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Non places and the spaces of art
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Non places and the spaces of art

  1. 1. 183 The Journal of Architecture Volume 6 Summer 2001 Non-places and the spaces of art1111 Peter Osborne Centre for Research in Modern European2 Philosophy, Middlesex University,3111 London N17 8HR, UK456 Introduction temporal logic, and to the speci c modes of nega-7 This is a paper about cultural form. More speci - tion that are employed. Such negations give8 cally, it is a paper about the transformation of a determinate content to ‘the modern’ in any partic-9 particular Western cultural form, art (in its modern, ular instance, in each speci c time and place. ‘The10111 generic, post-Romantic, institutionalised sense as modern’, in other words, is primarily a schema, in1 ‘autonomous’), under the conditions of an emer- Kant’s sense: a ‘rule of pure synthesis’ or ‘tran-2 gent global capitalist modernity. It moves in four scendental determination of time’ that mediates3 parts from 1) a clari cation of the notion of ‘global the pure givenness of appearances with categorial4 capitalist modernity’, via 2) discussion of the signif- or intelligible forms. It is only secondarily or deriv-5 icance of space to the understanding of art as atively a mode of historical periodisation (with6 cultural form, to 3) a critical exposition of the con- various beginnings, but no end) and a cultural-7 cept of ‘non-place’, as the spatial correlate of the historical project. ‘Modernity’ is the name for an8 temporal form of the modern, and 4) a characteri- actually existing, or socially realised, temporal9 sation of ‘art-space’ as a distinctive – indeed, exem- formalism that is constitutive of certain formations20111 plary – type of non-place, current transformations of subjectivity. It is in this sense that it is a distinc-1 of which need to be understood in terms of devel- tively ‘cultural’ category: the fundamental form of2 opments in the spatial logic of modernity itself.1 time-consciousness in capitalist societies.23 Within the terms of this analysis, art is modern4 1. A global capitalist modernity? to the extent to which it is dependent for its5 For all its ubiquity and apparent simplicity, ‘moder- intelligibility upon the temporal logic of negation6 nity’ remains at times a confusing term. It is under- characteristic of the dialectic of ‘the new’, in a qual-7 stood here to refer to a culture of temporal itatively historical (rather than a merely fashion-8 abstraction centred on that restless logic of nega- based) sense of the term. That is, it is modern to9 tion that makes up the temporal dialectic of the the extent to which it makes its claim on the30111 new. As such, it de nes a distinctive structure of present, through its negation of past forms, in the1 historical experience. Nonetheless, the unity of this name of a particular, qualitatively different future.2 structure notwithstanding, its concrete meanings Furthermore, as the art of a present which is itself3 are open to signi cant historical variation, relative modern (in the sense of understanding itself within4 to the speci c terms and boundaries of the various the terms of the dialectic of the new), modern art5111 elds of experience that are subjected to its is inherently engaged with the issue of abstraction1111 © 2001 The Journal of Architecture 1360–2365 / DOI: 10.1080/13602360110048203
  2. 2. 184 Non-places and the spaces of art Peter Osborneat the level of its social content, as well as those of This process may be summed up in three theses: 1111both its own historical logic and, more concretely, 2its relation to guration – this more immediate 1. We live in an emergent global modernity. 3sense in which art is conceived as being ‘abstract’ 2. At the same time, there are many modernities; 4being but a particular artistic means for the expres- but the logic of multiplicity of these moderni- 5sion of the other two. Indeed one might say, from ties is different – has a different conceptual 6this point of view, that art is the privileged social shape – from the multiplicity of previous 7site – or at the least, the catalytic trigger – for the forms. 8experience of abstraction, in and for itself, as an 3. Global modernity is not, fundamentally, geo- 9historical form. Modern art extracts abstraction politically, about the hegemony of the West, 10111from its various social sites and re ects upon it as but about the hegemony of capital. 