Afterall: Wendelien van Oldenborgh

The Spring 2012 edition of Afterall (no. 29) contains articles on Wendelien van Oldenborgh by Emily Pethick and by me. My essay focuses on her three slide pieces Après la reprise, la prise (2009), Pertinho de Alphaville (2010) and Supposing I love you. And you also love me (2011).

The text is online in its entirety here.

Daan van Golden

A master in the art of the delay, Daan van Golden achieved a certain level of success in the Pop decade of the 1960s only to retreat from public activities following the 1968 documenta, using the Dutch subsidy system to make a living rather than a career. Having recommenced exhibiting his art around 1980, Van Golden's renown remained largely confined to the Netherlands until recently, with exhibitions at the Camden Arts Center, Greene Naftali, and now a carefully curated retrospective at Wiels in Brussels. Van Golden's work thus seems poised to arrive in the present, in the present-day culture industry. I was invited to contribute an essay to the catalogue of the Wiels exhibition, and I decided to use this opportunity reflect on the complex role of Van Golden's practice in (and often against) developments in the cultural economy since the 1960s.

From the introduction: "Daan van Golden’s works are marked by precise attention to the properties of the mediums employed by the artist. This would seem to invite a formalist analysis, or rather a structuralist one—for van Golden’s early Pop abstractions, the “handkerchief” and “wrapping paper” paintings, already mock the limitations of formalism, playing off form-as-form against form as a codified, signifying structure. While such works thus make it abundantly clear that they should not be regarded as self-sufficient forms, I want to argue that, since the 1970s in particular, van Golden’s work also frustrates structuralist readings that disparage the social context as extraneous to the production of meaning. What I propose to do here is analyse van Golden’s practice in the context of changing economical and social conditions—globally, but also, and specifically, in the Netherlands. Of course, the aim is not to read art as a mere superstructural or ideological reflection of an economic and social base. If anything, the point should be that the economy’s increasing dependence on intellectual and cultural labour makes the problematic—or dialectic—relation between these two more complicated than ever. Van Golden’s works can be seen as constituting a series of interventions in the changing conditions of cultural production."

The retrospective at Wiels is on view until 29 April; the catalogue will be ready towards the end of the show's run. The image shows an installation view with a dialogue between two exercises in framing and ornithology: an untitled 1965 collage in the foreground and Birds (1986) in the background.

[A note on the name: In Dutch the full name is "Daan van Golden" with a lower-case v, but when only the the last name is used it is "Van Golden" with a capital V. Since this is rather confusing to the majority of the world's population, Wiels consistently uses "van Golden."]

VU University Research Master's Programme

A call for applications for VU University's Research Master's Programme Visual Arts, Media and Architecture (VAMA) has gone out on the Art & Education list.

The conditions under which academic teaching and research take place are rapidly deteriorating in the Netherlands, and across much of Europe. In his farewell speech for visiting professor Jae Emerling before the holidays, my colleague Wouter Davidts invoked Adorno's short text "IQ" from Minima Moralia,  "about the fate of intellectual labor in an era of an ever-growing technocracy," in which thought is constantly disciplined by being subjected to performance checks. One should not forget that Adorno's stark and total indictments were always coupled with what is fundamentally a labour of optimism: with teaching, and in doing so making the most of the framework, bending it to meet needs unforeseen by politico-economical imperatives. 

All over Europe, faculties are trying to do just that, often against opposition from managers and members of the "support staff." As a two-year programme in which advanced students in art history and related disciplines can develop their intellectual capacities and their research skills and research agenda, I believe that VAMA is doing quite a good job at doing what matters. Due to a bit of classic bureaucratic obstructionism from a "communication consultant" employed by the university, a link to the blog that gives an impression of VAMA's activities was omitted from the announcement; it can be found

An announcement on an international mailing list such as this is itself a symptom of the economistic logic that forces us to grow or perish. But while this may not be the kind
of internationalization that we aspire to, it does have good effects on the student population, which has become more diverse and ambitious. The real problem is of course that international students are increasingly seen as cash cows, with manifests itself in rising tuition for students from non-EEA countries in particular. There is, however, the possibility of applying for a VU Fellowship. Information on tuition fees can be found here, and on the fellowship programme here.

The deadline for applications is 1 April, or 1 March if you apply for the fellowship program.

Image: Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Supposing I love you. And you also love me, 2001 (production still)