Flash Points

New Flash Points topic: Systems

Two Person Fight (One Orange): With Spectator, 2004. Three dimensional digital archival print with acrylic paint on sintra, dibon and gatorfoam panels, 84 x 79 inches. © John Baldessari, courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.

John Baldessari, "Two Person Fight (One Orange): With Spectator," 2004. Three dimensional digital archival print with acrylic paint on sintra, dibon and gatorfoam panels, 84 x 79 inches. © John Baldessari, courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.

In celebration of the fifth season of Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century, premiering this fall on PBS, the current round of Flash Points topics correspond to our four thematic episodes: Compassion, Fantasy, Transformation, and Systems.

Lastly, after a series of illuminating posts on Transformation (thanks to our fabulous guest editor Hrag Vartanian), we conclude this series with Systems. The Systems episode features artists who realize complex projects, whether through acts of appropriation, accumulation, collaboration, or creating projects so vast in scope as to elude comprehension.

L: Shapes from Maine: Shapes Copper Cookie Cutters, 2005/2008. Polished copper, 5 1/2 x 3 2/3 x 1 inches each, each unique, formed in copper by hand. Produced in collaboration with Holly and Larry Little, founders of Aunt Holly's Copper Cookie Cutters, Trescott, Maine. Photo by Lamay Photo, © Allan McCollum, courtesy Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York. R: Stadia II, 2004. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 108 x 144 inches. Collection of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, Gift of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn and A.W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund. Photo by Richard Stoner, © Julie Mehretu, courtesy the artist and The Project, New York.

Left: Allan McCollum, "Shapes from Maine: Shapes Copper Cookie Cutters," 2005/2008. Polished copper, 5 1/2 x 3 2/3 x 1 inches each, each unique, formed in copper by hand. Produced in collaboration with Holly and Larry Little, founders of Aunt Holly's Copper Cookie Cutters, Trescott, Maine. Photo by Lamay Photo, © Allan McCollum, courtesy Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York. Right: Julie Mehretu, "Stadia II," 2004. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 108 x 144 inches. Collection of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, Gift of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn and A.W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund. Photo by Richard Stoner, © Julie Mehretu, courtesy the Artist and The Project, New York.

Keeping with Flash Points tradition, we always highlight a key question to consider over the course of a topic’s run. To this end, we ask:

Can art transcend paradigms?

Additional questions to ponder include:

  • How and why do artists use systems?
  • Why do we find comfort in some systems while rebelling against others?
  • What new forms of grammar and logic do artists invent in today’s supercharged, information-based society?

Throughout this time, we’ll publish in-depth posts about the artists profiled in SystemsJohn Baldessari, Kimsooja, Julie Mehretu, and Allan McCollum— as well as feature musings from our roster of guest writers, extending the theme beyond the series to real world networks, matrices, conventions, and subversions.

Cities On The Move - 2727 km Bottari Truck, 1997. Single channel video projection, silent, 7:33 minute loop. © Kimsooja, courtesy the artist.

Kimsooja, "Cities On The Move - 2727 km Bottari Truck," 1997. Single channel video projection, silent, 7:33 minute loop. © Kimsooja, courtesy the artist.

Help us start the conversation by leaving a comment below. Feel free to note other artists whose work addresses the topic of systems — we’d love to collectively envision a broader landscape of how it is considered in contemporary art practice. And save the date for the premiere Systems episode which debuts nationwide October 28, 2009 on PBS!

Contributor
Art21 Director of Special Projects
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  2. Cydney says:

    This Baldessari piece is full of interesting tension. The cropping and positioning of this orange figure really draws attention to this, and gives the piece the feeling of being strangled. The area I see this most is in the woman’s eyes in the left corner. Baldessari’s mixture of appropriation and newer media is really effective and inspiring.

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  3. Nancy says:

    I saw the documentary today at the royal academy of art in The Hague. I really like the work of Kimsooja. The openings scene of her item reminds me of the work of Cang Xin, an Chinese artists that use performances to communicate with nature in a harmonious way. They both try to give us back a feeling of tradition, rituals and beauty.

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