Texte zur Kunst no. 85: Agency

Texte zur Kunst no. 85 (March 2012) contains a thematic section called "Art History Revisited" as well as a number of Mike Kelley obituaries, and of course the review section. I contributed a short review of Agency's exhibition at Objectif in Antwerp. From the review:

"As Agency is an agency with a generic name, so its exhibitions have a generic form: cheap foldable tables with one numbered 'thing' per table, represented by an object or image (labeled 'specimen'), lit by a single lamp hanging directly above the table, with a clipboard holding some sheets with information on the property lawsuit connected to the object in question. This generic format does in fact allow for a great variety, and when the number of tables is sizable, as it is here, the effect borders on the bewildering. Speculation on the protection of ideas leads Matthys to investigate both a robotic teddy bear and one minute of silence on a CD, both a logo for Olympic TV coverage and an abstract mural (which is, naturally, presented on the wall rather than on one of the tables). To one side, there is a wall of shelving with boxes containing additional things, which may be consulted by visitors.

"The visual appearance of Agency’s installations recalls the commodity art of the late 1980s, Haim Steinbach’s shelving in particular – with a hint of Mark Dion’s taxonomic displays. In fact, one of the boxes in the stacks contains thing 001574, a bookend based on Koons’ Balloon Dog sculptures. The producer was sued by Koons for copyright infringement—a remarkable turn of events, given that Koons was often on the receiving end of lawsuits. More recently, it was Richard Prince who was adjudged to have broken the law with his use of images from a book on Rastafarians. In general, Appropriation and Commodity art have increasingly been at odds with intellectual property law (copyright, trademarks, patents), which has taken on an ever greater importance in post-Fordist 'semiotic' capitalism. Contemporary art is of course an integral part of this regime, as reflected by the legalistic turn inaugurated by Conceptual art, when what was sold was no longer an object but a certificate, a protocol. This development is in fact at the roots of Agency’s interest in the contested nature of commodities."