The Order of Things: A series of examinations, through exhibition and publication, of contemporary interpretations of Systems in relation to legacies of Concrete and Abstract Art

Bick, Andrew M ORCID: 0000-0001-5688-6064, Parsons, Jonathan and Pratt, Katie (2017) The Order of Things: A series of examinations, through exhibition and publication, of contemporary interpretations of Systems in relation to legacies of Concrete and Abstract Art. The Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, Cheltenham.

Text (documentation of exhibition, symposium and public art project)
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The Order of Things was a survey exhibition, publication and seminar. The project explored how contemporary artists have built upon, questioned and expanded legacies of abstraction, in particular through uses of systems. The project demonstrated how artists interrogate experience, social convention, the gallery as cultural site in order to explore broader ideas of how individuals and groups perceive and interpret the nature of human reality through forms of visualisation. It examined how a human desire for aesthetic experience can be a means of mediating social and political positions. The title, The Order of Things, is taken from Michel Foucault’s 1966 book, Les Mots et les Choses. Underpinning Foucault’s discussion is the anthropological argument that human categorisation strategy –how we label things –is limited. In parallel to this canonical philosophical reference point, 1977 print portfolio Rational Concepts, a copy of which Bick was gifted by artist Jeffrey Steele, was included in the exhibition to locate archivally the visual reference to the original Systems art movement. The exhibition uses this source to examine the proposition that visual systemization within art practice is an ongoing and divergent process. The collaborative curatorial methodology generated a deliberately varied set of responses to the key questions of the exhibition ranging through painting, video, sculpture, drawing, documented performance and other media and material combinations. Though predominantly non-representational, many works included offset their physical characteristics with a figurative title, deliberately mismatches language and image. Here the question is that of how a characteristic can be transformed, through repetition and variation, from a squiggle to something legible and comprehensible. Conversely, other works position their approach to systems around the extent to which a symbol can degenerate before it becomes indecipherable. Here the key methodology is one of disruption within a system, proposing that the true legacy of systems in contemporary art practice is as a locator of the unpredictable and un-nameable within perception and human behavior.

Item Type: Other
Uncontrolled Keywords: Research process; Methodology; Concrete Art; Systems; REF2021
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Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Creative Practice and Theory
Depositing User: Andrew Bick
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2020 11:51
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:23

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