1form. Hence the danger, but by no means the 2necessity, of aestheticisation, which involves a Let me explain these, very brie y, in turn. 3forgetting of the social bases of abstraction as a 1. We live in a global modernity. This is to 4form of experience. say, the globalisation of certain socio-economic 5 Such are the presuppositions about modernity processes currently constitutive of modernity as a 6and art that govern what follows. However, if the form of historical experience (overwhelmingly but 7modern is a temporal concept, it nonetheless has not exclusively, capitalist relations of production and 8certain spatial – speci cally, certain geo-political – exchange) means that, for the rst time historically, 9conditions of existence. These conditions are as a result of the collapse of the Soviet system (the 20111currently undergoing radical transformation in the dream of a socialist modernity), and at a certain 1process of the globalisation of capitalism as an level of abstraction and possible experience, moder- 2economic and cultural form. It is for this reason, in nity is everywhere. Modernity has become spatially 3my view, that the global capitalist modernity that one. There is a single spatial ground to the de ni- 4is currently emerging must be considered a distinc- tion of the historical present. In particular, within 5tively new historical form of modernity itself. For the current form of capitalist globalisation, the two 6the fundamental change in its spatial conditions main geo-political conditions of the previous form 7alters the distribution and dynamics of its temporal of modernity (colonialism and the Cold War) are no 8form. This is not ‘late’ modernity (it shows no signs longer the primary spatial basis for the temporal 9of ending), let alone ‘postmodernity’ (an idea that differentiation of the new. The temporal differen- 30111appears more preposterous by the day), but, more tial of the modern is no longer primarily derived 1simply, another, more generalised form of moder- from historically xed or enduring socially coded 2nity itself: supermodernity, perhaps, in the light of spatial differences; it is immanent to a single plan- 3the intensi cation of its temporal immanence, etary space of which all places are a part, albeit in 4although personally I do not favour the term. radically uneven ways. This temporal differential is 5111
  3. 3. 185 The Journal of Architecture Volume 6 Summer 20011111 distributed across global social space in new, more carrier of the principle of capitalism, historically,2 complex and often rapidly changing ways. but capitalism is increasingly generalised, residing3 2. At the same time, there are many moderni- immanently in the global economic system,4 ties: distinct forms of experience of the modern. following a territorial logic that may enter into5 However, these are either socio-spatially speci c con ict with the geo-political interests of its primary6 forms of experience of (the one) global modernity ‘hosts’. Global modernity (one, internally differen-7 (socio-spatially embedded perspectives on its glob- tial, historical present) is as much, if not more,8 ality, if you like), or the result of social processes about the historical effects of the relations between9 and practices at lower levels of spatial organisation: different forms of capital, as about the relations10111 within regions, for example, or within historically between capitalist and non-capitalist social forms.1 received patterns of inter-national domination. The Different forms of capital refunction (appropriate2 ‘modern’ temporal coding of such historically and transform but also preserve) a variety of non-3 received relations of domination (colonialism, impe- capitalist social forms, producing historically4 rialism, Cold War) subsists within global modernity, ambiguous identities and contradictory experiences5 but it conditions, rather than in itself determining, of abstraction.46 the distribution of temporal differentiations at a This emergent global capitalist modernity has7 global level. This multiplicity of modernities has a two additional spatial features to which I would like8 new conceptual shape, to which the idea of ‘alter- to draw attention: 1) an intensi cation of the9 native’ modernities is inadequate. For as Harry primacy of temporal over spatial relations to the20111 Harootunian has argued, the notion of alternative point of the immanent negation of place as a spa-1 modernities tends to reinscribe the historically tial variable – which is not the same thing as the2 received geo-political particularisms of the moder- negation of space, since ‘space’ is not reducible3 nity/tradition binary of colonial difference, within its to ‘place’; 2) a focusing or concentration of this4 generalisation (through simple quantitative multi- process on changes in the spatial determinations of5 plication) of the rst term.3 The multiplication of metropolitan centres, giving rise to what Saskia6 modernities within global modernity has, rather, a Sassen has called ‘global cities’ or, more broadly,7 more complex, distributional logic. what Manuel Castells describes as ‘informational8 3. Global modernity is not, fundamentally, about cities’.5 These changes derive from changes in the9 the hegemony of the West, so much as about the spatial logic of economic and communicational rela-30111 hegemony of capital. Capital is not in itself tied to tions and have de nite implications for the devel-1 any territorial principle (this is the distinctive mode opment, or fundamental determinations, of art as2 of abstraction of the value form), although different a cultural form; implications with direct relevance to3 regimes of accumulation may have particular geo- ongoing debates about the autonomy of art, insti-4 political conditions of existence at particular histor- tutionalisation, and avant-gardes. It is thus through5111 ical times. ‘The West’ has been the geo-political this spatial lens that I shall approach these debates.
