Wherefore art thou, Intersection?

When I prepared for the MESTC “Intersections with Art & Performance” a couple of weeks back, I asked a similar question to my wonderful colleague Mr. Watt about the necessity of disciplinary division. Kenn’s post-event thoughts resonate much with my own: while the issue was raised, mostly in terms of commercial and institutional requisites, it certainly wasn’t fleshed out, let alone solved (which is probably impossible). But am I disappointed? Not at all.

Just like the questions Kenn and I have asked, along with those of the participants of the event, the only problem of the evening is in the name. Perhaps it would be best just to shed it altogether, unless this is the issue folks really want to dive into.

Otherwise, however, the evening was a collection of amazing people who can speak about their work, artistic or curatorial, with eloquence, relevance, and humility. Needless to say, these are all rare qualities to see in action, and I was delighted by the presentations of Sharon, Alix, Eric and Maggie, and Nancy. It almost counts against the title of the evening that each presenter lacked pretense: instead, it was a great opportunity to engage with artists and contemporary issues in their works, both in formal presentation and conversations over cups of wine.

Alix drew a fascinating picture of an almost full-circle return to video art’s roots in the 1960s, when artists like Dan Graham, Nam June Paik, Douglas Davis, and Joan Jonas were in direct collaboration with Judson School minimalism and postmodern movement.

Sharon provided an autobiographical struggle with the boundaries and labels of disciplinary work, both from within and without herself, and brought identity politics as resonant and emotional still in contemporary work (who knew?).

Radiohole played a game of Beat the Clock with their PowerPoint presentation, which only reinforced the quality of their work. Including many performance photos, the presentation reminded me of how their stage images, compositions, and experiments are still some of the best of the past decade. Their performance documents were works of art in and of themselves.

Nancy concerned herself much with the presence of the artist in the visual art world, focusing on the recent exhibition of Tino Sehgal and, of course, Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle. She implicitly drew a history of the artist’s trace, whether through a Pollockian action (as Kenn discussed Phelan’s Ontology), leaving an indelible print that animates architectural space, or through the physical presence of the artist (such as Abramovic’s current “The Artist Is Present,” an awful, pretentious pun at worst, at MoMA).

All in all, Gavin Kroeber’s moderation and curating for the evening provided a useful and exciting glimpse into the thoughts and processes of the artists. If the issue of interdisciplinarity will be, or even should be discussed was, in the best of all possible ways, seems irrelevant.

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