XCO READINGS: 090217/Sec.2/Session#6/Sholette-Stimson/Collectivism

XCO READINGS: 090217/Sec.2/Session#6/Sholette-Stimson/Collectivism After Modernism
(different chapters assigned per individual-look for your initials under each chapter in table of contents below)

Below overview taken from:

Collectivism after Modernism
The Art of Social Imagination after 1945
Blake Stimson and Gregory Sholette, editors

Analyzes collective artistic practice from the Cold War to the global present.

The desire to speak in a collective voice has long fueled social imagination and artistic production. Prior to the Second World War, artists understood collectivization as an expression of the promise or failure of industrial and political modernity envisioned as a mass phenomenon. After the war, artists moved beyond the old ideal of progress by tying the radicalism of their political dreams to the free play of differences.

Organized around a series of case studies spanning the globe from Europe, Japan, and the United States to Africa, Cuba, and Mexico, Collectivism after Modernism covers such renowned collectives as the Guerrilla Girls and the Yes Men, as well as lesser-known groups. Contributors explore the ways in which collectives function within cultural norms, social conventions, and corporate or state-sanctioned art. They examine the impact of new technologies on artistic practice, the emergence of networked group identity, and the common characteristic of collective production to blur the typical separations between artists, activists, service workers, and communities in need.

Together, these essays demonstrate that collectivism survives as an influential and increasingly visible artistic practice despite the art world’s star system of individuality. Collectivism after Modernism provides the historical understanding necessary for thinking through postmodern collective practice, now and into the future.

“Blake Stimson and Gregory Shollete skillfully utilize collectivism’s inherent ambiguities and contradictions to open a book that examines collectively produced art across many cultural divides and political contexts.” —Artforum

“Stimson [and Sholette]'s project is one to be engaged with, as it wreaks necessary havoc with that dominant reductive perspective that too easily casts consumerism versus idealism, Postmodernism versus Modernism.” —Art Monthly

“Collectivism After Modernism, The Art of Social Imagination after 1945 provides us with a new 'map' of Modernism since World War II/ A very challenging and exciting map, since it is one that is not compatible with any dominant paradigm or conceptualization of what Modernism used to be and could become once again in the near future.” —Leonardo

Contributors: Irina Aristarkhova, National U of Singapore; Jesse Drew, San Francisco Art Institute; Okwui Enwezor, U of Pittsburgh; Rubén Gallo, Princeton U; Chris Gilbert, Baltimore Museum of Art; Brian Holmes; Alan Moore; Jelena Stojanovi´c; Reiko Tomii; Rachel Weiss, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Blake Stimson is associate professor of art history at the University of California Davis, the author of The Pivot of the World: Photography and Its Nation, and coeditor of Visual Worlds and Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology.

Gregory Sholette is an artist, writer, and cofounder of collectives Political Art Documentation/Distribution and REPOhistory. He is coeditor of The Interventionists: Users’ Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life.

304 pages | 80 halftones | 7 x 10 | 2007


Introduction: Periodizing Collectivism by Blake Stimson and Gregory Sholette

1. Internationaleries: Collectivism, the Grotesque and Cold War Functionalism
Jelena Stojanovic´

2. After the “Descent to the Everyday:” Japanese Collectivism from Hi Red Center to The Play, 1964-1973
Reiko Tomii

3. Art & Language and the Institutional Form in Anglo-American Collectivism
Chris Gilbert

4. The Collective Camcorder in Art and Activism
Jesse Drew

5. Performing Revolution: Arte Calle, Grupo Provisional, and the Response to Cuban National Crisis, 1986-1989
Rachel Weiss

6. The Mexican Pentagon: Adventures in Collectivism during the 1970s
Rubén Gallo

7. Artists’ Collectives Mostly in New York, 1975-2000
Alan Moore

8. The Production of Social Space as Artwork: Protocols of Community in the Work of Le Groupe Amos and Huit Facettes
Okwui Enwezor

9. Do-It-Yourself Geopolitics: Cartographies of Art in the World
Brian Holmes

10. Beyond Representation and Affiliation: Collective Action in Post-Soviet Russia
Irina Aristarkhova



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  2. Stimson&Sholette/Introduction/AT/Question:

    I thought it was said in class these readings would be posted to Blackboard since we each are concentrating on single chapters. I can not see them under Course Documents.