  4. 4. 186 Non-places and the spaces of art Peter Osborne2. Art and space debates in art theory (especially around the notion 1111This is hardly a new move. It was fashionable in the of public art)6 and critical writing about the archi- 21980s and early 1990s to distinguish postmodernist tectural schemes of various post-conceptual artists 3from modernist theory by a turn (or return) to space (such as Dan Graham) and the gradual ‘architec- 4and spatial relations, against the supposedly one- turalisation of art’ with which such art may be asso- 5sided obsession with time and history constitutive ciated.7 6of the problematic of modernity. That any such This is a tendency that goes far beyond the 7move from ‘time’ to ‘space’ is simple-minded (like increased importance of architectural design to 8the af rmative conception of postmodernism museum development and display, and the insistent 9itself, or indeed, the idea of a temporal problem- presence of architectural projects in art spaces 10111atic without spatial presuppositions and implica- (plans, models, diagrams, computer-simulated 1tions) hardly needs restating today. When we speak buildings, etc), to include gallery-alteration and 2independently of ‘time’ and ‘space’ we always deal building-modi cation as not merely institutionally 3only with aspects of integral sets of time-space rela- recognised, but increasingly dominant, art forms.8 4tions. Nonetheless, the spatial conditions of various Minimalism effaced the boundary between painting 5temporal relations were undoubtedly neglected, and sculpture, drawing attention to the art object’s 6theoretically, in earlier debates about modernity, in relations to its institutional space; post-minimalist 7part because of the relative historical stability during art often moved outside the physical locality of the 8that period of their implicitly assumed basic form: gallery altogether. This new type of work situates 9the territoriality of the nation-state. The new focus itself at the boundaries between architectural space 20111on space within Anglophone theory during the and its environment at a time when the distinction 11980s and 1990s, at the intersection of disciplinary between architecture and infrastructure is itself 2transformations in geography, urban sociology, being challenged by newly integrated forms 3political economy, anthropology, architecture, and of urban planning, made possible by new design 4cultural theory, recti ed this neglect, to a great technologies and building processes and materials.9 5extent, rst at the level of the local (especially, the It points back to the prescient signi cance of 6urban), second at the level of regions (both within the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, although it 7and beyond nation states), and more recently, at tends to de-politicise and aestheticise his legacy. It 8the global level. However, in the main, this litera- points forward to a new stage in the development 9ture has remained isolated from the (post-post- of the post-conceptual art culture of installation or 30111modernism) renewal and complication of debates spatial instantiation. (Installation, on my under- 1about modernity, in large part because of its devel- standing, is the spatial instantiation of art ideas.) 2opment within the self-enclosed and increasingly These are developments to which the still power- 3implausible problematic of postmodernism. It has, ful Situationist problematic of commodi cation 4though, connected up with both post-minimalist and technological mediation (‘spectacle’) remains 5111
  5. 5. 187 The Journal of Architecture Volume 6 Summer 20011111 relevant, but to which it increasingly appears, in themselves . . . [the proliferating] transit points2 crucial respects, inadequate. They also mark a and temporary abodes . . . under luxurious or3 certain historical redundancy in existing forms of inhuman conditions (hotel chains and squats,4 the artistic project of institutional critique, insofar holiday clubs and refugee camps, shanty5 as they presuppose the art museum and gallery as towns threatened with demolition or doomed6 the prevailing physical sites of contemporary art. I to festering longevity) . . . the great commer-7 shall take a conceptual approach to these develop- cial centres . . . where the habitué of super-8 ments, starting at the highest level of abstraction: markets, slot machines and credit cards9 the negation of place. communicates wordlessly, through gestures,10111 with an abstract, unmediated commerce . . .1 3. Non-place and nally the complex skein of cable and2 The idea of non-places derives from the French wireless networks that mobilise extraterrestria l3 historian Michel de Certeau’s Invention of the space for the purposes of a communication4 Everyday. Volume