Sunday, June 17, 2007

Marc Pachter, director of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, on recent renovations: "You can choose your portal, you can mix and match as you want" (see Johanna Neuman, "A Museum with a Patented History," Los Angeles Times, 3 July 2005: E36; also Carol Kino, "Welcome to the Museum of My Stuff," The New York Times, 18 February 2007: 30).

In "‘An Archival Impulse" (October 110, Fall 2004), Hal Foster proposes an "archival art" (Tacita Dean, Sam Durant, Thomas Hirschhorn are his examples) as a form of post-canon ruin more oppositional than the database, one more "fragmentary...than fungible," too "recalcitrantly material" to be easily picked through. Foster’s contrast between the material conditions of the database and those of the archive can perhaps be set parallel to the conditions of contemporary social networking and those underlying what Bill Readings has called "dissensus," which he describes as a means of "dwelling in the ruins" – that is, of conducting social life and conversation in a post-national, post-cultural situation. Readings’s "dissensus" occurs in a ruins, not a matrix; its conduct follows the logic of opacity and obligation rather than advertisement and availability; and its participants are not subjects or identities but singularities, which are resistant, not available or "fungible," to network transactions, to the market demand of infinite exchangeability. (See Bill Readings, The University in Ruins, Cambridge, and London: Harvard University Press, 1996).
Sam Durant

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