Walker Art Center

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9 Artists

9 Artists—an international, multigenerational group exhibition—examines the changing role of the artist in contemporary culture. Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue featuring an essay by curator Bartholomew Ryan, in which he wrestles with the show’s themes and the questions posed by each artist. Here Ryan presents in serial form each “chapter” from this extended essay. In addition to Ryan’s essay, each artist has contributed a 16-page artist’s book to the catalogue, exploring some aspect of their practice, often in collaboration with other artists, writers, or designers.

In This Series

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The title refers to a time when art could still be discussed as a chain of progress from one breakthrough to another. Today no such sense of progress exists. 9 Artists celebrates this confusion. More

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I. Happy Pixels Hop Off into Low-Resolution, Gif Loop!

Not so much an early adopter as an eager adapter, Hito Steyerl’s work has an eerie sense of timeliness, of being able to read the tea leaves of historical materialism within the present. More

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II. Our Interdependency Is Not about Love, It’s about Function

Like many of the eight artists, all of whom will hate this sentence, Nástio Mosquito is (within reason) his own institution and plays a part in constructing the vision of what that might mean. More

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III. He Wants to See You Again, and Just Be Two Fags Who Kill

Bjarne Melgaard’s work displays a keen politics that deliberately opposes representation that simplifies, essentializes, purifies, or sublimates the messy factitude of human experience. More

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IV. On a Dark Day in a Dark Building

Liam Gillick’s practice is complex, and for many frustrating, in its refusal to decide upon a definitive site in which the “art” exists; rather, he insists on multiple points of engagement. More

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V. I Can’t Work Like This

Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s desire to study the “mechanisms of representation” is also a desire to evade them, or at least to disjoint the easy flow of prescribed information. More

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VI. Here Lies One Whose Name Was Writ in Water

“If I am working with identity, then it should be a bit more fucked up,” says Danh Vo, “because identities aren’t stable nowadays, they are complex and schizophrenic.” More

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VII. Enjoy Please Poverty

Renzo Martens insists on his work’s lack of social effectiveness, while also constructing an ethics of self-reflexivity that is a pedagogical tool to lay bare the hierarchies that govern and direct representation of the visible. More

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VIII. We Will Be Strong in Our Weakness

Yael Bartana has woven from the tortured strands of identity a trilogy that takes language out of the mouths of the eloquent and passes it into a cavernous realm of complexity and possibility. More

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These are artists who are unafraid to engage the world in broad and ambitious ways, and who deploy their identity, or at least a conscious acknowledgment of its existence, within the work. More