One (1974), but it is from the so peculiar that it often puts the individual in5 short but powerful text by the French anthropolo- contact only with another image of him [or6 gist Marc Augé, Non-Places: Introduction to an her]self.’ 107 Anthropology of Supermodernity (1992), which in As its syntax suggests, ‘non-place’ is conceived8 certain respects inverts de Certeau’s use of the negatively, as ‘a space which cannot be de ned as9 term, that I shall take my cue. Augé’s book is relational, or historical, or concerned with identity.’20111 concerned to rede ne the object of an anthropo- As such, it is a form of space characterised by1 logical study of ‘the contemporary world’. It abstraction, in which its passing inhabitants locate2 introduces the idea of non-places as the spatial themselves rst and foremost through relations3 dimension of a general conception of ‘super- with words. This ‘invasion of space by text’, as Augé4 modernity’ as a culture of ‘excess’, de ned by an puts it, is understood to produce a ‘solitary contrac-5 ‘overabundance of events’, in which the very idea tuality’ as the distinctive mode of social existence6 of individuated culture, ‘localised in time and of its (temporary) inhabitants. ‘Alone, but one of7 space’, has become redundant. As the spatial many, the user of a non-place is in contractual rela-8 consequence of ‘changes of scale,. . . the prolifer- tions with it (or with powers that govern it) . . .9 ation of imaged and imaginary references, and . . . [and] is reminded, when necessary, that the30111 the spectacular acceleration of means of transport’, contract exists.’ Such ‘instructions for use’ may be1 Augé’s idea of non-places embraces: prescriptive, prohibitive or informative (‘Take right-2 the installations needed for the accelerated cir- hand lane’ and ‘You are now entering the3 culation of passengers and goods (high-speed Beaujolais region’ are Augé’s distinctively French4 roads and railways, interchanges, airports) . . . examples); they may be in ordinary language or in5111 just as much . . . as the means of transport more, or less, explicitly codi ed ideograms; and
  6. 6. 188 Non-places and the spaces of art Peter Osbornetheir proponents are not individuals but institutions of ‘existence’), as itself intrinsically a special type of 1111of various sorts, the presence of which is at times place, constituted as a place by its dialectical nega- 2explicitly stated (Metropolitan Transport Authority), tion of place in the anthropological sense of a space 3at others only vaguely discernible.11 Augé’s non- that generates identity-forming meanings out of 4places are thus the dialectical residue of the dual the permanence and generational continuity of the 5negation of place by itineracy and textuality. physical contiguity of its boundaries. That is, I want 6 However, productive as I hope this idea will be to argue, all non-places are places qua non-places, 7shown to be, Augé’s presentation of the concept not only in addition or palimpsestically; since their 8of non-place is both theoretically ambiguous and meaning derives from their determinate negation 9critically ambivalent. Theoretically, it equivocates of the relation between locale and meaning, 10111between an abstract and a dialectical conception of internal to the boundaries of physical contiguity 1negation. Critically, it oscillates between a back- which de ne what Manual Castells calls the ‘space 2ward-looking romanticisation of the anthropolog- of places’, which is the terrain of Augé’s analysis. 3ical conception of place and a forward-looking (In Castells’s words: ‘A place is a locale whose form, 4positive ‘ethnology of solitude’. This is the result of function and meaning are self-contained within the 5the restrictions of the anthropological perspective. boundaries of physical contiguity.’)13 Hence Augé’s 6Thus, Augé writes: various lists of ‘non-places’. Yet this form of dialec- 7 The non-place . . . never exists in a pure form; tical interiority to place tempers the radicalism of 8 places reconstitute themselves in it; relations the idea of non-place, reducing its challenge to the 9 are restored and resumed in it; the ‘millennial spatial logic of places to the blocked passage of a 20111 ruses’ of ‘the invention of the everyday’ and negative dialectic. Hence its critical ambivalence – 1 ‘the arts of doing’, so subtly analysed by only poetically resolved. 