[iDC] the googled documenta
Julian.Stallabrass at courtauld.ac.uk
Tue Oct 9 20:05:38 UTC 2007
David Joselit's posting was provocative and salutary, and I to am all for using art works beyond and if necessary against the intentions of their authors and the sensibilities of critics, particularly in these times when the most urgent issues of the use of images in the service of imperialism and war press on us. Indeed, I am in the process of curating a series of shows on the image war, and would be very grateful for any suggestions and directions.
My problem with Documenta was less the instrumental brutality with which it treated works or with the sometimes hostile environments into which it slotted them, but the clarity of the concept to which they were bowed.
Moving from work to work, and puzzling about why I kept coming across McCracken, brought about the idea of the Curatorial Coherence Coefficient (CCQ). Imagine an (ideal and never to be seen exhibition) in which all the works gathered together to make a perfectly coherent curatorial and historical argument, which unfolded with total clarity from work to work. That would have a CCQ of 1. Now imagine picking art works at random and sticking them up in an order governed by chance--that would produce a CCQ of 0. Most contemporary art exhibitions have pretty low CCQs, and this has something to do with a deep and systematic characteristic of curatorial thinking. The Documenta (to make a guess): 0.15.
The challenge, then, to treat works of art against artistic convention, for sure, but to do so in the service of a more systematic project, one that is not content to nestle comfortably in subjectivity and endlessly multiple meanings--the most fundamental art world conventions of all.
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