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Position of Conflict
June 15, 2011, 5:53 pm
Filed under: Art, Exhibition, Life!, Opinion | Tags:

These past few weeks as a new college grad have been languid.  I browse job postings on the internet, apply for a few here and there, and give up hope before even a week goes by knowing fully well that the application was merely another exercise in writing cover letters.  There is something static about this string of motions.  Browse, write, send, wait, repeat.  Browse, write, send, wait, repeat. Browse write send wait repeat.  I am not alone in this dance.  Although many of the people I know had secured jobs as lawyer’s secretaries, teacher’s aides, data entry ‘specialists’ before school had even ended, I know even more people, like myself, who are stuck in the groove between societal and personal expectation.

My colleagues and I are coming of age in a time of great contradiction.  While we consider journalism to be a triumph of first amendment rights, people are being flagged or followed for mindless Facebook posts.  While it is projected as an era of entrepreneurialism,  it seems to many of us impossible to secure a job or succeed independently.  We are a generation in which our passions  contend with expectation.  We are at war with the notion of institution.

This view was crystalized in my interview with Drew McKenzie, Graham Hamilton, and Alex LaLiberte–three graduating  NYU students who spoke with me about the upcoming exhibition, curated by McKenzie and contributed to by all, entitled “Position of Conflict.”  The exhibition’s title is derived from “Exchange of Views of a Group of Experts,” the literature produced following a series of meetings between Pierre Gaudibert, Pontus Hulten, Michael Kustow, Jean Leymarie, Francois Mathey, Georges Henri Riviere, Harald Szeemann, and Eduard de Wilde in 1970.  The meetings served as a space in which to discuss the museum or gallery as institution and the limits space places on the authenticity of the work of art.

“The museum has become more critical both of art and of itself, because it has become aware of its function outside daily life. It does indeed function outside the system, sets itself up in opposition to the Establishment, yet continually shows itself to be an instrument of the system. Like art it is a cosmetic medium, not absolutely essential. This inner contradiction in the role of the museum – that it is the epitome of the system, but at the same time relatively free to criticize it – is important for the museum of today and for its immediate future. To put it bluntly, the ideal museum would be the one that was closed by the authorities. The museum can only function towards promoting artistic interests provided it is outside the restraints of society. Because it is none the less subject to the rules of society, it falls into a position of conflict, which is aggravated by the fact that the authorities like to see highly controversial subjects discussed within an art context, because they are thereby rendered harmless.”

In our interview, my guests explained the exhibition’s multitudinous approach to the theme of conflict; the conflict that arises between artist and purveyor, the conflict that arises within the artist, who seeks to determine their audience.

In ways, “Position of Conflict” is a social token of Generation Y’s struggle amongst the X’s and Boomers.  Like the gallery or museum, while we’re expected to situate within them, their white walls seem to hold no place for us. It is adventurers like McKenzie and the show’s contributing artists, who dig deeper into the groove between personal and societal expectations, who, through exploration, are finding their own, unique space.

There will be an opening reception for “Position of Conflict” on July 7th, at 6pm in the Wagner Gallery of the Puck Building at Houston and Lafayette (295 Lafayette).  The event is open to the public via RSVP at wagner.nyu.edu/events. The exhibition runs July 7th through August 31st.  Summer viewing hours are Monday–Thursday 9:00am-7:00pm, Fridays 9:00am-5:00pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays).

Contributing artists:

Jonathan Donaldson
Nick Etre
Graham Hamilton
Seth Hamlin
Alex LaLiberte
Drew G. McKenzie
Carolyn Park
Ken Q. Volk IV
Jordan Walczak

[audio https://files.nyu.edu/zar205/public/Position%20of%20Conflict%203.mp3]

Zoe Rosenberg

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This was written by Zoe.

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