2 Michel de Certeau, can clear a path there and Despite his implicit account of the social basis 3 deploy their strategies. Place and non-place are of non-places in the revolution in transport and 4 rather like opposed polarities: the rst is never communications technologies in market societies, 5 completely erased, the second never totally and his understanding of their tendency to gener- 6 completed; they are like palimpsests on which alisation, as all places increasingly become places 7 the scrambled game of identity and relations through which people travel – for Augé, traveller’s 8 is ceaselessly rewritten.12 space is the ‘archetype’ of non-place14 – Augé fails 9This is in many ways a plausible – indeed convincing to press the concept of non-place beyond its 30111– even poetic, scenario. However, if the non- abstractly negative determination, towards the idea 1place never exists in a ‘pure form’ (that is, as an of a new spatial logic. He leaves the concept of 2absolute negation or annihilation of place), this place in place. For Augé, the only positive content 3is surely because it can only be coherently of the concept of non-place resides in the idea 4construed, conceptually (and not just as an accident of solitary contractuality, an associated ‘emptying 5111
  7. 7. 189 The Journal of Architecture Volume 6 Summer 20011111 of individuality’,15 and its necessarily being ‘over- sounds and symbols’ – not exclusively, according to2 written’ by conventional relations of place by the Castells, but nonetheless already ‘dominantly’.163 actors within it. In particular, the concept of place (This is an economic-technological version of the4 fails to register within itself the spatial dimension globalisation thesis.) The international art world is5 of the new forms of interdependence that exceed a space of ows.6 the logic of place (whether by transport or commu- What Augé calls ‘non-places’, it would seem, are7 nication) and which render the notion of non-place more properly conceived as the product of the8 necessary. Such new forms of interdependence dialectic of the space of places and the space of9 exceed the anthropological sense of place, not by ows. In this sense – that is, critically reconceived10111 virtue of their failure to generate a certain identity- – the idea of non-place may be developed into1 forming type of meaning, but by their negation of a genuinely ‘post-anthropological’ conception of2 the purely spatial dimension of place as physical place, which moves beyond Augé’s self-under-3 contiguity. (The anthropological imagination fails to standing. In fact, it promises to move beyond4 conceive of the possibility of an identity-forming Castells’s own still abstractly oppositional sense of5 generation of meaning outside the con nes of what he nonetheless acknowledges to be a dialec-6 place – in the speci c sense of a place de ned by tical relation between places and ows, in which7 ‘boundaries of physical contiguity’. In this respect, the contradictions between their different logics8 the conceptual destruction of anthropology is a appear, in his words, as ‘a structural schizophrenia9 condition for thinking the structure of experience . . . that threatens to break down communication20111 under the conditions of a global capitalist moder- channels in society’.17 (It should be noted that the1 nity. Critical anthropology can never, in principle, be two sides of this supposed ‘schizophrenia’ are actu-2 critical enough.) However, if one conceives Augé’s ally mainly distributed between different, hierarchi-3 non-places in the context of such networks of cally related, social groups. In this respect, the4 relations, they appear less as ‘empty’ or ‘solitary’ oppositional element in the structure represents a5 versions of traditional places and more as radically con ict of interests and forms of identity, rather6 new ontological types of place, constituted qua than a split within a single social subject: the emer-7 places through their relations to another spatiality, gence of a new spatial elite. There is a con ict here,8 which Castells calls the ‘space of ows’. This ‘space not over ‘space’ as such, so much as over spatiali-9 of ows’ is a purported new spatial logic grounded sation.) Finally, such a rethinking of Augé in rela-30111 in ‘the transformation of location patterns of core tion to Castells raises the possibility of giving1 economic activities under the new technological analytical substance to what Hardt and Negri have2 system . . . the rise of the electronic home and the recently called ‘a new place in the non-place’ or3 . . . evolution of urban forms.’ It governs ‘ ows of (better) ‘a new place of the non-place’, which4 capital, ows of information, ows of technology, would be the site of ‘ontologically new determina-5111 ows of organisational interaction, ows of images, tions of the human’, an alternative (for them,
