24 June 2009


My assessor seems to be on a campaign to persuade me to give up painting in favour of a so-called ‘post-material practice’. It is not just my natural perversity that makes me resist this. I am dubious that there is any such thing. Even if there is, I don’t see why it should be either-or rather than both-and.

The obvious example of an immaterial art is performance. Obviously, a performance involves material things, usually at least one body. However, it is not a permanent material thing in the way a painting or sculpture is (yeah, yeah, so I’m using ‘permanent’ loosely here). It is an event, a situation, rather than a thing.

Let’s take Vito Acconci’s Seedbed as an example. It was a specific event that happened in a particular place at a particular time. The vast majority of us know this work through its documentation. Can we really separate the work from the documentation? If so, the vast majority of us do not know the work at all, only the documentation. If not, the work is not only an immaterial event but also its material documentation.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in producing work for a select group who happen to be in the right place at the right time. I’d like my work to be available to anyone who’s interested, regardless of their spacetime co-ordinates. That means producing material objects that exist over time, and to my mind those objects might as well be decent ones like paintings rather than crappy ones like photos.

Related to this is the main reason why I don’t like the term ‘conceptual art’. I consider it redundant. All art is conceptual. Take formalist abstract painting for example. If you showed one to your cat, you wouldn’t get much of a response. That’s because your cat doesn’t bring the concepts to its viewing of the painting that you do (I’m being charitable here, ho ho).

Despite this, I do have an immaterial art work I’d like to do next semester – get the Common-Sense Nihilist Party properly up and running. One of the ideas behind this is to use legal forms as a medium rather than paint. But that's no reason not to do paintings as well.

Speaking of the CSNP, a friend of mine suggested recently that I should do a book of unfinished projects, of which I have a few!


Lil Twister said...

I'm looking forward to the start up CSNP and what it'll operate like.
Also, the first piece of writing has revealed to me a new facet of my own major project and I plan to expand on this. Thanks!

David Cauchi said...

Yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing what it'll operate like as well.

visitors since 29 March 2004.