Art Histories

VOX, Centre de l'image contemporaine, Montreal

From March 16 to May 19, 2012

Curator: Marie-Josee Jean

With the participation of Michael A. Robinson, Walter Benjamin, Bik Van der Pol, Gerard Byrne, Sorel Cohen, Guillaume Desanges, Mario Garcia Torres, Rodney Graham, Marina Gržinić / Aina Šmid, IRWIN, Laibach, Louise Lawler, Kazimir Malevich (Belgrade), Paul McCarthy, Ron Terada and a historical introduction with works by Marcel Duchamp.

While the universal history of art has been revealed to be a fiction that multiple art historians and theoreticians have sought to deconstruct and reconstruct, many artists, for their part, have made efforts to expose its successive determinisms and imagine alternative histories. This attitude, described as meta-narrative, retro-avant-garde or simply critiquing, aims to restore notions of fiction and politics to the ideal museum that is art history.

Even when artists become researchers and the subject of their study is historical, however, their methods differ from those of the art historian. This is because they are not so much producers of History—in the sense that the purpose of their projects is not to elucidate formal, social or explicative consistencies—as they are archaeologists of historical knowledge, more intent on disclosing the unspoken or reflecting on discontinuities and displacements. They do not conceive of History as an entity, but as material undergoing perpetual change, theirs to appropriate, reinterpret and reshape.

This exhibition provides an impetus for reflections and discussions aimed at understanding how artists act upon the history of art, and vice versa. It presents a diversity of practices—conferences, documents, exhibitions, installations, performances, photographs, videos—that have things to say about other works, but also about various discursive institutions.