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art its history and meaning

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ur doing it wrong, or this paper is conceptual art

label - formal analysis - commentary 1


Joseph Kosuth (American, born 1945)
Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) The Word "Definition"
Date:
Medium:

1966-68
Mounted photographic enlargement of the
dictionary definition of "definition"
Dimensions: 57 x 57" (144.8 x 144.8 cm)
Kosuth has said that art is making meaning, and in his work he
investigates the ways in which art-making is tied to language. This
work is part of a series based on definitions clipped from dictionary
entries for words including art, chair, meaning, or, in this
reflexive example, definition. Kosuth considers the work of art to be
the definition of the given word, but for the purpose of presentation he
asks that his original cut-out dictionary entry be photographically
enlarged to a specific dimension each time the work is exhibited. This
Photostat is the first realization of this work, fabricated in 1968, and as
such it is shown here as a historical document.
this work is square. the background is
entirely black. the middle horizontal
third features a definition, in golden-ish
lettering, formatted in the typical style
of a dictionary entry, complete with a
syllabic
breakdown,
international
phonetic alphabet pronunciation key,
part of speech indicated, linguisitic
origin indicated. the definition is of the
word "definition." it reads: 1. a defining
or being defined. 2. a statement of what
a thing is. 3. a statement or explanation
of what a word or phrase means or has
meant. 4. a putting or being in clear,
sharp outline. 5. the power of a lens to
show (an object) in clear, sharp outline.
6. the degree of distinctness of a
photograph, etc. 7. in radio & television,

"but, like, what does it mean?" an artsy twenty-something asked her


even artsier friend as the three of us stood looking at a definition of the
word "definition." "but, like, why does it have to mean anything?"
while the two of them tried in puzzlement to piece together a
coherent thought about
self-reference, i could barely contain my excitement. what does it
mean is precisely the wrong question. what does it mean invites
defintionand definition is death. definition is closure, stasis, comfort,
complicity, complacency, illusory stability. to define something is to
bury it; to define objectives is to foreclose on discovery; to know is not
to ask. the meaning seems plainly given, and yet nowhere to be found.
what does it mean?
instead: what is it? it is an invitation to interrogate, ask, postulate,
hypothesize, venutre, destabilize, critique, challenge, revisit,
reconsider, reconceive. at the same time, it interrogates you: what am
i? why am i here? do i belong here? am i art? who defines art?
"a truly political art," says Kosuth, "would not content itself with the
message alone; it wouldit has toengage the viewer in a questioning
of the nature and process of art itself." he continues: " ... if art is to be
more than expensive decoration, you have to see it as expressing
other kinds of philosophical and political meaning."1 so then it is not
that the question of meaning is misguided; rather, it's that the
emphasis is as much, if not more, on the act of questioning and
challenging as it is on the pinning down of any determinate, selfcontained and settled meaning (or definition) which can be presented
neatly, tidily in a vacuum....
....or, without any reference outward, on a black square. but it is
appropriate then, although probably not intentional on Kosuth's part,
that the definition of "definition" is presented against a Black Square.
on the one hand, there is something defined, determinate, sharp and
distinct, presumably concretei.e. a definition, something that relates
a sign to that of which it is a sign, a pointer to the world; on the other
hand, there is the form of the black square in which Malevich "took
refuge" in his mission to "free art from the dead weight of the real

