Sunday, August 30, 2020

Tetsumi Kudo at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art


Before CAD the largest vault of images were catalogs, expensive, locked in coastal university libraries. Acquiring them you would get maybe one good image of an installation and a lecture, essay. This is how we learned about art. The "contemporary" you had walk to see. Sending it around meant describing it to friends. What was going on in Zurich was a faint smattering of bad images on a website like steam engines. Then, around the cusp of the 2010s, suddenly enough everything changed. The most ephebic artist's exhibitions were each documented in 40+ crisp images in pornographic lighting that could be sent instantly, everywhere. And in the center, in the palm of your hand, the campfire CAD. I have no hard statistics about actual numbers in the increase in documentation but the difference is total. There are more images of many 30 year old artists exhibitions circulating than Bruce Nauman's entire career. There is a Before CAD and an After Daily in this history of art. The deluge of contemporary images, simply by mere quantity, threatens an occlusion. Bruce Nauman or Eva Hesse is safe, but the early-career 90s artist might be completely lost. Early/Pruitt, or Art Club 2000, for ones we actually remember.

The Artworld has always been attempting "rediscovery."How many times is Kudo himself going to be "rediscovered." But the term seems more loaded now, like pulling things out of an oblivion. It had been that books rested on shelves for long terms next to each other, discovery was there, all lined up right next each other. But the attention economy changes the shelves' equalizing nature into a quicksand in which viewing must be continually renewed, pulled up into the top of the feed, refreshed at the top of the page, requiring a publicity, an action, a press. The ideology of the institutional acquisition gets replaced with the ideology of attention. "Rediscovery" might not be a limited action on historical subjects but the act that we are now engaging with constantly, eternally, daily, asking to be seen.

This was all originally to say thanks to the Louisiana Museum for putting the full catalog online, and to CAD for hosting it. Though PDFs are brutally cumbersome, they feel more sane than the disenfranchised images that circulate online. Hopefully someday the artworld invents something better.