  8. 8. 190 Non-places and the spaces of art Peter Osbornerepublican) global form of non-place opposed to 4. Art-space as non-place 1111the non-place of the currently emerging power they The institutional spaces of art are related to the 2call ‘Empire’.18 new global/informational metropolitan non-places 3 It is the prophetic hope of this idea that it will through the network character of the international 4resolve the contradiction (stoically endured by artworld, but also, more fundamentally, via the deep- 5Augé, with a certain melancholy) between the fact rooted immanence of metropolitan spatial experi- 6that, in Augé’s words, ‘never before have individual ence to modern art itself, both in its formal structure 7histories been so explicitly affected by collective and context of reception. As Brian O’Doherty has 8history, but never before, either, have reference put it, with reference to Schwitters’s Merzbau, but 9points for collective identi cation been so the point holds for modern art more generally: 10111unstable.’ 19 Whether or not this might be any The city provided the materials, models of 1more than a prophetic idea depends in large part process, and primitive esthetic of juxtaposition 2upon the relations between place and non-place, – congruity forced by mixed needs and inten- 3places and ows; and in particular upon the tions. The city is the indispensible context of 4constitution of places qua non-places by ows. This collage and of the gallery space. Modern art 5happens at all levels of place-based spatial organi- needs the sound of traf c outside to authen- 6sation: from the human body all the way up to ticate it.21 7what Hardt and Negri treat as the (politically) ulti- The organising principle of collage is the mythos of 8mate non-place, the planet, or at least the physical a city; and collage is at the core of a generic (non- 9contiguity of its surface layers. (There are other medium-based) modernism. But modern art still 20111places to which humans, or their crafts, have trav- ‘needs the sound of traf c outside to authenticate 1elled or might be imagined to travel – other planets it’, to refer it back to this principle, because of the 2– central to the political imaginaries of the last self-enclosed, self-insulating character of gallery 3century. But they do not as yet bear on the space. It is in its speci c character as a self-enclosed 4question of the actual spatial form of political and specialised place that the gallery appears as an 5subjectivisation, which is the issue here.) Most exemplary or ‘pure’ non-place: constituted as a 6important of all, perhaps, is the mediating level of non-place by its dual negation of place-based social 7global/informational cities, at which we may also functions by itinerary and textuality: the itinerary of 8locate the network of the international artworld. the viewer, the ‘textuality’ of the work – a form of 9Global/informational cities are ‘spaces of contem- itinerary that mediates the universality of the work’s 30111poreity’, in the literal sense of a coming together address with the individuality of relations of private 1of times – nodal points of multiple temporalities – property. In O’Doherty’s words, ‘the empty gallery 2and the prime mediating sites of the dialectic of . . . [is] modernism’s greatest invention’ because the 3places and ows, the spatial register of interacting white cube is ‘the single major convention through 4temporal forms.20 which art is passed’: 5111
  9. 9. 191 The Journal of Architecture Volume 6 Summer 20011111 If art has any cultural reference (apart from notion of ‘autonomy’. In this sense, art-space is self-2 being ‘culture’) surely it is in the de nition instituting, once historically established through3 of our space and time. The ow of energy what O’Doherty calls ‘the placelessness and time-4 between concepts of space articulated through lessness’ of the gallery’s ‘hysterical cell’: art turns5 the artwork and the space we occupy is one space into art-space. Non-place is the spatial dimen-6 of the basic and least understood forces in sion of art’s autonomy, and thus, its continuing7 modernism. Modernism space rede nes the modernity. What keeps this space stable, O’Doherty8 observer’s status, tinkers with his [/her] self- argues, is the lack of alternatives. ‘A rich constella-9 image. Modernism’s conception of space, not tion of projects comments on matters of location’,10111 its subject matter, may be what the public but they do not so much suggest alternatives1 rightly conceives as threatening. Now, of as ‘enlist . . . the gallery space as a unit of esthetic2 course, [it is 1976] space contains no threats, discourse.’23 My claim is stronger: not only is3 has no hierarchies. Its mythologies are drained, gallery-space a unit of aesthetic discourse in post-4 its rhetoric collapsed. It is simply a kind of minimalist art, it establishes the ontological struc-5 undifferentiated potency. This is not a ‘degen- ture of art-space which must subsequently be6 eration’ of space but the sophisticated conven- recreated by the work in