Can destruction ever be productive?
Since the early 1960s, artists have cut, sliced, burned, blurred, erased, daubed-over, pulled down, ripped, sawn, shot, acid-bombed, exploded, smashed, crushed, compressed or even masticated their material to explore the meaning of their artistic processes.
From iconoclasm to anti-art, editor of the latest in the Documents of Contemporary Art series Sven Spieker is joined by artist Monica Bonvicini and theorist John Roberts to discuss the uses and politics of destruction in art, from Gustav Metzger to Michael Landy.
This event launches Destruction: Documents of Contemporary Art, published by the Whitechapel Gallery and MIT press.
Sven Spieker teaches in the Comparative Literature Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He specializes in modern and contemporary art and literature, with an emphasis on issues related to documentary and knowledge production in art.
Spieker has lectured and published on topics ranging from the historical avant-garde (Malevich, Rodchenko, Dziga Vertov) to late 20th-century art practice from Wolfgang Kippenberger to subREAL. His books and articles have appeared in German, Korean, Russian, Swedish, Polish, and English. Spieker has organized several international conferences (most recently: The Office in the Studio: The Administration of Modernism at the University of Jena, Germany).
Spieker’s latest book publication focused on the archive as a crucible of European modernism (The Big Archive, MIT Press, 2008; Korean translation 2014). Spieker is the founding editor of ARTMargins Print and a member of the editorial collective that runs ARTMargins Online.
Monica Bonvicini emerged as visual artist and started exhibiting internationally in the mid-1990s. Her multifaceted practice—which investigates the relationship between architecture, power, gender, space, surveillance and control—is translated into works that question the meaning of making art, the ambiguity of language, and the limits and possibilities attached to the ideal of freedom.
Bonvicini has earned several awards, including the Golden Lion at the Biennale di Venezia (1999); the Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst, from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (2005); and the Rolandpreis für Kunst for art in the public from the Foundation Bremen, Germany (2013). Since 2003 she holds a position as Professor for Performative Arts and Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Beginning in October 2017 she assumes the professorship for sculpture at the Universität der Künste, Berlin. She lives and works in Berlin.
Professor John Roberts is an internationally known writer, in the areas of art theory, cultural philosophy, and art and political philosophy. He is currently leader of the Research Cluster, ‘Art, Philosophy and Social Practice’ in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Wolverhampton. In his earlier career he worked as an art critic and curator, organizing major exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery, the Venice Biennale and Camerawork, London, along with projects in Hamburg and Liverpool.