world"2i.e. the pole exactly opposite of concreteness, reference, and


objectivity. now, whereas Malevich and Suprematism sought to strip art
of reference to the real world, Kosuth and Conceptualism sought to
strip it of, in a sense, art itself, that is, of appearance. Malevich and
Suprematism sought to leave only pure sensation alone; Kosuth and
Conceptualism sought to leave the concpet, the idea, alone.
Conceptualism's Duchampian emphasis on the thought, the idea,
renders a traditional formal analysis inadequate, if not completely
beside the point. for "the idea itself," wrote Sol LeWitt, "even if it is not
made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product." In that
same essay, "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art," LeWitt offered his famous
definition of conceptual art: "In conceptual art the idea or concept is
the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a
conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions
are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The
idea becomes a machine that makes the art."3 so the idea and process,
the planning, must be considered as much as line, form, color, and so
on. Kosuth's Art as Idea as Idea is, in its process and planning, a
perfect example of an idea becoming a machine that makes art. Kosuth
cuts and pastes a dictionary definitionthat's almost the whole story.
but these images are accompanied with a signature, a documentation,
a certificate of ownership that grants institutionsi.e. museums,
galleries, etc.the right to actually produce the object to specification
and display it in exhibition.
first, this speaks to the dematerialization of the art-object in
conceptual art. second, and more interestingly, it invites a closer look
at LeWitt's statement that the idea becomes a machine that makes art
as it pertains to Art as Idea as Idea along the following two lines.
1) what is the producing machine?
in this case, the object is produced, is made, by MoMA, Tate, The
Modern, and so onthat is, it is realized in materiality, not by Kosuth,
the artist, but by institutions licensed, essentially, to do so.
2) what is the art?
the art is an idea, a meaning.
but this logical analysis of LeWitt's definition into its components as
applied to The Word "Definition" is precisely not the point here, for that
kind of analysis is the work of definition. rather, the point is in the
dynamic, differential, and meaning-constituting relation and, indeed,
(inter)dependence of these components. what is absolutely crucial

here is that, in realizing the work in materiality, in installing it in an


exhibition, which is to say, installing it within a context, within a
symbolic order, these institutions are not RE-producing "an idea, a
meaning"; rather, they are producing it for the first time. this is
absolutely not a chronological point, but a transcendental one in the
full Kantian sense: the institutions, in their reproduction of the material
object, are necessary preconditions, sine qua non, for the very
possibility of this meaningthat is, the idea cannot interrogate you
with the questions why am i here? do i belong here? until there is a
"here" where it is, where it may or may not belong, and against which
it can stand, and which it can challenge as an institution of power that
produces the very definitions and norms which sustain it.

but,
like
what
first, the question is not ignorant, although it can be asked in
ignorance. it can be asked in prelude to a search for an answer within
the very box the work intends to challenge. in fact, it is the inability to
answer this question within the scope of that box (without relying on
an illusory stability of definitions and an unjustified appeal to received,
prescriptive norms) that constitutes the challenge to and demonstrates
the untenability of its borders. this point also speaks to the error
committed by more conservative thinkers in their attempts to define
art so as to exclude whatever offends their oh-so-refined sensibilities.
moreover, the site of that error is (on the interpretation presented
here) made evident and addressed by Kosuth's piece. the error is this:
they seek to apply to art a method of conceptual (oh, the irony)
analysis that proceeds by considering paradigm examples, searching
for what they have in common most essentially. such an enterprise,
however, is doomed from the start, for it seeks the stable, static,
unchanging heart of a cultural practice that is always taking place at
the porous borders, at the periphery, at the frontline of culture, society,
meaning, history, thought. but borders are by definition always
contested, at best maintained by a sort of detante, and frontlines are
by definition sites of conflict and battle, not stasis. their quest for
definition is a quest for death, a quest to murder art, change, progress,
and, in finding a self-contained stable definition, to remove it, art, from
the realm of the living, where it can serve as a challenge to the statusquo favored by those in power, to a Platonic realm of eternal ideas
that is, ideas divorced from the critical task of interrogation and
questioninga realm of settled, and stable meanings.
it is unsurprising then that this conservative impulse, which amounts
to an attempt to install one set of ideas as dominant while checking all

subversive tendencies, is so typically couched in the language of the


Goodfor the moral dimension of psychic life exerts a motivating
influence on subjects' actions. the realm of what is is multiplicitous and
always in motion; the realm of ought, however, has been constructed
as singular and stable. now, "far from being picture-capturing devices,
humans are perpetually being caught by pictures"art "is a humancapturing device."4 so, if art is limited to concrete representation and
all subversion is checked by approbation, then the art-consuming
public will only ever be captivated by a very rosy picture, one that does
not challenege or illuminate (or even represent, thereby rendering
invisible) the determinate, serious, and real struggles of marginalized
or oppressed people for recognition, justice, equlity, and human dignity
that is, a picture that never incites, that passifies because it
obscures, and that serves to maintain the status-quo. in other words, if
the world that is has, through whatever historical contingency, put a
group at the top, we should not be surprised when that group seeks to
keep it that way by deploying an ideology that paints the way things
are as the way things ought to be and by checking the subsersive
potential of art by excluding anything subsersive in it by definition.
"what is this rubbish? this isn't Art."