  3. Stimson&Sholette/Introduction/AT/Answer:

    No, he said in the e-mail that you have to go pick up the readings (your chapter that is) at the Smith Warehouse. Google books has some chapters online if that helps

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  5. Gallo/Mexican/LH/Question:

    I've read about Mexican artcollectives in the 70's. Mostly about a group called Proceso Pentágono.

    In short:
    - They embraced collectivism both as a working method and as a political value.
    - They were against the government-run exhibition spaces, which they perceived as bureaucratic and out of touch with their surroundings.
    - They tried to do collaborative activist artwork that would engage the public and inform them of the injustice of their society. - They excepted invitations to exhibit in museums but did street actions outside the museum to move the exhibition and the audience from the museum to the street, so that people would integrate and be confronted by the violence of the street.

    Questions for pondering:

    1. According to the author "they were less interested in making art than in conveying information". Is it possible to subvert "The medium is the message" so that the message takes over the medium/art?

    2. Don't we need both the collective and the individual? To create art in a solely collective way doesn't seem possible in the long run (communities dissolve), or?

    3. The group participated in museum-sponsored exhibitions and tried to attack the institution from within. Is that possible? Does it have an impact? Or does the government/institutions "win" anyways by inviting them, thereby seeming more open minded than they really are?

  6. Stimson&Sholette/Beyond Representation and Affiliation: Collective Action in Post-Soviet Russia/VF/Question:


    Aristarkhova’s essay focuses specifically on “two politically marginal efforts to go against the grain of political apathy: the art movement known today as Moscow Actionism….and the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers.”(p. 253)


    I don’t agree with Irina Aristarkhova’s statement that “the experience of motherhood is preoedipal, that is, it exists outside the establishment of culture and society” (p.263-264). In my opinion one must look no further than Mothers Day, to prove that motherhood is indeed present in culture and society. Also, different cultures place different emphasis on the importance of mother or father and that distinction is yet another proof of the importance of the latter in society.

    Why is it that in Soviet Russia a woman was given political voice “[grown] up without slave mentality and a sense of submission and rejection” (p. 265) while other communistic regimes were more patriarchic?

    Despite the Soviet strict control of media the arts and other forms of expression the Semiotics movement (Tartu-Moscow school) was still rooted, (despite its non-Soviet like believes, in Russia).

  7. I like Tomii's emphasis on giving due credit to Japanese groups and examining them in their national/political context. I feel like she skimps a little when it comes to their relationship with Western artists and cross influences. I'm interested in seeing how American and Japanese works, in two almost opposing political contexts- intersect.

    I think Tomii is too silent about the art produced during Japan's period as a fascist state and during the occupation. I wonder if this has to do more with dominant academic trends or with the intended audience of the article.

    The contrast between HRC's performance of Cleaning Event, with its focus on the local context, and Fluxus' repetitions and complete decontextualization of the performance really strike me. Obviously, there were numerous American works produced in context and Japanese works with no obvious context, so I wonder how indicative of overall trends these two versions are.

  8. Stimson&Sholette/8. The Production of Social Space as Artwork/RS/Question

    Chapter 8 speaks to the legacy of the artist as an author and how this legacy is morphing due to collective art.

    1. Is collective artwork social or artistic? Are these two mutually exclusive? (223)

    2. Is pluralization beneficial or detrimental to the notion of defining the art and the artist? (227)

    3. Collective art can be political. Can we address ethical questions through aesthetics? Does this lead art to be judged through the lens of policy and politics instead of the traditional artistic lens? (247)

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  10. Stimson&Sholette/1. Internationaleries/RS/Question

    Chapter 1 introduces the concept of unitary urbanism, or an examination of the aesthetics of past urbanist groups. "In different ways the ultimate goal of unitary urbanism was the restoration of a totally human experience...not unlike Lefebvre's concept of the festival as a celebration of the collective ownership of urban space." (33)

    Question: Do we, as Americans, have collective ownership of public space? In cases where we do technically have collective ownership, do we act upon this as a collective group?