Through conversations with curators and participating artists, this book revisits some of the most groundbreaking yet under-researched European and US public art exhibitions of the 1980s and 1990s: “Konstrukcja w Procesie,” an artist-driven collaboration with the Solidarność movement in Łódź, 1981; “Die Endlichkeit der Freiheit,” initiated by artists Rebecca Horn and Jannis Kounellis and playwright Heiner Müller on both sides of the former Berlin Wall in 1990; “Culture in Action,” curated by Mary Jane Jacob in Chicago in 1993; “Sonsbeek 93” in Arnhem, curated by Valerie Smith; “Fem trädgårdar,” curated by Carlos Capelán in Simrishamn and Ystad in 1996; INSITE, an ongoing series of exhibitions in San Diego and Tijuana launched in 1992; “U-media,” curated by VAVD Editions in Umeå in 1987; and Ida Biard’s “La Galerie des Locataires,” which, from 1972 until today, has used the window of a Parisian apartment as an exhibition space.
Assuming Asymmetries focuses on questions central to all these projects: How can art productively navigate political tensions? How have artists and curators addressed the ethical asymmetries of the border condition, of inside and outside, working across walls and fences—whether physical, political, or social? Why is participation so hard to catalyze and conduct? How have artworks come to constitute a practice of “situated knowledge,” engaging with the contexts in which they are produced or exhibited? And finally, what can we learn from the exhibitions discussed here when developing new, respectful forms of curating today?
With contributions by Mario Airò, Sarah Alberti, Amal Alhaag, Naomi Beckwith, Ida Biard, Wigger Bierma, Barbara Bloom, Susan Bolgar, Jonna Bornemark, Carlos Capelán, Carmen Cuenca, Quinten Dierick, Mark Dion, Stephan Dillemuth, Andrea Fraser, Clarien van Harten, Wulf Herzogenrath, Irene Hohenbüchler, Mary Jane Jacob, Suzanne Lacy, Max Liljefors, Viola Krajewska, Michael Krichman, Rune Mields, Aernout Mik, Thomas Millroth, Marielle Nitoslawska, Alfredo Pernin, Betsabeé Romero, Andreas Siekmann, Valerie Smith, Petra Smits, Christoph Tannert, Sissel Tolaas, Madeleine Tunbjer, Ryszard Waśko, Sofia Wiberg, Måns Wrange, Sally Yard, Mel Ziegler