Reality in the Age of Aesthetics

Julien The new issue of frieze is devoted to the question of reality in the age of aesthetics.  Mark Nash on the topic:

Much has been written, some of it by me, on the ‘documentary turn’ in contemporary art. We can trace this development back both to major international exhibitions such as documenta 11 in 2002 (of which I was a co-curator) and to exhibitions focusing more specifically on artists’ work with moving images, such as ‘Experiments with Truth’, which I curated at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia in 2004–5. Exhibitions such as these sought, among other things, to explore a range of artistic practices that, in one way or another, attempted a connection with social and political reality. Current shows such as ‘Come and Go: Fiction and Reality’ at the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, and ‘The Cinema Effect: Illusion, Reality, and the Moving Image, Part 1: Dreams; Part 2: Realisms’, at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C., are evidence of the continuing resonance of these issues.

This issue of frieze seeks to explore artists’ increasing involvement with documentary by invoking the notion of artistic agency as one in which the artist, in one way or another, crosses back and forth between the domains of reality and fiction. Rather than being faced with a choice, the artist solves the problem of this relationship through his or her activity of ‘border crossing’. ‘What does it mean’, asked the editors in their brief to me for this piece, ‘when an artist creates a scenario that partly relies on existing social realities, or when they actively enter that social reality to generate work?’