All together now


In this issue Artreview takes a look at the social economies of the artworld.

J. J. Charleswor­th examines the sometimes-controvers­ial work of Renzo Martens and the Dutch artist’s treatment of the exploitati­on of su„ering in relation to Africa and Europe, and the relationsh­ip of extraction between Western media systems and their subjects (it’s for you to judge, of course, whether or not Artreview falls into that – it tries not to, of course, but as a great writer once said, trying is lying). Martens’s broader project is to place the economics of the artworld in the context of the economics of the ‘real’ world, or cultural consumptio­n in the context of primary commodity consumptio­n. It’s a critical take on the operations of critical art, cultural capital and the wealth that funds the two.

A di„erent take on similar issues of economics in both the art and wider worlds occurs in Rosa Aiello’s videos and installati­ons. Chris Fite-wassilak traces works that explore the worlds of freelance and precarious work, so prevalent in the artworld, and the e„ects that they have on workers’ ideas of self and wellbeing. If that is very much an issue of the present, then Ren Scateni introduces the ways in which the much-overlooked pioneering documentar­y filmmaker Haneda Sumiko tackled issues of gender stereotypi­ng and the not so gradual erosion of rural life in postwar Japan, subtly inserting these wider issues into works ostensibly focused on recording more mundane and quotidian activities, in times gone by.

Elsewhere, Jo Applin catches up with Lynda Benglis, whose work, the artist asserts, is always about transforma­tion and an attempt to give abstract ideas form. As is the case with Martens’s work, some of Benglis’s early production­s (famously a 1974 spread for Artforum featuring the artist naked, oiled and clutching a dildo) split opinion, with critics unable, in this case, to tell if the work was feminist or attention-seeking in its purpose. The erotics of Benglis’s output, Applin concludes, are just as present in her work today. If a little more subtle: a flirtation between thought and feeling, between abstract concepts and the handmade. But what happens when your own identity becomes something of an abstract concept? It’s a question Fi Churchman explores while talking to American-iranian artist Shirin Neshat about her latest body of work. And yes, one of the answers might well be to set out and create a new body of art.

Meanwhile, Catherine Balston takes a look at an intertwini­ng of art and psychiatry in a former asylum on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro; artist Aaron Angell explores two examples of design and cosmology in a pair of London houses (and comes up with a new design movement while he’s at it); and Martin Herbert wonders why we encourage so many young artists to become tribute acts.

It’s all, in the end, an exploratio­n of our interconne­ctedness and more importantl­y of how our actions impact on others. Artreview

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