Symposium: ONE DAY ON CADY NOLAND

27 April 2019 at MUSEUM MMK

Above: Susanne Pfeffer / Introduction

Both the brutal clarity and cold materiality that distinguish the oeuvre of Cady Noland turn things supposedly familiar and commonplace into manifestations of power and violence through exclusion, containment, control and punishment, but also expressions of longing for consumption and mobility. The immediacy of her works blurs the boundaries between object and subject.

„One Day on Cady Noland“ seeks to revive the discursive debate that—owing to Noland’s long withdrawal from exhibition activity—has taken place only on occasion over the past years. The lectures will examine her work from art- and cultural-historical, philosophical and artistic perspectives. In the process, such issues as her artistic method, aspects of (post-)minimalism, objectification, transgression or the differences between socially accepted and terrorist violence as a means of individuation will present themselves for discussion.

Diedrich Diederichsen / Hardware Store and Transgression: Doing your Thing

In the art and counter-culture of the 1980s, sociopaths were in great demand. After nearly twenty years of post-hippie self-realization culture, the focus had shifted to the repressed, dark side of individualism. Now the names of serial killers were part of a good education. At the same time and under the same pressure, fourth walls and White Cubes broke in two so that what they contained immediately revealed itself as tools. Randomly arranged slats appeared as swastikas and minimalist sculptures as modules of prison architecture.

Jeannine Tang / Couplings and Uncouplings

Returning to Cady Noland’s early exhibitions and their critical reception, this lecture focuses on her sculpture of the late 1980s and early 1990s, with attention to the interactions of materials and placement in her work. Even as Noland’s art was initially received within and against debates on commodity art and postmodernism, critics noted the psychosocial possibilities that arose within her process-based and postminimal methods. Emphasizing the behavior of Noland’s sculpture within the space of exhibition, this lecture addresses the objects, viewership and presentation of her work, in the context of adjacent experiments by such artists as Gretchen Faust, Jessica Diamond and others.

Peter Osborne / The Obviousness and Opaqueness of the 80s: Cady Noland’s Dirty Minimalism, Squeaky

Where does art criticism stand today in relation to the institutionalized art of the 1980s? Where does the world stand today in relation to the United States of America? How does the work of Cady Noland bring these two questions into focus together? And what does this standpoint bring to the experience of Cady Noland’s works?

Larne Abse Gogarty / For your own Security

This talk addresses the everyday signs of aggression and constrained movement alongside the repeated motifs of cults in Cady Noland’s work. By pairing these two aspects, I stress that despite the repetition of guns, chain-links, nooses and handcuffs, there’s little in her practice that signals bondage or violence as a transgressive set of symbols. Instead, those images accumulate to suggest the protection of property as a crucial all-American tenet, and securitization as a form of violence that is central to upholding property as a mode of individuation. In contrast, Noland’s engagement with extreme groupings such as the Symbionese Liberation Army or the Manson family evoke celebrity as arising through extraordinary violence, and situations where the self gets lost through becoming subordinated to the desire of others, or the integrity of the group. How do we move between these two forms of violence in Noland’s work? And how does the contrast between socially acceptable violence (“standing your ground”) and extraordinary, ritual violence relate to the production of this work during a period in American history where crime was understood as both endemic, and within the media, situated within a deeply racialized moral panic about certain social formations? How do Noland’s two forms of violence allow us to think about the gang of the 1980–90s in relation to the cult of the 1960–70s?

Inka Meißner / No Symbols, no Trade

Violence and its depiction in the media may not have changed as much over the years as the systems at our disposal for reflecting on them. Along a narrow time axis extending from the early 1960s to the present and marking Cady Noland’s formal handling of pictorial material at its point of symmetry, we will undertake to examine the cybernetic deployment of the relationship between images about violence and images as violence. It may thus prove possible to reconstruct how the place of protest has wandered from the artistic object to the level of circulation, while the logic of the “mirror device”—of market research as one of the psychopath’s most treacherous tricks, according to Noland in Towards a Metalanguage of Evil—has come into use as a method of government. Ultimately the question arises as to what that can mean for how we deal with images and their information today.

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