What Now? 2014
Spaces Of Contradiction

Public Program
Feb 24, 2014

Monday, February 24th, 2014
Art in General, 79 Walker Street, New, York, NY

THIS EVENT IS AT CAPACITY – we are no longer taking RSVPs

Art in General and the Museum for African Art are pleased to present Spaces Of Contradiction, a conversation between Kendell Geers and Joshua Decter. This conversation is presented as part of WHAT NOW?, a series of public discussions and debates that culminates in a two-day symposium organized by Art in General in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.

Click here to read about the 2014 symposium and parallel events in detail.

Joshua Decter and Kendell Geers both believe that “Art is a Problem” (the title of Decter’s new book), even though they have never met. Geers—a South-African born artist working in Brussels—and Decter—a New York-based writer, curator, art historian, theorist, and editor—know one another only by reputation, and through preliminary interactions on social media. As part of his American lecture tour, Geers has invited Decter to engage in a lively discussion about his practice vis-a-vis issues such as art and disillusionment, protest and humor, and context and content.

Kendell Geers was born into Apartheid South Africa, and grew up on the frontlines protesting against a crime against humanity. Through his art he tried to change both himself and the world by shifting the ways politics could be understood. After a year in exile in New York where he worked as Richard Prince’s assistant, Geers returned to the new democratic South Africa, only to eventually grow disillusioned by the rape, murder, and crime that took root and transformed the democratic dream into a violent nightmare. In 2002 Geers moved to Belgium, and his work shifted away from protest politics towards protest poetics. More recently, disillusioned with the art system, and having lost faith in galleries, curators, museums, and the very institution of art, Geers embraced his most contradictory position yet and began making protest paintings.

New York-based Decter was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan by liberal, middle-class parents in the 1960s and ‘70s, in a neighborhood at the crossroads of Harlem, Spanish Harlem, and Columbia University. He experienced economic, ethnic, racial, and class diversities long before these became hot button issues in academia, and the art world. Decter’s new book, Art is a Problem: Selected Criticism, Essays, Interviews and Curatorial Projects (1986-2012), is published by JRP|Ringier. The book examines contemporary art in relation to its various ideological, public, discursive, and social contexts. Decter seeks to unpack art’s paradoxical condition: art problematizes, and is intrinsically a problem. From this standpoint, he analyzes art’s definitions, functions, ethical entanglements, societal aspirations, and cultural contradictions.

Kendell Geers, born in May 1968, lives and works in Brussels. kendellgeers.com.

Joshua Decter, born in 1962, is a New York-based writer, curator, art historian, theorist, and editor. Decter has been writing on art and curating since the mid-1980s for a variety of periodicals (Artforum, etc.) and institutions (PS1, Kunsthalle Vienna, Santa Monica Museum of Art, etc.), and has taught at schools such as Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies, The School of Visual Arts, New York University, and UCLA. In 2011, Decter founded the MA Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere program at USC in Los Angeles. More information on his book, Art is a Problem, can be found on Artbook, Amazon, and Guernica Magazine.

Image courtesy Kendell Geers

Art in General funders

Art in General, 79 Walker Street, NY, NY 10013

Project Descriptions:

What Now? 2014
Collaboration & Collectivity
What Now?: Spaces Of Contradiction