On Monday 7 December 2015 at 5.30, Art & Language will present a screening of their film Qui Pourra, 2007 in the Banqueting Hall at Chelsea College of Arts. This launch event will be their first as Visiting Professors at UAL. This short film focuses on the studio and the Art & Language’s collaborative dialogic practice. It uses Courbet’s The Artist’s Studio; A real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life, 1854-55 as its starting point. The screening will be introduced by Jo Melvin and it will be followed by a panel discussion with Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden.
Art & Language have said, ‘Qui Pourra takes its name from a remark by Gustave Courbet concerning the crowded political and artistic content of his L’Atelier du Peintre. (“Figure it out who can”). The theme of the studio has recurred from time to time in the work of Art & Language since 1982, and in the guise of the “Index” since the early 1970s. Specific reference to Courbet’s Studio was made in the series of paintings titled Index: the Studio at 3 Wesley Place Painted by Mouth, or …in the Dark. The studio painting is a genre that, according to historical convention, enables the artist to reflect on their times – to say what it is like to be an artist. The genre may propose this, but the studio is also an ideological space, a place of fictions, tropes and lies. Indeed, the studio has long been superseded as a site of production by the institution and the gallery and less.’
When conceptual art, performance, happenings and the so called ‘new art practices’ exposed the cracks of modernism’s exclusivity the activities of Art & Language have provoked reflexive enquiry, practical variety and resilience to easy categorisation. The tactics they employ incorporate performance, sculpture and painting to question genre, language and context brings a humorous ambiguity to the status of the art object, and its critical audience within the parameters of its institutional and historical framework. Their most famous work is Index 01. It was first shown in the groundbreaking Documenta 5 1972. In 1997, Art & Language were nominated for the Turner Prize, Tate in 1986, they had a major retrospective at MoMA PSI, 1999 and most recently Art & Language Uncompleted MACBA, 2014-15.
The name Art & Language was first adopted in 1968, to refer to a collaborative practice that had developed over the previous two years between Michael Baldwin and Terry Atkinson, in association with David Bainbridge and Harold Hurrell. Over the next several years it stood for a collaborative practice with a growing and changing membership associated with the journal Art-Language, first published in May 1969, and subsequently with a second journal The Fox, which was published in New York in 1975-6. Joseph Kosuth was invited to act as American editor of Art-Language in 1969. In the following year Mel Ramsden and Ian Burn merged their separate collaboration with Art & Language. Charles Harrison became editor of Art-Language in 1971. By the mid 1970s some 20 people were associated with the name, divided between England and New York. From 1976, however, the genealogical thread of Art & Language’s artistic work was taken solely into the hands of Baldwin and Ramsden, with the theoretical and critical collaboration of these two with Charles Harrison who died in 2009.
The screening is free and can be booked online.