each instance wherever7 tion of an advanced culture which has it is.8 cancelled its values in the name of an abstrac- The ‘architecturalisation of art’ is in this respect9 tion called ‘freedom’. Space now is not just also a reduction of architecture to art. The idea that20111 where things happen; things make space ‘everything is architecture’, in Charles Eames’s1 happen.22 famous words, is a particular in ection of the idea2 A familiar minimalist insight, you might say. Indeed that ‘anything can become art’. Indeed, it is this3 it is, and it led rapidly to the transgression of literal latter principle viewed from the standpoint of4 (or ‘empirical’) gallery space, and the proliferation construction. Taken literally, such architectural5 of ‘site’-based work, since ‘things make space imperialism presages the end of architecture. For6 happen’ and not the other way around. However, the principle is unstable. ‘Everything’ and ‘anything’7 and this is my point here, it is naïve to believe that quickly become ‘nothing in particular’ and then8 this transgression of literal or ‘empirical’ gallery ‘nothing’. That ‘anything can become art’ marks9 space constitutes a violation of the ontological the destruction of medium speci city, convention-30111 character of art-space as instituted by the gallery ally associated with neo-Dada and minimalism, but1 and the modern art museum. Rather, the space that it is more fundamentally realised in conceptual2 art-things/relations ‘make happen’ remains art- art, as the condition of possibility of the main trans-3 space, wherever it is, insofar as the contextual ‘art formation in the ontological status of art over the4 character’ or function of the things/relations last three decades: namely, the replacement of5111 remains tied up with the (much misunderstood) the primacy of the ‘object’ by the installation or
  10. 10. 192 Non-places and the spaces of art Peter Osborneinstantiation of the art idea. Fundamentally, it is true of the museum as mausoleum, but it is 1111not objects that are ‘installed’ here (although they becoming true of the contemporary art museum 2may be the literal medium), or even works, but art and gallery too. However, and this is my main point, 3ideas. Works are the product of the installation. paradoxically, art can only ‘live’ there, outside the 4Installation has been transformed from a technical gallery, by recreating the ontological character of 5to an ontological category. In the process, art is gallery space (art-space) in various ways, trans g- 6becoming co-extensive with the material articula- uring the social character of the space it occupies. 7tion of art-space. This is a process belatedly recog- Contemporary art produces (or fails to produce) 8nised by the major art institutions and recently the non-place of art-space as the condition of its 9symbolically sealed by the acquisition by the autonomy and hence its functioning as ‘art’. That 10111Museum of Modern Art, New York (cathedral of is, autonomy is not an external condition of art, but 1pre-conceptual modernism), of PS1 in Brooklyn. must be produced anew, on the basis of its external 2 Painting is itself subject to this condition. That is, conditions, in each instance, by each work, by its 3just as during the 1960s, the status of painting as immanent negation of place. Art cannot live, qua 4‘an’ art, sui generis, gave way to the requirement art, within the everyday as the everyday. Rather, qua 5that paintings legitimate themselves directly as ‘art’ art, it necessarily interrupts the everyday, from 6(‘painters’ had to become ‘artists’, they were no within, on the basis of the fact that it is always both 7longer artists simply by virtue of being painters), so autonomous and ‘social fact’.24 It is the continued 8the use of paint to make ‘art’ now increasingly search for a productive form of this duality that has 9requires the painting (no longer an ontological cate- driven art beyond the literal physical space of 20111gory) to make a claim on the broader art-space. museum and gallery into other social spaces. It is 1One can see Schnabel struggling with this, I think, in this sense that the internal space of the gallery 2and it is perhaps the more interesting aspect of has become, in O’Doherty’s words, ‘an emptiness 3certain 1980s neo-expressionist works by Baselitz gravid with the content art once had’: a negative 4and Kiefer. However, the art-character of the archi- image of the content art still seeks outside the 5tecture of contemporary museums supervenes, gallery, compensated by the architectural art-space 6insistently, on the objects within them. The rst, of the gallery itself. Ironically, under these condi- 7New York Guggenheim, was the forerunner here, tions, it is perhaps works of institutional critique 8now franchised internationally on the back of the alone that are currently keeping the contemporary 9success of Gehry’s Bilbao building and one can see art museum alive as a space for art other than the 30111a similar process at work in the great turbine hall architecture of the buildings themselves. 1of the Tate Modern, in London. A peculiar reversal 2is occurring: it is now only outside these spaces Notes and references 3(allegedly dedicated to it) that contemporary art can 1. This is the text of a talk to the conference ‘Returns 4‘live’ critically on its own terms. This was always of the Avant-Garde: Post-War Movements’, organised 5111
