Writing Scripto-Visual Costumes and Columns of Air

In: Artistic Research and Literature
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It is a ‘work’, if it may be so called, named Frameworks. It is a lengthy, fragmented, and difficult set of speculations, arguments and assertions as to how a column of air could be identified and defended as a work of art or not. But a column of air could be described in many ways. You couldn’t easily point to it. Immediately the problem of the ‘metaphysical’ location of the work of art was encountered. Was it a column of air or was it a sort of fictional entity? Was it the argument, the ‘theory’ and speculation or the text? The object was being made by the text. Its independence as an art object was being eroded. Many of the dematerialised clichés of post-minimalism are present but the art object risks the condition of mere ‘as if’ insofar as the object—turns into text and the conventional powers of the artist are transformed into those of a participant in discursive talk. Mel Ramsden discussing Frameworks (1966–1967). (Art & Language, Tate Papers, 2004).

In “The Trouble with Writing” Charles Harrison describes the work of Art and Language with an avowed sense of suspicion for the literary:

Much of the work of Art &

Language is written. Some of

this writing has been hung on

walls or stuck on walls, some

painted on walls, or printed on

paintings, or stuck to paintings.

Some of it has been published

in books and catalogs and

journals. But none of it wears

the costume of literature. It is

artists’ writing.1

I wonder if Frameworks (Art & Language, 1966–1967) with its famously “identified and defended” column of air is as unliterary as Harrison suggests? Much as I admire Harrison’s critical writing, I can’t help

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Bibliography

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Endnotes
1

Charles Harrison, “The Trouble with Writing,” in: Conceptual Art and Painting: Further Essays on Art & Language. Cambridge, MA, London: MIT Press, 2001, pp. 3–34: here p. 3.

2

Ibid.

3

Charles Bernstein, “The Response as Such: Words in Visibility,” in: M/E/A/N/I/N/G 9 (1991), pp. 3–8: here: p. 6.

4

Nina Felshin et al., “Women’s Work: A Lineage, 1966–1994,” in: Art Journal, 54:1 (1995), pp. 71–85: here p. 71.

5

Ibid.

6

Lucy Lippard, “Foreword,” in: Mary Kelly, Post-Partum Document. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999 [1983], pp. xi–xvi: here p. xiv.

7

Mary Kelly, Imaging Desire. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996, p. 23.

8

Ibid.

9

Mira Schor, “Women’s Work: A Lineage, 1966–1994.” Art Journal 54:1 (1995), p. 76.

10

Mira Schor, Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997, p. 210.

11

Schor (1997), Wet, p. 211.

12

Schor (1997), Wet, p. 210.

13

Susan Howe, “Sorting Facts; or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker,” in: Charles Warren, ed., Beyond Document: Essays on Nonfiction Film. Hanover, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1996, pp. 295–343: here p. 300.

14

Cf. Lynn Keller, “An Interview with Susan Howe,” in: Contemporary Literature 36:1 (1995), pp. 1–34: here p. 27.

15

Schor (1997), Wet, p. 210.

16

Howe (1996), Sorting Facts, p. 300.

17

Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, “Spero’s Other Traditions,” in: Catherine de Zegher, ed., Inside the Visible: An Elliptical Traverse of 20 thCentury Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995, pp. 239–244: here p. 243.

18

Laynie Browne, “A Conceptual Assemblage. An Introduction,” in: Laynie Browne et al., eds., I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women. Los Angeles, CA: Les Figues Press, 2011, pp. 14–17: here p. 15.

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