but,
like,
why does it
have
to
mean

it's actually not the worst answer. in fact, it doesn't mean anything
at least not in itself, not in its own isolated, self-referential vacuum. it
can only mean in context, and that's the point, as argued above. in
fact, the questionwhat does it meanis itself created by context,
based on an assumption, presumably justified by the art-viewer's
encounter with the work in a museum's exhibition hall, that the work, if
it doesn't represent illustratively, nonetheless represents semantically,
has cognitive content; that is, if the work does not justify its occupation
of wall-space aesthetically, then it must justify it some other way, for
example, by being a puzzle to be solved by interpretation.

no art without a wall to hang it


Philip L. Goodwin and (American, 1885 - 1958)
Edward Durell Stone (American, 1902 - 1978)
and others

Goodwin-Stone Building (MoMA) and extensions to present


11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY
Architecture, International Style

Date:1939
(there is no label, so I am writing my own)
Although in mind here is the entire Museum of Modern Art structure at
11 W53rd as it exists today, the building designed by Goodwin and
Stone and completed in 1939as the MoMA's first permanent home
is named above, for it was the seed for all that grew from it in the form
of renovations and extensions. "As the headquarters of a truly
revolutionary cultural institution, the Goodwin-Stone building bore a
special burden: it had to meet the challenge of the newly established
Museum, to accommodate its innovative program, and to symbolize its
ideological aims."5 The building was designed largely in the
International Style, characterized by a committment to three principles
1) "a new conception of architecture as volume rather than as mass",
2) "regularity rather than symmetry as a means of ordering design",
and 3) a lack of ornamentation6 exemplified in 1) the facade's white
planar simplicity, it's two dark upper-floor strip windows, the
translucent glass above the entrance, stretching the entire area of the
lower half of the facade, and the structure's cantilevered roof
punctuated by a row of portholes, 2) the regularity of the portholes,
and the grid of the windowpanes, tempered by the (originally) offcenter entrance placement, and 3) the minimalism of the design as far
as added, or applied, adornment. The interior exhibition space was
"indeterminate and neutral."7 While loftlike, the Streamline Moderneinfluenced interior was more domestic and residential-scaled than the
grand museum interiors to which many visitors would have been
accustomed. Unlike the dominant practice of showing art on clothcovered walls, the MoMa featured white walls. The urban structure was
also distinctive for a museum in the vertical (as opposed to horizontal)
flow its multi-storied construction accomodated and its lack of any
expansive public area. Paul Goldberger, a respected critic, wrote that
"the odd mix of avante-garde [Streamline Moderne developed in the
1930's as a late offshoot of the Art Deco style, characteristic of the
then-recently constructed Rockefeller Center just across from the
museum site] and establishment temperments" of the Museum's
founders," with a "devotion to the new on the one hand and
connections to the city's established lines of power on the other
[Nelson Rockefeller, a great fan of the Art Deco style, was involved in
the project]" contributed to a "dilution" of the International Style
evident in the buildings design.8 Indeed, as it was in 1939, "the

