On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers--including artists, critics, writers, and curators--to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Heidi Rabben, graduate student in Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts.
What does the process of making mean for artists and other cultural producers today? Artist and activist Paul Chan offers one response to this question in an essay titled “What art is and where it belongs” where he discusses his expectations of himself as an artist and his experience making art in the following way:
“What art ends up expressing is the irreconcilable tension that results from making something, while intentionally allowing the materials and things that make up that something to change the making in mind. This dialectical process compels art to a greater and greater degree of specificity, until it becomes something radically singular, something neither wholly of the mind that made it, nor fully the matter from which it was made. It is here that art incompletes itself, and appears.”
In this excerpt, Chan intriguingly describes the process of art making, something often bound to notions of materiality and tangibility, as a dialectical process that contains an irreconcilable tension between the maker and and the product of his making. That Chan sees this incompletion as precisely the method by which art can extend itself and become something else, raises interesting and important questions about the blurring of art and life in contemporary culture. Using his statement as a frame, I would be interested in discussing what kind of new knowledge or thought is produced by this tension of contemporary making and why.