Before the global pandemic broke out, it seemed for a brief moment that we might be on the verge of bidding adieu to the internet, that we once again might be social without the help of digital media, that we might be able to kick our screen addiction. But all that changed with the arrival of COVID 19 and the need (and compulsion) to spend more and more time connecting on-line resumed with urgency. In this rush to re-engage with each other on the internet, we were able to feel comforted from being in touch virtually, yet we have also registered the intense psychological strain of augmenting our quarantined existence with the virtual. What’s more, this virtual space has already been monopolized by large tele-media corporations from Google to YouTube to Zoom and back again. What recourse does art have in such a hyper-mediated and corporatized environment? The legacy of Conceptual Art seems to offer one possibility. Another Idea proposes not a virtual exhibition but an actual conceptual art exhibition.
Rather than approaching this exhibition as a virtual version of something that might otherwise live offline, Another Idea is devised specifically to question the relationship between the space an artwork occupies and what form(s) that artwork might take; i.e. conceptual art. We have our minds on early Conceptualist and Fluxus practices as well as those of artists from ensuing generations whose work begs the question: if not solely within a singular resulting output, then where is the work? Although much of this work can and does take a form, the connection between the final result and intent of the work remains malleable.
Are photos or videos of an action the actual work, or is it the thing that happened and could happen again? Is a sculpture the work or is it the people that engage with it over time? We might suggest that the answer is: yes—all of the above. So, what this exhibition seeks to do is illuminate, emphasize and/or introduce particular ways of considering the roles of context, site, time and material through the specific works of each artist and the structure(s) of the exhibition.
The exhibition is headquartered here, on the Gray Center website, while supporting the exhibition’s fluctuating presence on other platforms. The works in Another Idea also live wherever they are experienced: they can be printed at home, performed in the street, spoken in the dark, watched on screens, listened to on headsets, installed in a park, or thought about in the bath.
Conceived and organized by Zachary Cahill and Mike Schuh
For more visit www.graycenter.uchicago.edu