Hey I think good for all to watch this… or look at my notes and decide whether your interested.

Utopias and Avant-Gardes Study Day – Part 8

‘MICROTOPIA’ and Relational Art
Relational art is a particular type of art or trend that came to rise in early 90’s, here she focuses on the artist Rirkrit Tiravanija and Thomas Hischhorn.

Suggested Reading:
Thomas Hirshhorn, calos basualdo LONDON Phaldon 2004
Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, claire bishop, october no.110, 2004

here are my notes…
some defining characteristics of relational works
-turning gallery into a social space
-including viewers
-hybrid of performance art & installation art
but different from performance art because its the viewer who performs by responding to the created context and different from installation because have to use the space to discern meaning or value.
-a collective presence
-social interaction

The disillusionment of commodifiable
no longer producer of Art object but of an encounter

an example of his work

Thai Artist- Rirkrit Tiravanija
recreation of apartment
-reverse of the ready made- by using it (like peeing into duchump’s urinal)
-trigger for social situations- ‘encounter’
-domestic back drop & activity
-less formal relationship to gallery environment
-no white walls and no invigilators
-more accessible

Relation art and audience

The work envisages audience as a community, many people experiencing the work together and interacting with each other in the context set up by the work instead of the traditional idea that the viewer are isolated individuals- with one to one relationship with the work.

Idea of tradition one to one experience is that it transcends/eclipses reality

Reading: Micheal Fried- Art and Objecthood

Modernist theory- the traditional viewer of art audience
“presence is grace”
Art absorbs us and suspends us from the world (the everyday and we forget or transcend our context)
Private and alone the viewer is eclipsed by the work
60’s -70’s
Rosalind Krauss (predominate art academic) say its a myth

Don't no the name of the piece

Dan Grayham installation  1970’s
A room with 2 mirrored walls and a surveillance camera recording and relaying to a screen with an 8 second delay.

-viewers become more and more self conscious

If 70’s art was about understanding our perceptual relationship to others,
then 90’s art had more urgency, more political emphasis- less philosophic more about actual relations.

“capitalism depends on an idea of the privatised individual consumer, leading to an interest in producing works of art that emphasises our status as social or collective subjects, there’s been an resurgence of interest in collectivity and community in last 15 years which is in opposition to the idea that capitalism erodes the social bonds” -Claire Bishop

Reflected in many works that
questions (the problematic of) individual and society- like use with the collective really having to consider us as individuals and us in or as the group

Rirkrit Tiravanija came to success cos …

Recession of early 90’s
A rise of galleries taking more experimental approach to showing art, he produced a work where he relocated the gallery storage zone and office into the exhibition space and turned the back room in to the usable space-  with tables and food, work was about what happen and then there was the traces of activities.

Historical art linage of these works

-works like John cage 4minutes 33seconds
-Fluxus activities
-Instruction pieces – triggers like yoko ono’s

An Instruction Piece By Yoko Ono

Institutional critiques
Micheal Asher’s installation- 1976
Took out a wall of the gallery exposing the office, The director of the gallery and staff
So you see the business side -sense of economic

Nicolas Bourriaud coin the term Relational Art, this art came about as the reactions to now…

-Internet and do it yourself attitude
-Economy shift- not an economy of goods producers but of service industries
-erosion of social relationships in a society governed by market pressures
-individualism and consumption

The Society of The Spectacle, 1967 Guy Debord
A manifesto riling against the divisive and alienating effects of capitalism.
Capitalism prompted collapse of collective identity and produced society of passive alienated individuals
“ people are united but only in their separation from each other, it is a false relationship of togetherness that is constructed and controlled by commercial interests”

Today examples are programmes like Big Brother with its false relationships generated spectacle, public to the house mates… celebrities

he called for more authentic social relationships based on active engagement rather than passive consumption

In the 1960’s
change and optimism
student protests-(didn’t work out, didn’t change the world into utopian dream)

Then Post-modernism – A hostile reaction to Modernism with its ideas of Progress and Utopia
Art and Theory became preoccupied with difference- identity, class, race and gender etc.

Small scale harmony- No grand scheme for world to follow
Not solve worlds problems just make things a bit better in the here and now

Instead of trying to change our world artist are simply “learning to inhabit the world in a better way” (Nicolas Bourriaud)
‘It seems more pressing to invent possible relations with our neighbours in the present than to bet on happier tomorrows’

Do it yourself/Microtopian ethos
core of relational artificial
-Relief of possible totalitarian peril of utopia
-Reluctance to impose big ideas on other people

Immanuel Wallerstein book Utopistics

NEGATIVES OF Microtopia- this sort of work
Too quickly resign to compensatory gestures
Can’t change world so just change immediate surroundings- (lots just in gallery)
Not very ambitious

compared to say Russian Constructivist- ‘Art for the people! Art into Life!’, proclaimed the Russian Constructivists in 1917
Try to form a better world through design,clothing, art, architecture etc.
good design = harmony

with Relational Aesthetics… seem no real change… ???

