Art Monthly 438: Jul-Aug 2020

Art Monthly cover Art Monthly back cover
Luis Camnitzer

Interviewed by Nick Thurston


Francis Frascina

Domestic Radicality

Bob Dickinson


Sophie J Williamson

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Luis Camnitzer, The discovery of geometry, 1978


Art Thinking

Luis Camnitzer interviewed by Nick Thurston

Art objects are not art. Art objects are nothing more than by-products of art. That does not mean we should stop producing them, it only means we should become aware of why we produce them, and how language is distorted right now to disempower us as co-learners.

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Jenny Holzer, EXPOSE, 2020, animation by Paul Kamuf



Francis Frascina asks whether lockdown home confinement will drive women back into the place they have spent decades escaping from

These were metaphors of interiority, where individual fear – inner anxiety about what lies beyond ‘home’, beyond the hearth – was projected onto a harsh landscape of mythical figures of terror. These discourses are now mapped onto and internalised within those produced by responses to and explanations of a global pandemic. Lock down, stay home to stay safe – the tropes of the pathetic male politician.

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Abbas Akhavan, Study for a Garden: Fountain, 2012, installation view Delfina, London


Domestic Radicality

Bob Dickinson considers the home as less a haven and more a haunted place of loneliness and obsession

Martha Rosler has commented that since her performance Semiotics of the Kitchen in 1975, nothing much seems to have changed: ‘Women own the domestic sphere but not the public sphere,’ she has said. Even more so, now, perhaps, as during the current pandemic crisis our sense of the ordinary has been tested – especially for the vulnerable.

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Allora & Calzadilla, Raptor’s Rapture, 2012



Sophie J Williamson explores silence not as a retreat from the world but as a state from which to enact protest

Rather than stranding us in a silent abyss, the Fermi Paradox is instead repositioned by the artists to examine the universal expanse of silence as the irreducible matter that binds all relationships between the living and the non-living, human and animal, terrestrial and cosmic.

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Shanzhai Lyric, Nothing , 2018
mini-publication published by Display Distribute


Shanzhai Lyric

Alexandra Symons Sutcliffe on the way the New York duo’s work charts the flows of capital that shape our world

Initiated in 2015 by Ming Lin and Alexandra Tatarsky, Shanzhai Lyric is an archival project that works with the language of bootlegged consumer goods produced in China, commonly referred to as shanzhai: Samsing phones, Adadis trainers, Channel handbags.


In Solidarity

The global momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement feels like it has at last reached a tipping point, and not just for statues. The long-term institutional effects of colonial rule and the slave trade must now be acknowledged and acted on.

‘The white community must recognise that white supremacy is not a black issue that they should show empathy for, but a white issue that they should correct’. – Kimberley Jones


Withdrawing My Labour

Evan Ifekoya resigns from Goldsmiths’ art department in a public protest over racism

I refuse to work as a racialised individual who is perceived by default to shoulder anti-racist work because of the colour of my skin.

Open Letter to Goldsmiths’ Senior Management Team

The associate lecturers and graduate trainee tutors of Goldsmiths’ art department protest against a hiring freeze that impacts short-contract staff

Nearly 40% of the institution’s teaching base – 472 jobs – will be cut, yet this represents only 7% of total salary spend. This is an action that will disproportionately affect black people and people of colour, severely diminishing teaching quality in the department.

Unfinished Sentences

Judy Price corrects and clarifies a review of her ‘The End of the Sentence’ exhibition at Stanley Picker Gallery

Holloway Prison was redesigned and rebuilt between 1971 and 1985, not the 1990s, with the aim of replacing the imposing Victorian panopticon structure, known as ‘the Castle’ (the facade of the prison was based on Warwick Castle).


Monument Matters

The government’s true colours are revealed by ministerial responses to recent attacks on statues of racists; US museums divest from the police in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd; Forensic Architecture makes public its research into the UK police killing of Mark Duggan; Forensic Architecture finds itself in the spotlight over a legal challenge to the Whitney Museum’s charitable status; the UK gallery sector tentatively begins to emerge from lockdown; the creative sector is at grave risk from lockdown’s economic fall-out; plus the latest on people, prizes and more.

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Tim Head, The Furies, 2020

Inside Cover Commission

The Furies

Tim Head talks about his artist commission with Patricia Bickers

The Furies refers to the three goddesses of Greek mythology, the Erinyes, whose mission was to seek out and deliver terrible vengeance on those who had committed serious crimes and managed to evade punishment. Various figures currently in positions of power would be prime targets.


