THE catalogue!

| October 16th, 2013, 5:25 PM

2013 carnegie international catalogue cover

This is the freshest catalogue I have seen in a long time. Artist Pierre Leguillon said that it looks like an annual report—and it somehow is: no gimmicks but full of information worth its price. Or as New York Times critic Roberta Smith put it: “excellent.” It has new texts on all artists written by Dan Byers, Amanda Donnan, Tina Kukielski, Raymund Ryan, Lauren Wetmore, and myself. You can listen to one of them here, the e-mail interview with Wade Guyton.

The catalogue contains an introduction explaining what this show is about—see an excerpt below—as well as three essays by the co-curators laying out their different points of view. Art historian Robert Bailey explores the International’s unique history and its relationship to the museum’s collection; urban planner Gabriela Burkhalter contributes a pioneering article on the history of playgrounds—with amazing pictures. You will also find a quite engaging text from 1961 by former Carnegie Museum of Art director Gordon Bailey Washburn, unaware of the transformations the 1960s were about to unfurl; a scheme about play by the French intellectual Roger Callois from 1958; an introduction to abstraction by Chicago curator Katharine Kuh from 1951; a quasi-abstract reflection on the difference between art and action by French poet Stéphane Mallarmé from 1897; an astonishingly contemporary set of claims for a better use of public space by artist Robert Rauschenberg from 1968; an ode to the power of laziness as a form of resistance by exhibition artist Mladen Stilinović from 1993; and a reflection on spam describing the conditions of our technological world by artist and writer Hito Steyerl from 2011.

And hey, 1,000 thanks go to Katie Reilly, THE&OUR director of publication and to Chad Kloepfer and Jeff Ramsey, THE designers! More pictures!

Excerpt from the introduction:
Despite social media, the Internet, and our global information economy, it still makes a difference if you live in Tehran, a village near Kraków, Johannesburg, or Los Angeles. Yet all of the artists in the exhibition, while working from and within a local context, translate their views into pictures, sculptures, concepts, or installations that can travel and be accessed and understood by a broad audience. Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh offers, through the Carnegie International, a unique and recurring platform for these voices, and it is our pleasure to make them heard, knowing that listening is not always the easiest thing to do. But contemporary art is more than trophies on the wall, assets in a portfolio, or a conquest stored away in a safe. It takes a high form of troublemaking to transform our thinking, if not our lives—“for a better future,” as Los Angeles artist Frances Stark recently put it. Some might find such intentions embarrassing and idealist. Forty, fifty years ago, art was meant to change the world and utopia was just around the corner. In the end, it wasn’t there, so the desire for redemption shifted toward theories and their promises. The 1980s came and went, a decade marked—for some—by deconstruction, simulation, postmodernism, and nightlong discussions about Derrida, Lyotard, Barthes, Benjamin, and the end of history. The art market crashed soon after, in the early 1990s, only to resurrect itself around 2000 stronger than ever. It is normal and good that grand ideas die and ambitious theories fade. Yet it is unsatisfying to be left with a dominant popular conception that art finds its sole expression of power in the monetary realm.

While organizing the 2013 Carnegie International, once in a while we confessed to each other that we do what we do because we are convinced that art makes life better. It was almost a secret. And now we’ve decided to come out, here and now. We love art because it is a troublemaker that changes our thinking and even our lives.

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