[-empyre-] please welcome John Haber : "no end in site'

Christina McPhee christina at christinamcphee.net
Sat Jan 12 06:33:53 EST 2008

hi all,

  Joining Naeem from New York, please welcome to the -empyrean- a long- 
time reader of our list, John Haber, critic and writer, author of one  
of the first and most extensive sites on contemporary art in New  
York.  John, beyond his full time editorial work in scientific  
publishing, devotes practicallyevery weekend to walking around  
Manhattan and Brooklyn, to observe, relish, and ponder the offerings  
of the hundreds of exhibitions in the city.  http://haberarts.com   
John has been kind enough to send his opening   new notes on  "site  
and non-site" ---- John will be online shortly with more.


--------------------'J.-P. S: But what’s weird is how I started to  
think about chance. . . . I had just seen movies that left nothing to  
chance, and when I went out I had found 					contingency. It was the  
necessity of film that made me feel that there is no necessity on the  

											– Simone de Beauvoir, Conversations with Jean-Paul Sartre  

John Haber, on 'Nonsite from Smithson to New Media"

'Robert Smithson liked deductive logic and formal systems well enough,  
so long as others took care of them. His spiral of earth, slowly  
sinking into the Great Salt Lake, could almost parody a Sol LeWitt  
wall drawing. But had he foreseen a digital universe, would he ever  
have entered the gallery?

Nonsite as rupture

Smithson did enter the gallery, of course, where his work has a  
notably low-tech and strikingly physical presence – even in the  
mirror. His Enantiomorphic Chambers, like his arrays of mirrors amid  
salt and rubble, could almost make a mockery of conceptual art. As for  
fancier algorithms underlying digital art now, better bury them with  
an old-fashioned steam shovel before they get out of hand.

It takes chance, in the collision of millions upon millions of  
molecules, to produce his beloved entropy and the arrow of time. It  
takes a serious rupture of gallery and museum walls to create  
earthworks, the mark of the creative artist on the landscape. It takes  
a more subtle breach to invent nonsites, the presence of the landscape  
within a gallery. It takes a certain permeability between artist,  
object, nature, and human history to suffer either then to take its  
course. Spiral Jetty now makes its reappearance from time to time  
after many years underwater, and I hardly know whether to thank  
happenstance, patterns of water use, or global warming.

For those more attached to round numbers, however, Robert Smithson  
would have turned seventy with the new year – or, more exactly,  
January 2. (The law of large numbers means some slippage.) He will  
have died thirty-five years ago this July. Gordon Matta-Clark another  
site-specific artist who labored hard to destroy a site, was born and  
died precisely five years after him. Both also had retrospectives in  
the last three years, at the very same New York museum, and it might  
disappoint them both to spot a trend, rather than mere coincidence.  
Sites and nonsites are where the action is. "

TBC shortly

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