In Place Of

Sarah Charlesworth, Liz Deschenes, Liz Glynn, Rochelle Goldberg, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Nicolàs Guagnini & Gareth James, Pierre Huyghe, Silvia Kolbowski, Louise Lawler & Allan McCollum, Dana Lok, Lee Lozano, Jean-Luc Moulène, Julia Phillips, Karin Schneider, Lawrence Weiner, and Eric Vysocan

curated by Leah Pires
January 10 — February 21, 2016

“So, where are you? You are in a space that is designed to make any object in the space more visible.”[1]

 

But what about that which is absent? In a space where visibility is currency, how can withdrawal—resistance to representation—become legible?

Most often it can’t. (It’s said that Lee Lozano disappeared without a trace around the time of her Dropout Piece, c. 1970-72, but in fact she remained in New York making undocumented work—with actions, walks, words—for another decade. You won’t find any of it here, though).

But when withdrawal does become palpable, it’s through a placeholder: an object that occupies space in order to gesture toward a lack, an absent agent, or something that has been barred from representation. (Gayatri Spivak observes that representation itself is always a ‘standing-for’ or a ‘speaking-for.’ Gilles Deleuze describes it as a lining or hem, stretched around the borders of the thing it seeks to represent.) The objects in this space stand in for things that are not in this space. They are a form of ‘making do,’ but not an end in themselves.

 

“What does it mean to be invited?”[2]

 

In 1979, a group of female filmmakers were invited to contribute to the exhibition Film as Film: Formal Experiment in Film 1910-75. In the end, they chose to leave their allotted room empty except for a printed statement—“the only form of intervention open to us”—condemning the exhibition committee’s refusal to acknowledge the political (feminist, anti-war, and labor rights) activities of the filmmakers whose work would have been featured.[3]

According to Alberti’s 15th-century treatise on painting, “only that which occupies its place is a representable object.”[4] Which raises the question: what does it mean to have a place?

 

“[A]n object alone is more visible than an object in a group.”[5]
This exhibition brings together works that, in various ways, might be understood as placeholders: for objects withdrawn for legal or political reasons; for absent bodies; for anticipated content; for unfilled desires or needs; for the otherwise forgotten; for those who chose to drop out; or simply because a surrogate was good enough.

An exhibition space, after all, is characterized by the presence of certain things and the willful suppression of others. Where better to examine our own investments?

 


[1] Christopher D’Arcangelo, “Four Texts, for Artists Space,” exhibited in                                               , Louise Lawler, Adrian Piper and Cindy Sherman are participating in an exhibition organized by Janelle Reiring at Artists Space, September 23 to October 28, 1978. Box 1, Folder 4, Series 1, Christopher D’Arcangelo Papers, Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University.

[2] Christopher D’Arcangelo, “Look Out for What You Look At,” 19 June 1978. Box 2, Folder 1, Series 1, Christopher D’Arcangelo Papers. Statement written in response to a retracted invitation to participate in a group exhibition at Rosa Esman Gallery in June 1978.

[3] Annabel Nicolson, Felicity Sparrow, Jane Clarke, Jeannette Iljon, Lis Rhodes, Mary Pat Leece, Pat Murphy, Susan Stein, “Woman and the Formal Film.” Film as Film: Formal Experiment in Film 1910-1975. Exh. cat. London: Hayward Gallery South Bank, 1979. The authors of the statement had intended to use the space to present the work of Maya Deren, Germaine Dulac, and Alice Guy.

[4] Bernard Siegert, “(Not) in Place: The Grid, or, Cultural Techniques of Ruling Spaces,” in Cultural Techniques: Grids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Real, translated by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015), 100.

[5] D’Arcangelo, “Four Texts, for Artists Space.”