museum was an aesthetic measure of the social forces that shaped the
institution over the previous ten years." Perhaps it was its radical-butnot-too-radical moderism that brought the design critical praise. 9
Since 1939 the building has undergone renovation and extension. In
1953 the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, designed by Philip
Johnson, was dedicated. In 1964 the Museum opened an east wing, a
garden wing, and enlarged the sculpture garden. 1980 saw
construction begin on the west wing and Museum Tower. When Cesar
Pelli was selected to design the Museum's vastly expanded west wing,
film theater, and two floors of offices (opened in 1984), he commented
that the Museum sought to be "respectful of its own past." "The
Goodwin-Stone building will continue being the symbol of the Museum
of Modern Art and will maintain its now-historical relationship with the
rest of the block as a white medallion on a dark background." 10 That
project also saw the completion of four-story, glass-enclosed hall
overlooking the sculpture gardenrecalling the vast window of the
facade. Indeed, when, in 2013, it was announced that the 12-year-old
home of the American Folk Art Museumitself a notable work of
architecture, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsienwould be
demolished for a MoMA expansion, Museum officials said that "the
building's design did not their plans because the opaque facade is not
in keeping with the glass aesthetic of the rest of the museum." 11 The
MoMA has reconsidered the demolition at the prompting of
architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, now involved in the project.
The 2014 Vision Statement states that the designers will seek "to build
upon the sequence of galleries created by Yoshio Taniguchi in 2004
without replicating themto maximize the variety of spaces for
presenting our collection; and to ensure that the Museum is more
directly woven into the dynamic urban fabric of midtown Manhattan."12
"but, like, what does it mean?"
as stated above, the questionwhat does it mean?is contextbound, and grounded in an assumption. encountering Kosuth's piece in
a museum or gallery, the viewer expects it to justify its occupation of
space: is it a work of aesthetic beauty? does it have a meaning? the
expection makes sense, too, for if there is anything, anything at all,
that distinguishes art from not-art, then that distinction will fall within
one of the dimensions of the human cognitive range: 1) maybe it's
phenomenally, sensorily exceptional in some way, perhaps in its
beautythis dimension pertains to our sensibility, our capacity to be
affected by the world; 2) perhaps it's emotionally movingthis
dimension pertains to our affective states and is related but not
identical to sensibility; 3) maybe it has cognitive content, maybe it

means something, maybe it's communicatingthis dimension pertains


to our intellectual faculty, our understanding. the viewer may not have
a clear idea of exactly where along those spectrums the art/not-art
distinction lies when she arrives at the museum or gallery, but she
assumes that there is such a distinction when she enters an institution
of art. moreover, though she may not be able to articulate that
boundary, she is nonetheless sensitive to it and thus responds to works
that appear to be clearly on the not-art side of the spectrum. "this is a
square... i see squares all the time." "my five-year-old could have
drawn this." "this is a toilet..." "these are just words! this is a dictionary
entry!" in other words, there's nothing special about this and i didn't
come here for more everyday crap that some jackass just decided to
sign and put in a frame. or, i'm being duped.
Kosuth's The Word "Definition" triggers that response and
interrogates itbut matters are completely different beyond the halls
of the art museum, our subjective stance toward the stuff of everyday
life is different: i have yet to walk into my bedroom, apprehend my
bed, and say, "bed, explain yourself! i demand you justify your
occupation of space within my humble abode, immediately! my
cognitive barometers indicate that you are hideous and have no
meaning. get out, now." the same goes for books, dishes, cars, and
buildings. all these objects have another justification: obvious
usefulness: books are good for escape or education; cars are good for
getting places, or as status symbols; beds are good for sleeping on.
even so, all these things are installed in a context, within a symbolic
order: cardboard boxes all over my friend's apartment on moving day
are "justified"; cardboard boxes all over my friend's apartment just
because... raise an eyebrow.
in his essay "Art After Philosophy", Kosuth declares that "if one is
questioning the nature of painting, one cannot be questioning the
nature of art." his explanation for this assertion is illuminating: "That's
because the word 'art' is general and the word 'painting' is specific.
Painting is a kind of art. If you make paintings you are already
accepting (not questioning) the nature of art."13 the idea suggests a
hierarchy. art, which is general, subsumes painting, which is specific.
different contexts constitute different symbolic orders, and the more
specific contexts take as given, take for granted, the broader contexts
under which the former are subsumed. but this raises a question also
raised by Art as Idea as Idea. the question becomes clearer if we first
consider what Kosuth says while discussing the context-dependence of
philosophical and political meaning: "This particular exhibit [referring
to the 1990 "The Play of the Unmentionable" installed by Kosuth at the
Brooklyn Museum] tries to show that artworks, in that sense, are like
words: while each individual word has its own integrity, you can put

