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Ulises Carrión Carries On!

Aden, Maike

In: Journal of Artists' Books, 40 (2016), pp. 6-13

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Translation of abstract (English)

Ulises Carrión (1941-1989) was an artist, editor, curator, gallerist, archivist and theorist of the post-1960s international artistic avant-garde. After an early career as a successful young writer in Mexico and his studies of languages and linguistics in Europe, he settled in Amsterdam, an open and cosmopolitan city which attracted artists from all over the world to develop remarkable artistic experiments and where he reinvented himself as an artist. He cofounded the independent artists' run space In-Out Center and founded the legendary bookshop-gallery Other Books and So (1975–79), the first of its kind dedicated to artists’ publications. Due to his interest in new art forms and innovative trends, he actively participated in most of the artistic disciplines of his time: artists' books, language and sound experiments, performances, film, video and artistic research - a long time before this term was invented. Along with his artistic activities, he developed a wide range of theoretical work, highlighted by his 1975 widely cited manifesto “The New Art of Making Books".

I line with a certain cult of the artists from the 1960s and 1970s, the work of Ulises Carrión has undergone an extraordinary appreciation in a few years and it is precisely time now to discuss certain aspects of his artistic strategies in detail. I will concentrate on one of the key aspects of his body of work: his concept of plagiarism which he praises for example in an enjoyable plea for blatant stealing and which he realized again and again by appropriating past concepts, forms and names that conveys a general feeling of nostalgic indulgence, but avoids reflecting on cultural and social horizons of today pre-existing concepts, materials, forms, technologies and even social processes. At first glance this makes him an early model of very recent discourses and practices which follow the spirit of artistic "prosuming" (consuming and producing at the same time) in the twenty-first-century digital world. But is the "generation remix" of today really catching up with the concepts and practices that Ulises Carrión pioneered several decades ago? To come straight to the point: a close reading of a choice of his appropriations will reveal the contrary and demonstrate significant differences to all the variations, matchups, homages, references, quotations, parodies and allusions of today which are mostly fixed on two kinds of repetitions: the repetition of the worn out past and, moreover, the repetition of a meanwhile fatiguing trend. The text will conclude with some remarks why, in the future, too, Ulises Carrión's approach can give an interesting impetus for current discourses, strategies, and tactics that overcome clichés and open up the future to unexplored territories which can be - still today (!) - outside the mainstream of the established art world.

Document type: Article
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2017 11:52
Faculties / Institutes: Research Project, Working Group > Individuals
DDC-classification: Arts
Controlled Subjects: Carrión, Ulises
Uncontrolled Keywords: art of the 1960s and 1970s, artists’ books, plagiarism, appropriation, prosuming, generation remix
Subject (classification): Artists, Architects
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