Collecting and Collectivity

Noah Simblist: Collecting and Collectivity
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Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX
Conduit Gallery Dallas, TX
College Art Association Conference, Dallas, TX
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX


Collecting & Collectivity was a series of events organized by Noah Simblist and Charissa Terranova to investigate the unique qualities of the contemporary avant-garde where “collecting” is rooted in individual desire and free market and by contrast, “collectivity” is formed on the basis of shared ideology that often resists the dominant structures of capitalism . The historical avant-garde was marked by the tendency to criticize capitalism and pledged allegiance to class revolution. In general, they viewed art as a means toward social transformation. Today, most artists who make cutting-edge art are complicit with the market. Success means high value and celebrity. Sometimes because of the collusion between artist, artwork, and the market, art communities take form through published discourse, universities, galleries, museums, and an international circuit of biennials and art fairs. Do these communities qualify as “collectives?” Do they show us a new paradigm of “collectivity” in the twenty-first century? The events of Collecting & Collectivity seek to answer these questions.

These events included the following:

A lecture at The Modern Art Museum Fort Worth and a panel discussion at The Meadows Museum, each focussing on the work of Walid Raad, in particular, his fictional artist collective The Atlas Group in spring 2007
A graduate seminar co-taught by Simblist and Terranova at Southern Methodist University in fall 2007
A symposium held at the Meadows Museum in October 2007
A panel discussion at the College Art Association’s Annual Conference in February 2008
An exhibition at Conduit Gallery in February 2008

October 13, 2007, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The Meadows Museum, Dallas, TX
This symposium, sponsored by SMU Meadows Divisions of Art & Art History. Noah Simblist and Charissa Terranova hosted lectures and a round-table discussion between the theorist WJT Mitchell, curator Michelle White, and two artists, Mel Ziegler and K8 Hardy. Mitchell talked about the research related to his book Cloning Terror, specifically the archive of Abu Ghraib photos. White talked about an exhibition with Ottabenga Jones and Associates that she co-curated at the Menil Collection. K8 Hardy talked about her work with LTTR, a feminist genderqueer artist collective that, among other things, published a journal.

Collecting & Collectivity
February 15 – March 22, 2008
Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX

Collecting & Collectivity was an exhibition about two seemingly opposite ideas. Collecting, the gathering of objects, is usually associated with the marketplace. On the other hand, collectivity, the gathering of people, is often thought of in reaction to the marketplace. It is about a group of people constructing a set of shared values and acting accordingly. Politically, collecting is associated with capitalism and collectivity with communism. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, is there a new paradigm for collectivism that can be informed by collecting? How independent can artists be from the market? If art can be made by more than one individual, how does that affect the trend of the art star as a lone genius?

This exhibition brings together seven artists and collaborative teams that challenge the separation between collecting and collectivity. The artists included: Danica Phelps, Team SHaG (Amy Sillman, David Humphrey and Elliot Green), Daniel Lefcourt, Michael Smith and Joshua White, Basekamp, Julie Ault and Martin Beck, and Ottabenga Jones & Associates.

Collecting & Collectivity: Contemporary Art at the Interstices of Acquisition and Community was a panel co-chaired by Noah Simblist and Charissa Terranova at the 96th Annual Conference of the College Art Association in Dallas, Texas February 20-23, 2008. It included papers by Dr. Catherine Caesar, Dr. Marian Mazzone, Dr. Pamela Smart, and artist Lynn McCabe.

collecting and collectivity brochure.pdf