them together to create very different paragraphs. And it is that


paragraph I claim authorship of."14 here he is simply interested in
making a helpful analogy, but in so doing obscures his own view stated
immediately prior: words and artworks (and meanings) do not have
their own integrity, but only derive what integrity, what meaning, they
have from the context in which they're situated. they only come with
their own integrity in the relative sense that we recieve them after
they've already been installed within a context by, to use the case of
words as an example, a language community. but, to make a Lacanian
point, the word is not a sufficient unit of meaning-making; rather, it is
the sentence, and until the sentence has been completed the meaning
of the individual signifiersthe wordsis seriously un(der)determined.
with that and the thought of the hierarchy, a question: if the bed
assumes the context of the bedroom, and the bedroom assumes the
context of the dwelling, and the....; and if the word requires the context
of the sentence, and the sentence....; and if the painting presupposes
art, ....; and if there is such a hierarchy, and that implies a highest
elementthen what is the ultimate point of reference that prevents
the entire, self-contained and self-referential system from collapsing
into meaninglessness? if the whole asks why am i here? do i belong
here?then what is the ultimate here, the ultimate context?
incidentally, this offers yet another interpretation of Kosuth's piece: a
self-referential unit, apparently glowing golden with meaning, but
ultimately suspended in the absolute darkness of black void. but it can
be taken farther, and again in a Lacanian direction: it is only because
of the black background that we percieve the letters which constitute
the text of the definition; that is, the absolute darkness of black void is
the precondition of glowing meaning. i will return to this point below.
the question is (ultimately) unavoidable, but it is posed more locally
with respect to the present concern: if the context of an artwork on
display is the art museum, what is the context of the art museum?
insofar as the art museum is a cultural institution, its context is society.
and insofar as art is a cultural practice, its context is society as well.
one can question the nature of painting, which is specific; one can
question the nature of art, which is general. one can question the
nature of art, which is specific; one can question the nature of society,
which is general.
now, the relation of broader contexts to narrower ones is a relation of
preconditions for meaning-making. it was noted that the bed is
meaningless without the context of the bedroom, the bedroom
impossible without the context of a dwelling, and so on. but a bed is
equally meaningless without the context of sleep, and sleep is
meaningless without the context of a sleeper. similarly, a dwelling is

meaningless without a creature that dwells. similarly, words


presuppose a being that understandssentences presuppose a being
that communicatesparagraphs, chapters, novels presuppose a being
that narrates.
returning now to the Lacanian interpretation of Kosuth's piece offered
just above, it must be recalled what Manet knew well in The Luncheon
on the Grass, namely, that painting is a two-dimensional affair. what
sense does it make, then, to say that the black square is behind the
letters of the definition? that is, what sense does it make to call the
black "background"? the text of the definition lights up for us, presents
itself as meaningful, because of the kind of beings that we are, namely,
meaning-making beings to whom the world is immediately present in
experience as meaningful, beings to whom things matter, who are
characterized by care, in its Heideggerian sense. thus we approach the
zero-level context. the ultimate precondition for meaning-making is
nothing but a meaning-making being in a life-world that discloses itself
as and appears with the promise of meaning, and demands to be made
meaning of. moreover, that demand is constituted not by something
out there, but by our nature as beings to whom things matter. the
precondition for society is a community of such beings, beings
characterized by care, who are pulled toward certain things,
relationships, and experiences and repelled by othersto care is to
care what happens, to care what happens is to have a preference, to
have a preference is to desire.
Kosuth is concerned with "a truly political art." in the sense in which
he uses it here, the "political" is that which pertains to the lives and
prospects of the members of a community with respect to their beliefs
regarding how they ought to be organized and how power (and
resources) ought to be distributed and deployed, regarding what future
they want and how to achieve it. again, this presupposes desiring,
meaning-making beings. without that, there is no envisioning and no
pursuing. "political art" can therefore only be that which intends or
effects an intervention in (or commentary on) that dimension of human
life.
from all that has been said, yet another interpretation of the piece
becomes possible. on this following interpretation the work speaks to
the very heart of what it is to be a being like us. the observation that
the "background"the blackand the "foreground" the text that
promises meaningtogether constitue a mutually-enabling unity
namely, the artwork Kosuth has given usstands. the observation that
the textual component, taken alone, represents an unmoored,
unanchored, self-referencing stasis with only the promise of meaning
also stands. indeed, one way to read the black "background" is as

