When Site Lost the Plot

Goldsmiths 7-9 May, 2013
Studio B, room 5
9.30-5 each day with evening screenings

“To remove the work is to destroy the work”. Where site-specificity once seemed to harbor a potential for disruption (Serra’s Tilted Arc, Haacke’s Shapolsky work), what status can this insistence have once it is a mainstay of capitalist logic to transform specificity into reproducible symbol and immaterial value? How is the materialist critique of ‘site’ short-circuited when art’s site is reimagined as being unproblematically continuous with the real, or when a chain of locations are fabulated through the franchised idiosyncrasies of an itinerant artist/curator?

The symposium sought to examine the legacy of ‘site’, to ask whether, on a planet whose entire surface is mapped and apped, the critical force of the concept is spent; and to chart some of the (perhaps irreducibly multiple) ways in which site continues to be a concern for contemporary practice.

Alongside artists showing and discussing their work, speakers introduced concepts from various disciplines (fiction, mathematics, philosophy, geography, geology) that may help us to think otherwise the relation between local and global, between specific sites and their material conditions: Plot, Platform, Trauma, Topos …

How to do justice to the particularity of local sites while unearthing their material conditions? What can a site-specific philosophy (“geophilosophy”) and the historical lessons of art practice offer each other, in developing a set of tools to avoid trivial reconciliations between local sites and global conditions, allowing instead for the controlled unpacking of the local into the global, and vice versa?

Chaired by Robin Mackay (Urbanomic), with contributions from Paul Chaney, Nick Ferguson, Ilona Gaynor, John Gerrard, Shaun Lewin, Julia Martin, Jeremy Millar, Reza Negarestani, Miranda Pope, Benedict Singleton, Tom, Trevatt, Roman Vasseur, Matthew Watkins

The Symposium will also include showings of:
Jan Svěrák Ropáci (Oil Gobblers) (1988)
Shu Lea Cheang The Trial of Tilted Arc (1989)
Jeremy Millar Zugzwang (Almost Complete) (2006)
Mark Fisher and Justin Barton On Vanishing Land (2013)