  11. 11. 193 The Journal of Architecture Volume 6 Summer 20011111 by the Centre for Arts Research, Technology and participants to redesign the area of the West Side of2 Education (CARTE) and the School of Architecture, Manhatten from around Penn Station to the Hudson3 University of Westminster, 24–25 November 2000. It River, exhibited at the CCA, Montreal, 15 November draws on materials from a larger project on art as a 2000 – 15 April 2001. The prize was won by Peter4 cultural form, ‘Art or Aesthetic?’, for which I am Eisenman, but the most impressively ‘infrastructural’5 grateful for support from the Arts and Humanities submission was the one by Jesse Reiser and Naako6 Research Board of the British Academy. Umemoto.7 2. See Peter Osborne, The Politics of Time: Modernity 10. Marc Augé, Non Places: Introduction to an8 and Avant-Garde (Verso, London, 1995), ch. 1. Anthropology of Supermodernity, trans. John Howe9 3. H.D. Harootunian, ‘Ghostly Comparisons’, paper for (Verso, London, 1995), pp. 28–32, 78–9.10111 the Traces conference ‘The Impacts of Modernities’, 11. Ibid., pp. 77–8, 83, 99, 94, 101, 96.1 Ewha University, Seoul, 23–24 September 2000; 12 Ibid., pp. 87, 78–9.2 forthcoming in Traces: A Multilingual Journal of 13. Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy,3 Cultural Theory and Translation, no.3 (2002). Society and Culture. Volume 1. The Rise of the4 4. Étienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Network Society (Blackwell, Oxford, 1996), p. 423.5 Class, Nation: Ambiguous Identities, trans. Chris 14. Non-Places, op. cit., p. 86. Turner (Verso, London and New York, 1991). 15. Ibid., p. 87.6 5. Saskia Sassen, The Global City: New York, London, 16. The Rise of the Network Society, op. cit., pp. 377,7 Tokyo (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1991); 412. See also pp. 410–18.8 Manuel Castells, The Informational City: Information 17. Ibid., p. 428.9 Technology, Economic Restructuring, and the Urban- 18. Michael Herdt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Harvard20111 Regional Process (Blackwell, Oxford, 1989). University Press, Cambridge MA and London, 2000),1 6. See, for example, Rosalyn Deutsche’s Evictions: Art pp. 216–7, 208, 188–90.2 and Spatial Politics (MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1996). 19. Ibid., p. 37.3 7. See, for example, Two-Way Mirror Power: Selected 20. On Castells’s analysis, space is ‘crystallised time’ or4 Writings by Dan Graham on His Art, edited by ‘the material support of time sharing social practices’.5 Alexander Alberro (MIT Press, Cambridge MA and The Rise of Network Society, op. cit., p. 411. This is6 London, 1999), Pts III and VI, and Anthony Vidler, the socially dominant aspect of the space-time Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in dialectic because it is through time that we are consti-7 Modern Culture (MIT Press, Cambridge MA and tuted as nite – that is, mortal – beings. It is the onto-8 London, 2000), Pt II. logical signi cance of the constitution of nitude9 8. For example, Jorge Pardo’s current (year 2000) through mortality that is the element crucially lacking30111 ‘Project’ on the ground oor of the Dia Centre in from Marx’s materialism.1 Manhatten; or Richard Wilson’s 1997 modi cation of 21. Brian O’Doherty, Inside the White Cube: The Ideology2 the Serpentine Gallery, London. of Gallery Space (1976, 1981, 1986) (University of3 9. See, for example, the plans submitted by the nalists California Press, Berkeley, 1999), p. 44. Returning4 for New York: Canadian Centre for Architecture to this text today one is struck by both its radicalism5111 Competition for the Design of Cities, which asked and incisiveness – so different from most of today’s
  12. 12. 194 Non-places and the spaces of art Peter Osborne writings in the purportedly critical, but largely merely 24. See Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, trans. 1111 rhetorical, genre of museum studies. Robert Hullot-Kentor (University of Minnesota Press, 222. Ibid., pp. 38–9. Minneapolis, 1997), pp. 225–9. 323. Ibid., pp. 107, 80. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30111 1 2 3 4 5111