Hair, A Collection

Collecting Geographies Symposium at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
March 13-15, 2014

Hair, A Collection

Excerpt:

“In his 2008 October article, Nicholas Cullinan describes Arte Povera’s perception of so-called ‘American’ art forms as having little room for ambiguity; he writes: ‘Much as a work that featured images of American consumerism and atom bombs had to be in favor of those values, according to a certain Italian reading, even Minimalism could not be conceived as a critique of Pop art’s celebration of capitalist society… to be from America was to be unquestioningly for America.’ This fictitious absolutism, much like the image of MoMA itself, is undercut by Piper, Hammons, and Hatoum, who all, through their work, somehow navigate the tension of being from a place, history, and culture whose preeminence is dependent on the exploitation and marginalization of other places, histories, and cultures from which they are also of. Hair, as material, encapsulates these tensions. Its history as commodity-fetish suggests that the bodies it refers to—those ‘othered’ artists of museums seeking diversity—can somehow also become commodity-fetishes within the institution. And yet, at the same time, hair is an organic material of loss, mourning, and political critique. The question that remains for me, and for which I do not have an answer, is whether such paradoxes can retain political potency from inside the walls of a permanent, iconic, museum collection. In other words, who become the key agents in supporting the political efficacy of such work, and what sense of resistance or activism can we charge the position of curator as archivist as having?”

Learn more about the symposium here.