suggesting that such tidy, self-contained, immobile, static definition is


death, i.e., the opposite of life, which is movement and change. but the
second way of reading the black squareand probably the more
crucial reading for this interpretationis as a reference to Malevich's
Black Square, and thus as representing pure sensation. so, one the one
hand there is the concept-forming faculty of the intellect, the
understanding; on the other hand is the faculty of feeling, of affective
existence. now, whereas the conceptual structure in the intellect can
be thought as stable and static, self-consistentand even must be
thought in this way, for if it were in itself unstable and incoherent it
would collapse wholesale and therefore would be no faculty of
understanding whatsoeverthe faculty of feeling, or emotion, or
affect, on the other hand, cannot be so thought, for this dimension
involves qualitative experience, and thus necessarily presupposes
existence in time, and, by extension, change and movement. the
observation that the text is underlain by a black square, then, is the
observation that determinate meaning, concepts, ideas are underlain
by pure sensationthat is, sensation breathes life and movement into
a conceptual structure that cannot even properly be said to have any
meaning so long as it remains a static collection of closed concepts. in
other words, meaning and, therefore, even the very coherence of
definition, presupposes pure sensation. this is even indicated by
Kosuth's inclusion of linguistic origin in the definition: what is static
never originates, the notion of origination presupposes the experience
of time. finally, the square represents the unification of these two
elements within a limited, embodied being. a closed, self-referential
and thus meaningless definition is locked, together with a solid field of
pure color, within the confines of a square, and suddenly it comes to
life, points outwards, interrogates, questionsart as a noun, as stasis,
as neat and definable and stable, goes out the window: art is revealed
as a verb, as alive, as meaning and creating meaning, as a practice, a
doing, as a questioning. an intellectual faculty is embodied, together
with a faculty of pure sensation, within the confines of a finite being,
and suddenly it is animatedthe pure sensation breathes movement
into the intellect, and the intellect channels, negotiates, and directs
flows of sense and affectsuddenly the being is in a life-world,
desiring, caring, looking, experiencing meaning and creating it,
dreaming, pursuing. and so society becomes possible. and art becomes
possible. at the porous boundary of self and world, the human being
creates.
to return to Lacan, the black canvas is not the void. the void is
beneath that still, a blank canvas, presupposed as the condition of
movement and changefor what is already full is fixed and locked in
placethe void is always threatening to open up a gap, and thereby
creates the pull of a vacuum that demands to be filled, a tension, a

dynamic instability, which ceaselessly generates (or regenerates)


