptual work produced by a new young generation. This generation is digital and thus ultimately dematerialized, and it has developed new strategies to pose questions of relevance to today’s society. However, it remains to be seen if we should consider this work conceptual or dematerialized in the same way as itspredecessors.
The group exhibition FLUIDITY traces the path of conceptual art and “dematerialization” from the 1960s until the present day. In doing so, it reveals broader social tendencies and the ways in which they have been reflected in political art. These trends include the development of the neo-liberal economy and the art market, the increasing “liquification” of both values and currencies, and the dematerialization of processes of work. By adopting this approach, the exhibition takes aim at the one sidedness of recent debates on materiality and art. It also enables a new discussion and critical reflection on contemporary conditions of representation and the delineation of art as a field.
The exhibition project is curated by Bettina Steinbrügge (Kunstverein in Hamburg), Nina Möntmann (Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm) and Vanessa Joan Müller (Kunsthalle Vienna). A reader will be published in association with the exhibition.
- Booklet Fluidity (2.7MB, pdf)