James Voorhies | Book Launch: Beyond Objecthood: The Exhibition as a Critical Form since 1968 | September 26

Jessica Silverman Gallery is pleased to host the San Francisco launch of James Voorhies’s Beyond Objecthood: The Exhibition as a Critical Form since 1968 (MIT Press, 2017). The book signing is accompanied by a multi-vocal, audience reading of excerpts from the book, which gives a brief history of the exhibition as a form that invites spectators into temporal and spatial experiencess. The reading, like the book, will trace the changing role of the spectator in art and exhibitions from Minimalism to Relational Art, and New Institutionalism to the present.

Following the reading, cultural sociologist Sarah Thornton will moderate questions from the audience.

Location: Jessica Silverman Gallery
488 Ellis St., San Francisco, CA
Time: 5–7 p.m.

About Sarah Thornton
Based in San Francisco, Sarah Thornton is a writer and sociologist of culture. Among her numerous publications, she is author of Seven Days in the Art World (2008), a series of narratives revealing the inner workings of the institutions that contribute to an artist’s place in art history, and 33 Artists in 3 Acts (2014), an exploration of the wide-ranging characteristics and responsibilities of contemporary artists.
About Beyond Objecthood: The Exhibition as a Critical Form since 1968

In 1968, Robert Smithson reacted to Michael Fried’s influential essay “Art and Objecthood” with a series of works called non-sites. While Fried described the spectator’s connection with a work of art as a momentary visual engagement, Smithson’s non-sites asked spectators to do something more: to take time looking, walking, seeing, reading, and thinking about the combination of objects, images, and texts installed in a gallery. In Beyond Objecthood, James Voorhies traces a genealogy of spectatorship through the rise of the exhibition as a critical form—and artistic medium. Artists like Smithson, Group Material, and Michael Asher sought to reconfigure and expand the exhibition and the museum into something more active, open, and democratic, by inviting spectators into new and unexpected encounters with works of art and institutions. This practice was sharply critical of the ingrained characteristics long associated with art institutions and conventional exhibition-making; and yet, Voorhies finds, over time the critique has been diluted by efforts of the very institutions that now gravitate to the “participatory.”

Beyond Objecthood focuses on innovative figures, artworks, and institutions that pioneered the exhibition as a critical form, tracing its evolution through the activities of curator Harald Szeemann, relational art, and New Institutionalism. Voorhies examines recent artistic and curatorial work by Liam Gillick, Thomas Hirschhorn, Carsten Höller, Maria Lind, Apolonija Šušteršič, and others, at such institutions as Documenta, e-flux, Manifesta, and Office for Contemporary Art Norway, and he considers the continued potential of the exhibition as a critical form in a time when the differences between art and entertainment increasingly blur.

About James Voorhies
James Voorhies received his Ph.D. from the Department of Art History at the Ohio State University in 2012. He is currently Dean of Fine Arts, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art, and Acting Chair of the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Prior to CCA, he served as the first John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University where he conceived and directed a contemporary arts program dedicated to the synthesis of art, design, and education through exhibition of existing works and production of new commissions. He has taught art history and curatorial practice in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard, art and public space at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and art history and critical theory at Bennington College, Vermont. His writing has appeared in publications by Texte zur KunstFriezeHarvard Design Magazine, Performa as well as artist monographs and exhibition catalogues. His recent publications include an edited volume titled What Ever Happened to New Institutionalism? (Sternberg Press and Carpenter Center, 2016); Martin Beck: An Organized System of Instructions (Sternberg Press and Carpenter Center, 2017); and Beyond Objecthood: The Exhibition as a Critical Form since 1968 (MIT Press, 2017).