DATE: 7/24/2011 | BY MING LIN
"IF IN FACT THERE IS A CONTEXT..." begins Lawrence Weiner, rather skeptically, in his contribution to Hatje Cantz and Documenta's series, 100 Notes, 100 Thoughts. Weiner, a formative figure of the conceptual art movement, is known for his bold typographic works displayed as wall installations. His very literal phrases—for example the famous work "A 36" X 36" REMOVAL TO THE LATHING OR SUPPORT WALL OF PLASTER OR WALL-BOARD FROM A WALL"—lead the viewer to question whether the work of art is the object or action described or the text itself. Like Joseph Kosuth's 1965 "One and Three Chairs" piece, which features a chair, a photograph of the same chair and a copy of the dictionary definition of the word "chair," Weiner's work invites ambiguity in order to interrogate themes such as what an original work of art consists of and how meaning is made.
Weiner's notebook is 24 pages, printed in A6 format—the exact same dimensions as his contribution to Documenta 5 in 1972—the first year he was asked to participate. According to New York Times art critic Roberta Smith, the 1972 festival was notable as an early example of "the exhibition as spectacle," and was filled with hysteria and misunderstanding. Undoubtedly much of this excitement was stirred by the growing prevalence of conceptual art. Curator of the festival, the visionary Swiss art historian Harald Szeemann, attempted to relate art to wider social and cultural realities by collapsing the boundaries of the art and the everyday. Conceptual works like Weiner’s confounded expectations of what could be considered art, refuting the notion that it had to be fixed in context and materiality.
Affixed to different surfaces and spaces, Weiner’s work has the potential to extend art outside of its exclusive spheres.
Lawrence Weiner: If in Fact There is A Context
HATJE CANTZPbk, 4.25 x 5.75 in. / 24 pgs.$10.00 free shipping