desire, imagination, and movement and through that constitutes world
and meaning.
i said that "political art" can only be that which intends or effects an
intervention in (or commentary on) that dimension of our lives as
social beings that concern visions for the societal future and our beliefs
about how to move toward realizing those visions. it is therefore also
that which touches the underlying beliefs upon which those former are
founded. in that category we might find metaphysical and ethical
beliefs. an art that affects those beliefs will in consequence affect the
explicitly political beliefs built on them. now, it's fairly obvious that
without an encounter there can be no affection, so an encounter is
necessary. an individual must confront an artwork in experience in
order to be affected by it. this raises two questions: first, what is the
nature of that encounter? second, what are the conditions which
render such an encounter effectual? in other words, how does an
object of political art interact with individuals and, by extension, with
broader society? how can an encounter with such an object alter one's
beliefs, feelings, and desires?
these questions are so immensely interesting and so difficult.
several very basic observations will have to suffice.
for an objectwhether it's an idea of conceptual art or a more
traditional art object or anything elseto affect a person in a way
that's more than transitory, the object must effect a change in the
person's conceptual and affective schemes with regard to something
that matters. the object has to communicate in a language the person
understands. Ai Wei Wei's So Sorry/Remember, for example, cannot
affect someone in the way it was intended to do unless that person
understands at least the meaning of the characters. and if it said "I
bought new socks last Tuesday" few people would care. a work like Ai
Wei Wei's screams LOOK HERE! SEE THIS! if people look but don't
understand or don't care, it's a futile work as far as its aspiration to
make something visible or known is concerned. art has the power to
draw attention, to make people look, to make them think, to spread a
message. consider Steve Lambert's Capitalism Works For Me. it's a big,
lit-up sign that says 'CAPITALISM' with a scoreboard below it that reads
'works for me'one side keeps tally of 'TRUE' responses entered by
regular people via a switchbox, while the other side keeps tally of
'FALSE' responses. anyone who comes across the
sign/scoreboard/contraption not only inevitably asks themself if
capitalism is working for them, but they also look at the scoreboard
and see what the tally is: is capitalism working for the people around
here? both of these example represent direct interventions in the

conceptual and affective schemes of their audiences with regard to


something that matters.
in that the former draws attention to the culpability of the state in
the deaths of 9,000 schoolchildren and the latter prompts people to
stop, think about the economic system that affects every aspect of
their lives, and make a concrete decision, then and there, about
whether it's working for them, these are (presumably) good uses of art.
but while some uses of art can inform and illuminate, others can aim to
mislead, misinform, obscure, and control. as is now well-known, the CIA
sought to promote Abstract Expressionist art abroad as a weapon in
the Cold War in order to foster an image of the US as a land of freedom
of expression, of movement, alive, creative, and so on, as against the
drab Soviet Realism that dominated the Soviet Bloc.

Grindr
Medium:iPhone App

1 Freedberg, David. The Play of the Unmentionable: An Installation by Joseph


Kosuth at the Brooklyn Museum, artist quoted from interview with Randall Short
contained within, "An Artist Who Sees the Frame First." (New York: The New Press
published in association with the Brooklyn Museum, 1992), pp. 44-45, 27.
2 Malevich, Kazimir. The Non-Objective World. (1927).
3 LeWitt, Sol. "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art," Art Forum, (June 1967).
4 Leader, Darian. Stealing the Mona Lisa: What Art Stops Us From Seeing.
(Washington D.C.: Shoemaker and Hoarde, 2002), pp. 125.
5 Ricciotti, Dominic. "The 1939 Building of the Museum of Modern Art: The
Goodwin and Stone Collaboration," American Art Journal, Vol.17 No.3 (Summer
1985), pp. 51.
6 Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style, (1932);
paperback ed. (New York, 1966), pp. 25
7 Ricciotti, pp. 57. ibid.
8 Goldberger, P. The city observed, New York: A guide to the architecture of
Manhattan. (New York: Random House, 1979), pp. 49.
9 Ricciotti, pp. 72. ibid.
10 "The Museum of Modern Art Project: An Interview with Cesar Pelli," Perspecta,
Yale Architectural Review, no. 16 (1980), pp. 107.
11 Pogrebin, Robin. "12-Year-Old Building at MoMA Is Doomed," The New York
Times, Art & Design Section. (NYC: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., April 10, 2013).
accessed by web: May 10, 2015.
<http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/11/arts/design/moma-to-raze-ex-americanfolk-art-museum-building.html?_r=0>.
12 Lowry, Glenn D. "BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE: A WORK IN PROGRESS." MoMA.
January 2014. Web. 21 May 2015. <https://www.moma.org/about/building>.
13 Kosuth, Joseph. "Art After Philosophy," 1969.
14 from Freedberg, cited above. Kosuth in interview with Short, pp. 27