Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"In Numbers" Review in C Magazine 115

In February 2012, after presenting  Video Surplus/Varied Toil at the Supermarket Art Fair in Stockholm, I was lucky to be able to visit the "In Numbers" exhibition at the ICA in London. My review of the exhibition appears in issue 115 of C Magazine. 

In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955 was at the ICA London from 25 January to 25 March 2012.  My review explores the idea that artists have used self-publication as a form of publicity or marketing tool and as a method of poetic self-creation, with reference to a number of works in the exhibition, specifically General Idea’s FILE megazine, Eleanor Antin’s 100 Boots postcards, and Terence Koh’s Asianpunkboy (APB). The exhibition differentiates the works displayed from garden variety art magazines through the distinguishing features that they do not contain news items, criticism, or reproductions of artworks. Far more idiosyncratic, the serial publications in the exhibition are works of art in themselves.

Largely drawn from the collection of Philip E. Aarons, the exhibition is not comprehensive, but representative. The array of materials on display included slick, mass-produced magazines, cheap photocopied zines deploying recycled materials, and compendiums of objects, prints, and examples of correspondence art. The first significant survey exhibition of a major mode of artistic production that has until now been relatively neglected, In Numbers provides ample evidence that artists have used serial publications to disseminate viral communications about themselves. Their mimicry of mainstream conventions augments not only the public’s perception of their artistic activities but also an aesthetic consciousness of them. To borrow a phrase from APB’s “The Stolen Issue,” a visit to the exhibition induces the viewer into “Seeing pink faggot butterflies everywhere.”

For the complete review, check out C Magazine 115, available at the finest bookstores, newsstands, and libraries near you.