Every utopia has a border and limit
They are always defined negatively by what they are not!

Thomas Hirschhorn
-work at the limit and border of social interactions
early work 90’s
Road memorial- appropriated everyday sculptural materials and objects
but as altars to artist not to an anonymous dead people

OUTSIDE ART CONTEXT-Risk not being read as a work of art at all
like many artist working in public arena regards any interaction as positive even destruction

Ulounge-about theme of utopia… exert from Tate website
“Thomas Hirschhorn brings two works to the poker party. One is Hotel Democracy (2003), which he describes as ‘a sculpture of an uncertain building embodying different concepts, realisations, misunderstandings, perversions, hopes, dreams and disasters of democracy’. Peering into this huge, two-storey, 44-room structure, we see creepy kid-size furniture and political posters – American, Chinese, Iranian, Swiss – each of them representing the souring of a sweet, precious principle. U-Lounge (2003) is very different: a sort of cultural laboratory-cum-hotel lobby built into the gallery’s structure that makes use, in a hopeful gesture, of its river views. The visitor is provided with books, videos and copies of works by the Vorticists and Marcel Duchamp. As the ‘U’ suggests, this is a utopian space – somewhere to sit, read, talk and think – embodying the artist’s belief that humanity’s paradise ‘is inside art, philosophy and poetry’. Reflecting on the show’s title, Hirschhorn has said: ‘Democracy is the “common”, utopia is the real “wealth”.’ With U Lounge, he plays the part of the rich man bearing alms.”

His monument to Bataille for Documenta 11( every 5 years most important contempoary art exhibiton)

like many relational works its temporary and made of cheap shody materials, not grand in appearance.

Monument to Bataille was miles for art gallery.. set in many locations in and around a poor housing estate and you had to wait for a speical local cab to take you too and from… tension- social zoo effect-locals and visitors watching eachother… very different people and socail back grounds the vistors… many were wealthy art people coming into very deprived area.
Uneasy – Not idealising human behaviour… IT IS IN OUR NATURE … not to get along with everyone to fight and hate as well as thing love and respect
Confront human social limits
created these very fragile encounters

all this 24 mins of a talk…. lots to think about in relation to our work and aims for the future!

video is from http://channel.tate.org.uk/media/39362938001/26644355001



Just wanted to say beyond the being a confusing load of words on first reading… the more I read the Nicolas Bourriaud text, ‘Relational Aesthetics’ 1998, the more it becomes understandable and interesting… still if you hadn’t translated the first part to me I probably just wouldn’t have engaged with it at all… it makes me think first sentences should be very understandable and grabbing and shouldn’t have brackets in them if they are going have big words and even bigger concepts.

and I again concede to my previous detesting of the heavy nature, it is not the devil, this as you said is written to make some sort of ultimate definition, or at least quite an attempt and is for people who have read or know every reference and seeing as I’m not an academic nor am I french its very understandable that it’s not going to be easy for me.

Having said that if this is being seen a key text of a generation and becoming more popular has anyone or could some one write it a way that attempts to be as accessible as the type of art work it describes.

these are my notes so far would like your thoughts even if your name isn’t Ellie…

‘Relational Aesthetics’ 1998

  • seen as defining text for generation European of artist- early to mid 90’s |(when Britain court up by YBA’s)

Relational art is:

  • art that looks at human interactions and social contexts
  • art that is not an independent and private representation- artist personal symbolism with codes for views to unpick to gain understand of artist communication

‘The possibility of a relational art’(the big bracket explaining what Relational Art is went here)’is testimony to radical upheaval in aesthetic, cultural and political objectives brought about by modern art’  – don’t know what the end of the sentence was really trying to say…? help please

  • came about because of creation of global urban culture
  • this urban understanding has spread to everything all parts of culture
  • spread of urbanisation

-End of WWII

-Increase in social exchanges and getting around- rail, road, telecommunications
-opening up of remote or isolated places and cultures… with this more understanding and connection

  • everywhere becomes or acts more urban
  • Art also opens up

“What is collapsing before our very eyes is quite simply the pseudo-aristocratic conception of how artwork should be displayed, which was bound up with the feeling of having acquired a territory”

  • no longer about sham of looking great and noble and acquiring art like gaining land… so things aren’t presented that way
  • no longer a space we walk through- not shown around collections like being shown around a grand stately home (English heritage)

This is my favourite sentence… should just of had this at the beginning I think…
“Contemporary art resembles a period of time that has to be experienced, or the opening of a dialogue that never ends.”

art does resemble that.

  • Experience become generalised in new global urbanised world

thats as far as I have got and understood so far…


oh and I am happy to say that ‘Shop’ is Relational but Participatory art or art of Participation still sounds more directly understandable