The notes below by Billy Gruner relate to the upcoming exhibition at Croxhapox. See previous posts for further details.
UND is a simple yet questioning title used for an annual show on Contemporary Non-Objective Art. This year in September it is held at Croxhapox, Gent, Belgium. Looking closely, it is an unusual international program. First, it has been curated since 2006 by a small group of artists without any budget. Secondly, the use of a somewhat blunt title remains intentional and functional. As in the previous group shows, a punk attitude aims to present a certain flavor to a complex art-historical discourse.
Croxhapox is not a typical gallery either way. Because of its non-selective design, it is seen as a place of art critical focus, and an appropriately chosen space on the contemporary route that this particular set of artists seeks to engage. They are able to do this from many entry angles because travel is easier and faster than ever. But most importantly, because physically meeting is a necessary process to go through in order to find inspiration from others interested in a development of relational critical concerns.
In short, UND 2008, like UND 2006 held at Chiellerie in Amsterdam in 2006 and, UND Jetzt held at IS in Leiden in 2007, is the latest of a series shows that are, in a sense, homogenate - an evolving event providing a unique yearly convergence. If restated, UND 2008 is the latest opportunity for various artists to continue their participation or, selective viewing of new works from out of a greater array of activities. These may fall under the banner of Presentational Art (US), Super Formalism or Minimal Pop (EU) or, as it is sometimes defined in Australia, Post Formalism - as just three examples of fresher terminology in use. The list of artists participating in this particular gathering is by no means comprehensive or, representational. Nor is it a surveying event – that is not possible. Nevertheless, they form one group that has come together from other spaces and sets of associated connections. Curiously, this is an established network that has no name or structure per se or, any managerial style or directorship to speak of. Yet, it is a self-regulating identity regardless. In my opinion, the symbolism is very interesting as artists connect out of recommendation - through working with each other.
This process is in certain ways uncommon to witness within global or localised contemporary art productions. And perhaps for these reasons it may remain something that others consider difficult. I am unsure how I became involved but I am glad I did as I continue to find the unique social aspect a rewarding and demanding aspect of practice. In this manner, it is the social that determines. Just as that integral process of clarification assists in how new language may be fittingly used. That is an important metering process, and an activity I now personally respect. For instance, questions of style or modes or practice are understood or rejected collectively within an internationally based milieu growing more aware of its language patterns each year.
Actually, I find this a stunning attribute of cosmopolitanism rarely experienced, and the UND program in my opinion is a significant opportunity in the contemporary art world were regionalism, factionalism, and an incomprehensible system of social stratifications that may appear utterly unjustified, remain trenchant – even after the modernist and post-modern eras have seemingly elapsed. Probably what is more interesting overall about this unsolicited network is a stringent ability to develop, expand, and engage traction with other interested artists, gallerists, collectors, outside of more conventional systems.
The influence of artists such as Tilman and director Petra Bungert from CCNOA, Jan and Karen van der Ploeg from PS in Amsterdam, Daniel Gottin and Gerda Maise from Hebel 121 in Basel, like that of the long standing support provided by John Nixon from AC4CA and SNO in Australia, and Matthew Deleget and Rossana Martinez from Minus Space in New York, are just a few examples that come to mind whose collective import should not be underestimated in those terms. It is their efforts amongst many others running back decades that have led to the greater development of credibility for what remains today, a vastly misunderstood genre. Perhaps little has changed concerning perceptions on the purely abstract since Delauney and Van Doesburg first questioned Mondriaan’s rather static relations or reliance on a fundamentally figurative imaging in an classic abstract modality – and in view of the vastly greater currency that the De Stijl movement continues to offer – it matters to redress.
Importantly, the growing acceptance of concrete artistic concerns worldwide for example, directs our attention to the possible appearance of the significance of generics for instance. Certainly it is illustrative of one area of ongoing artistic and optimistic investigation after the 20thcentury and, the specific places where many artists are seeking to engage ideas via newly presented realities. But that revolutionary topical matter currently being opened out in the Sydney Biennale is of less concern here. The discourse un-coverable through the UND program is more generally about a kind of alternate movement, and its overall consistency, historically speaking. It is one zone of contact that in general terms has remained relatively unconcerned by overt critiques, furphy, and the like. Just as it is driven by newer groups of artists and fans who continue finding currencies worth defining.