New in DVD Collections: Art 21, Season 5

Within the ICP Library’s extensive DVD Collection, the most recent release of PBS’s Art 21 series, completes our 5 disc holding of the Peabody Award winning documentary program on renowned International Contemporary Artists.

Season 5 (N6512 .A762 2009) is organized into hour long segments on the themes of Compassion, Fantasy, Transformation, and Systems, and features 20 minute programs on William Kentridge, Carrie Mae Weems, Doris Salcedo, Jeff Koons, Mary Heilam, Florian Maier-Aichen, Cao Fei, Yinko Shonibare MBE, Cindy Sherman, Paul McCarthy. Julie Mehretu, John Baldessari, Kimsooja, and Allan McCollum.

The subject of the first short in the Compassion set, William Kentridge speaks to the reflective relationship of Artists’ process when describing his intuitive approach to experimental animation. He recognizes:

“That if you work conscientiously and hard at it,
And there is something inside you that is of interest,
That is what will come out-
You yourself will be the film;
The film will always be you.”

William Kentridge Drawing

Jeff Koons introduces Fantasy with the observation, “I think the way art comes into the world is through a metaphysical process.” He continues his understanding of the lived, sub-conscious creative zone when differentiating in the interview that, “If you try to create art, it is a decorative process.”

These statements are especially interesting considering that Jeff Koons employs a studio factory team for actualizing his metaphysical manifestations. He considers the studio as a way “to provide” opportunities to artists. While I enjoyed all of the Artist features in season 5, what strikes me most about 21st Century practice is an ambition for feats of scale that require studio production staff communities (reliant and founded upon capitalism).

It seems, however,  that within these conventional roots, a new paradigm for group creativity is allowed to emerge. While not within large communities like Jeff Koons’ or Julie Mehretu’s (first in Systems episode), I have worked as a Studio Fabrication Assistant for several years (since finishing my MFA). I therefore understand that my work for established artists is always their work, technically achieved with my skill-set, as directed. Even so, I also understand there is an uncanny zone where thinking merges beyond the individual mind when creating together in the studio.

In some cases of collaborative craftsmanship, group studio practice also provides hope for emerging paradigm collectivism within the urgency for consciousness transformation to confront critical social-global sustainability issues. Part of my awe when experiencing Julie Mehretu’s sublimely layered surfaces is perceiving the invisible layer of meaning embedded in the energetic patterns because the projects’ scopes clearly require shared work-load contributions.

While at first it seems alarming that armies of under-represented emerging artists spend precious creative hours creating the work of international art stars, the teamwork of the collaborative making process can go beyond the commodity created for the proprietary studio of employ.

As Jeff Koons states in his season 5 episode: “Objects are metaphors for people. It always turns out to be about ‘others.’ It’s not about accepting that object — high/low culture–  it’s about the acceptance of others.” Holding no naive idealism for the day-to-day realities of day-job fabrication, it does seen that Jeff Koons’ army has found a window beyond the studio’s entrenchent in conventionally-progressed capitalism. The idealist in me returns to ask, how might a worldview that becomes possible via acceptance of each other as a creative community translate to other day job communities as well?

~aka “Courtney, Library Assistant”


allan nederpelt is pleased to announce the opening of TEAM WORK—a group show that includes seventy-seven artists who work collectively to assist a major figure in the art world.

The exhibition functions as a social-artistic experiment to explore the similarities and differences in the work of this large group of individuals who spend the greater part of their day together. We may also think of it as a search for a common thread that could exist in the work through unified ideologies, aesthetics or artistic philosophies.

By gathering these emerging artists in a group show for the first time, TEAM WORK further explores the collective unconscious, celebrates diversity in a new context and opens up a dialogue for extraordinary conversation. This is a platform for the sharing of ideas and creative investigations.

TEAM WORK illuminates the necessity to create and reminds us of what power there is in participation and community—each voice, insight and expression of the individual is a contribution.

Opening: Saturday, December 4, 6–9 pm
Curated by: Eva Schmidt
Music by: DJ Kirmet, Albert Shelton, and DJ Mayonnaise Hands
Opening night Performance by: Francis Stallings
Performances by: Prema Murthy, Francis Stallings, and Eva Schmidt, Friday, December 10, 8 pm
On view December 4–5 and 11–12, 1–6 pm, or by appointment
Location: allan nederpelt, 60 Freeman Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Phone 718.928.4999,

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