Jack Segbars
Author, Platform and Spectator
14.08.2020 — 01.11.2020
The Author, Platform and Spectator
The Author-Function in Artistic Production Now
14.08.2020 — 18.10.2020

A video interview project initiated by Jack Segbars, consisting of seven interviews with artists, curators, theoreticians, and organizers of educational and artistic platforms. These were selected for their relationship to the infrastructure of artistic production, meaning the interconnected field of art that consists of museums, independent art-space, knowledge-production and presentation platforms (biennales, projects etc.). Most participants occupy hybrid forms with regard to the aforementioned positions, and all are active both in the realm of art production and in that of its discourse. This characterizes the current day model of art production and constitutes its ‘apparatus’. This artistic project aims to elucidate the nature of this apparatus and the complex issue of joint authorship in contemporary art-production.

An artwork can be understood as the aggregation of an artistic proposition, which, in its reading (critical reception and encounter) and the way in which it is presented, begets its meaning, relevance and form. Following in the footsteps of various theorists, from Friedrich von Schlegel to Walter Benjamin, the role of the “observer” is to complete the artwork, understood as the continuous productive interplay between making and perception/reception. This processual idea of art is therefore fully dependent on the way it is distributed and attributed with meaning (the institutional as observer). The wider chain of production can therefore be seen as co-author, putting the distinctions between the various roles into perspective: the curator, the critical interpretation and the institutional mediation all participate in the networked and assembled mode of production. Furthermore, within the condition of cognitive capitalism, where distribution, critical ability and creativity in production processes have, to a large extend, become subsumed in the economy at large, it becomes important to identify and (re)trace how production — which gives form to the co-authorship of a processual object and which defines its political authorship — is organized. It thus becomes necessary to look at the infrastructure of artistic production, and the ways in which this transdisciplinary character translates into institutional authorship.

The interviews centre on how the interviewees position themselves between aesthetics, curating, platform and art. How do they perceive their authorial position within the complex of production? Where are pitfalls, obstructions, accountability and responsibility? Where or how to operationalise what Paolo Virno calls ‘dismeasure’, the potential to assess and propose sovereignty in production and in ways of being? What possibilities and political relevance emerges in understanding authorship as a communal effort of the artist, curator, critical presentation platform, site of production, and ‘poiesis’?

Participants: Sami Khatib, Charles Esche, Lietje Bauwens, Armen Avanessian, Rachel O’Reilly, Maziar Afrassiabi and Mohammad Salemy

Jack Segbars is an artist, writer, and researcher in the PhDArts program of Leiden University/KABK The Hague. He is primarily engaged in the structural set up of art production, especially in the framework of cognitive capitalism. To this end, Segbars investigates within his practise, the different positions and aspects that formally shape art: autonomy, the role of language/art discourse, the role of the curator and the heteronomy set by governance and politics. The interconnections between the different positions – critic, curator, writer and visual artist – are explored in the form of an artistic investigation. In 2009 he produced the publication ‘Rondom (All Around the Periphery)’ (published by Onomatopee) that deals with the overlap of positions and domains. In 2012 this was followed by ‘Inertia’ (published by Onomatopee), a travelogue of visits to Palestine in the context of artistic production. In 2015, as part of his PhD research, he studied ‘The Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art’ in Switzerland as a representative platform within the contemporary art paradigm. This was followed by an exhibition at ‘Tale of a Tub’, Rotterdam.
Besides his practice as a visual artist, Segbars regularly writes reviews and articles on art and art-related subjects, for instance for Metropolis M., PARSE and Open!.