For a concept of immaterial indestructibility

Bowman, Matthew (2014) For a concept of immaterial indestructibility. In: The Permanence of the Transient. Cambridge Scholars, Cambridge, England, pp. 30-41. ISBN 9781443856980

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Within the field of art theory, “precarity” and “transience” call to mind the debates around dematerialization initiated in the 1960s. Lucy Lippard famously argued that, as an “escape attempt” from the market, conceptual artists developed strategies of dematerialization which correlated with non-object and ephemeral approaches. Rather than discuss dematerialization in relation to ephemerality, this paper seeks to take an opposite perspective: instead of the ephemeral in art, can we talk about indestructibility? Although it might seem counterintuitive to interconnect dematerialization and indestructibility, within the economic sphere, precarity and indestructibility appear dialectically conjoined: the increasingly precariousness of labour is pledged to the alleged “indestructibility” of neoliberal capitalism. To ask questions, then, about indestructibility in art is to invite questions about art’s criticality and oppositionality towards contemporary post-Fordist society.

Two films, which present destruction in the art gallery may serve as a visual contrast of how immaterial art has indestructibility as one of its dimensions. In Tim Burton’s Batman, the Joker and his henchmen destroy paintings and sculptures in Gotham City Museum, while in The International semi-automatic weaponry punctures holes through the Guggenheim, and yet, many of the artworks survive, for they are immaterial video projections. This paper will explore artists—Yves Klein’s voids and immaterial spaces above the Seine, and the work of John Gerrard—that rethink indestructibility through immateriality rather than trying to make material objects tougher, thereby showing the entwining of the precarious and permanence and demonstrating how a rereading of the dematerialization of art is possible

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: art, fine art, transience, art theory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Matthew Bowman
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2021 13:25
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 13:25

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