Christo (Christo Vladimirov Javacheff) 1935–2020
Axel Lapp

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Tony Conrad, installation view
Koelnischer Kunstverein, Cologne


Tony Conrad

Mark Prince

Here lies the paradox: Tony Conrad was always directing attention to some structural essence, which he was simultaneously discarding, taking it as an expedient pretext for the overthrowing of some nebulous, formerly stable essence.

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Simon Cutts, The World Has Been Empty Since the Postcard, 2020

Artists’ Books

Simon Cutts: The World Has Been Empty Since the Postcard – Fourteen Polemical Postcards

David Briers

You are more likely to notice them sitting on tables in other people’s houses, or used as a bookmark in a second-hand volume. Occasional postcards of this kind have always been difficult to disseminate.

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Pilvi Takala, The Trainee , 2008


Tom Holert: Knowledge Beside Itself – Contemporary Art’s Epistemic Politics

Matthew Bowman

Absenting aesthetics from the field of evaluation means artworks could irrecoverably collapse into the domain of neoliberalism.

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Pauline Boty in Pop Goes the Easel, 1962, directed by Ken Russell


Lisa Tickner: London’s New Scene – Art and Culture in the 1960s

Andrew Wilson

If the internationalism of British art in the 1960s was restricted, operating between the different pulls of Paris, New York and Commonwealth, its nationalism was firmly rooted in London and reflects the framework Lisa Tickner set herself to address: ‘London’s New Scene’.

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Michael John Whelan, Primary Organs, 2020


Michael John Whelan: Primary Organs

Saira Ansari

The film is an elegy to the lungs of the Arabian Gulf – specifically, the coral reef that lines the shores of the UAE, and its fate after the discovery of oil off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

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Willie Doherty, Endless, 2020


Willie Doherty: Endless

Maeve Connolly

The film is attuned to the particular affective intensity of the individual voice, amplified within the resonating chamber of social media. Slipping continually between the roles of victim and perpetrator, the protagonist is the privileged witness to his own suffering.

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Philbert Aime Mbabazi Sharangabo, Keza Lyn, 2017


66th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen

Adam Pugh

Curiously, it was precisely the compression engineered by the online format which opened up previously inaccessible, or at least unaccessed, areas of the festival.

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Penelope Umbrico, untitled, 2020 (34 televisions from Craigslist)


Screen Walks: Penelope Umbrico

Cassandre Greenberg

If one accepts the curatorial notion that the screen is a medium within which to walk, Penelope Umbrico’s ‘Screen Walk’ perhaps most closely resembles a frenzied dash through a busy retail environment.

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Hua Zong, Mask Hunter, 2020


Hua Zong: Mask Hunter

Lin Er-Ying

The filmmaker’s hour-long documentary has taken the Chinese internet by storm and focuses on Lin Dong, a charming 30-year-old Chinese businessman procuring millions of dollars’ worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Turkey in the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic (the entire film was shot in March).

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Marnie Ellen Hertzler, Crestone, 2020


Boiler Room TV: 4:3

Laura Harris

Boiler Room’s curators should know more than most about catering to digital cultural publics; the organisation’s business model has always been predicated on physical distance, eerily primed for a pandemic.


Social Practice and Social Distancing

Art education is the Cinderella of the museums and galleries sector, argues Seth Pimlott, undervalued yet essential

Socially engaged artists and curators whose work relies on interpersonal relationships and the physical proximity of people have, like everyone else, been given pause by the Covid-19 crisis. When your primary medium – the public realm – is taken away from you, how do you continue to work?

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Vallisaari Island

Letter from Helsinki

Dream Archipelago

Laura Robertson

‘We worry about losing the rest of these landscapes, and it’s a rising topic in Finland. When you go to an old forest, you feel in your body this diversity, a bodily, weird feeling. The economic forests are quite boring – not like this fairy-tale here on Vallisaari.’ – Teemu Lehmusruusu

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Huguette Caland, Self Portrait, Bribes de corps, 1973

Letter from Sharjah


Omar Kholeif

What, then, is Arab or Middle Eastern art? What links these art forms? The art of these countries is, as my former department head at art school suggested, linked to a history not necessarily of colonialism but of decolonisation.


Christo & Jeanne-Claude

Henry Lydiate

Reattribution of their joint authorship exemplifies not only Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s realisation that the law could be a key medium for use in their creative palette, but also demonstrates their astute grasp of the business dimensions of their artistic practice that they needed to employ in the realisation of their extraordinarily complex and costly ideas.

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