What can be said about contemporary artistic practice in terms of process when the art world is seemingly at the apex of hybridity? Perhaps the quandary could be approached in terms of authorship (or anti-authorship depending upon your personal predilections). It seems to me that the cyclical de- and re-emphasis of the art object ostensibly renders even the most monolithic Richard Serra sculpture into conceptual Silly Puttydependent, of course, upon what month you happen to pick up an art periodical.
It is commonly agreed that artistic practice veered dramatically after World War II, largely due to individual responses to the question of materiality vs. immateriality; this dichotomy remains, to this day, unreconciled. I think it is also widely accepted in terms of discourse that we must dismiss this quandary altogether and focus instead on any given work's critical value regardless of process and mediumon its ability to communicate and potentially inspire.
In this issue, guest editor Paula Owen, President of the Southwest School of Art & Craft, bravely stepped up to bator, rather, battlethe question of the importance of process in terms of contemporary practice. Owen, who is herself a visual artist, presents us with a panorama of practice, dealing with a wide array of artmakers, from those whose work is inextricably bound to its fabricationwhere fabrication is, quite literally, the contentto cases in which there is no object to be had or the art object itself is decisively ancillary to the experience that surrounds it. Owen makes a clear case for the importance of hybridity in terms of process and valuing content over form.
Owen invited Ashley Kistler, Curator of the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, for this installment of VISUAL SPACE. For her tightly focused piece, Collected and Composed, Kistler sought out artists whose process foregrounds reclamation and recontextualization in a variety of media, forming an armature upon which process becomes a linkage between seemingly irreconcilable aesthetics. Dinah Ryan, Assistant Professor of English at Principia College, takes on play and game theory in terms of process in her exploration of interventionism centered on The Yes Men. Owen also invited Teresa Hubbard & Alexander Birchler to reflect of their rather complicated practice, providing us with a behind the scenes perspective on the impetus of film-based artwork.
In our MAIN section, Lyra Kilston riffs on objectivity and artistic and moral accountability in terms of images appropriated from mass media, curator Gilbert Vicario gives us an in-depth look at INDELIBLE IMAGES (trafficking between life and death) and James Bae takes on process theory in an exploration of the beguiling work of Saul Fletcher. Denton-based Max Kazemzadeh's Persian/American series occupies this issue's installment of MAPPINGS in an ingenious mélange of physicality and identity in terms of place. PROJECT SPACE, a collaborative effort by Dallas-based critic Charissa N. Terranova and Austin-based Hanna Hillerova, gives us insight on the complexities of process in contemporary practice. Go online to www.artlies.org to experience Wendy Weil Atwell's DIALOGUES with Blanton Museum of Art curators Annette DiMeo Carlozzi and Gabriel Perez-Barreiro, posted in April to coincide with the grand opening of the new museum on the University of Texas campus in Austin.
And finally, I'm certain you noticed this issue's cover. In early 2006, Atlanta-based artist Fahamu Pecou tired of designing ad campaigns for hip-hop superstars. In Fahamu Pecou is the Shit..., a suite of paintings recently on view at Conduit Gallery in Dallas, Pecou constructs elaborate fictions, placing himself as the central figure on the cover of various visual art and culture magazines. I chose to use his work not simply because of the sheer hilarity of his extended gesture but because it is eloquently declarative on many levelsculturally, both in terms of racial stereotypes and consumerism, and as a radical example of specificity in terms of process. In our next issue, Miami-based artist and critic Gean Moreno with be our guest editor, exploring the intersection/disconnection of visual art and text.