“The creation of a documentary installation is…the true goal of any happening, performance or intervention art - even if the artists working in these fields mostly tend to reflect on their own art in different terms.”—Open Systems: Rethinking Art (62).
“The contemporary artist is once aga a technician, a producer. But now the artist is no longer an artisan or worker but a project developer and project manager who produces the artistic project documentation by analogy to technical documentation.”—Open Systems: Rethinking Art (62).
Every installation represents a particular selection process that determines which objects are included and which excluded in an installation, and in which locations inside the space of the installation they must be placed according to the overall organisation of this space. The person responsible for the selection procedure is an individual artists, but every individual selection is supposed not only to exemplify a system of private judgements, preferences and attitudes, but also to be socially, culturally and politically anchored and thus to some degree ‘representative’. The assumption lends the mimesis of certain systems of thought a critical, polemical activity. The installation can become the site of ideological critique, precisely because it operates on the same terrain of selective thinking that ideology does.
“Minimalist & post-Minimalist installations here become not only a place of representation of thinking, but at the same time a place of critique of this representation”—Open Systems: Rethinking Art (60).
“In search of an even more precise representation, the images become increasingly abstract and the system of depiction becomes increasingly incomprehensible, esoteric, incommunicable, ‘mystical’.”—In reference to Ilya Kaakov, The Big Archive, 1993. In Open Systems: Rethinking Art (60).
“The more one struggles to depict the system as a whole, the more one gets lost in the smallest detail, until one loses sight of the whole once and for all”—Ilya Kabokov. In Open Systems: Rethinking Art(60).
“If, for example, artists are asked why they chose precisely this rule of variation and not another, they can explain it either by falling back once again on their own contingent, subjective, creative decisions or by reference to a meta-system that determines the choice of the specific rule in each individual case. Such a reference to an even-higher meta-level system, however, famously leads to insoluble logical paradoxes that in turn can be eliminated only by the contingent decision to limit the system.”—Open Systems: Rethinking Art (60)
“Thinking is understood to mean a step-by-step movement from one option to the other, from one variation to the other within an overarching, virtual system that incorporates and arranges all such concievable options and variations.”—Open Systems: Rethinking Art (56).
“An installation does not present itself to visitors as a stage that can only be observed from a certain position, but as a space for the flaneur, for walking from one art object to the other. The viewer’s movement from one art object to the other is guided by the same system of rules that determines the space between the individual artworks in an installation by linking those artworks by a series of reiterations and modifications.”—Open Systems: Rethinking Art (56).
“If the creative act itself is part of a certain system and guided from the beginning by a certain set of rules, then the artist has a unique inner access to the system. And this means that the artist has a unique competence and power in dealing with this system, and potentially with any possible system.”—Open Systems: Rethinking Art (52).
“Accordingly, the advanced art of this time understood the individual act of art production as being originally regulated by a ‘system’, as following a certain general rule from the beginning, and as being inscribed into a certain social practice”—Open Systems: Rethinking Art (52)
“Minimal & Conceptual art: ‘In this context an individual artwork was understood as being inscribed in a certain system of image production and communication from the start’.”—Open Systems: Rethinking Art (52).
“Many artists of this period deliberately used the words ‘all’ (or its synonym, ‘every’) in the titles of their works, mimicking their generational predecessor’s desires for an art of totality and trancendence, but emptying out these pretensions at the same time.”—Open Systems: Rethinking Art (46).
“Open systems is offered as a term that characterises the widespread preoccupation in art produced by a cross section - In the mid- and latre 1960’s words such as ‘system’, ‘structure’ and ‘process’ has particular currency in art and in culture.”—Donna De Slavo - Open Systems: Rethinking Art history. (13)
“Works whose materials and means are determined less my traditional media that by the efforts to realise a concept or idea with whatever means are most effective”—Donna De Salvo. Open Studio: Rethinking Art c.1970. (13).
“Many artists were eager to re-engage reference without forfieting the lessons leaned from the narrower formal problems that defined the early 1960’s”—Donna De Salvo. Open Systems: Rethinking Art c.1970. (13).
One of the things that I think is really important for an artist is how other artists look at him or her, and especially how the next generation looks at you - how you influence them. This is not given, but I do definately believe that it is how the younger generation of art makers are influenced by your work as much as possible and arguing for it. You really had to claim your intellectual property rights - for lack of a better phrase - especially if you were not building something, or if the work was not some physical object - or at least a picture of it - that everyone can concur about seeing somewhere.
- Seth Siegelaub interviewed by John Slyce. In Playmaker. Art Monthly (327).
“One this is very clear to me - that art really is a social activity. It is not just one person who comes up with great ideas and everyone else follows. When you look at it - when you live it - it is a very comlicated mess.”—Seth Siegelaub. In The Playmaker. Art Monthly (327).
JS: One of the moves that can specifically be ascribed to you was a move to bring the secondary forward to absolutely displace the primary. For example, The Xerox Book with Jack Wendler in 1968 and further to that, the catalogue - or the interviews - that were put forward in place of anything more concrete.
SS: It was also, in part, to do with the realisation that many people knew art (rightly or wrongly - I would say mostly wrongly) from what they saw in magazines. In other words more people know art from reading about it or looking at pictures of it, than they ever do from seeing the physical object. And, obviously, seeing the physical object is absolutely critical - with sculpture it is scale, size, place and that stuff. But also, for my part, it was to do with going some place - I mean, the whole cultural situation. These people were producing work - other people were too - which wasn’t information about something, it was the thing itself. And so you didn’t have to go any further. You didn’t have to go to a space to see a Huebler, it was presented to you and me in the format of a book - which obviously led me to work on the idea of the book as an exhibition space, if you like.
JS: Also the form of advertisement. The ad for the Huebler show, combined with the page, is the final form of the piece.
SS: Yes. The idea of specificity of place got picked up and became a very important aesthetic issue. Before us, to a large degree - maybe entirely, now that I think about it - an artwork was more or less autonomous. Obviously, it related to artworks before and alongside it, but basically you could stick it anywhere. The Huebler ad is a documentation, but it is also a documentation that only makes sense in a certain space, in a certain time, and is defined in terms of that.
JS: It established a radical equality between the work and its publicity.
SS: Yes, though for me publicity for me publicity has a negative ring.
“Grahams dialectical conception of visual representation polemically collapsed the difference between the spaces of production and those of reproduction (what Seth Siegelaub called primary/secondary). Anticipating the work’s actual modes of distribution and reception within its very structure of production. Homes for America elimated the difference between an exhibition f art objects and the photograph of its installation, the difference between the architectural space of the gallery and the space of the catalogue and art magazine.”—Benjamin Buchloh. 1990. Conceptual Art: From the aesthetics of administration to the critique of institutions. (124).