Collectives and Continued Global Confrontations

IngridMwangiRobertHutter’s fused performance identities rhymed strangely with Jillian Mayer’s comic games of identity, and the successive iterations of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla were seen as “heterotopia on the high seas,” while Michael Hardt pondered the collective distributed intelligence of the post-individual common. The awkward nature of finding a language in which to discuss collectivity was a repeated theme of the year, beginning with The People’s Biennial and continuing with a report from Berlin’s First Congress of the NSK State, the globally distributed “state in time rather than space” founded by a Slovenian artists’ collective. The uncertain geographies of Alec Soth’s photographs in the Appalachian hideout of a homegrown terrorist and Christy Gast’s around Lake Okeechobee made clear that the flows and displacements expressed in Ireland by the art of Dennis McNulty and across the planet by NSK extended into rural corners of the American South. Carlos Sandoval de Leon’s concealment of startling subject matter within innocuous stacks of books or other objects viewable only through Plexiglas explored the conceptual and historical spaces inhabited by the immigrant artist. José Lerma’s academicized monumental cartooning and Anthony Huberman’s ongoing project The Artist’s Institute demonstrated the firm placement of such ideas within the realms of art institutions. When the previously mentioned interviews and essays are considered in conjunction with articles on such impossible projects as Douglas Huebler’s announced intent to photograph Everyone Alive, the year’s half-dozen issues almost demand to be understood in retrospect as a collectivity, delivering a cumulative impact greater than the individual parts.