Configurations of Nature and Culture in Recent Sculpture and Photography
Much of the art and art theory of the 1980s has addressed the question Abigail Solomon-Godeau asks in her essay for this book: whether "the art object can carve a place for itself outside the determinations of the already-written, the already-seen, the sign." Utopia Post Utopia takes up the debate on this issue which has crystallized around the theoretical opposition between nature and culture, or more specifically the analysis of a nature (human and otherwise) which is culturally produced. Utopia Post Utopia approaches the nature-culture opposition from both the point of view of the lingering nostalgia for an essential nature, as well as the aggressive replacement of "reality" with simulations of both the natural and man-made environment. It documents two shows: a sculptural installation conceived by Robert Gober including work by himself, Meg Webster, and Richard Prince; and an exhibition of photography by James Welling, Oliver Wasow, Dorit Cypis, Lorna Simpson, Jeff Wall, and Larry Johnson. In addition to Abigail Solomon-Godeau's contribution, essays by Fredric Jameson, Alice Jardine, Eric Michaud, Elisabeth Sussman and David Joselit critically examine such issues as the problematic nature of utopian impulses in recent art (Jameson); the question of authenticity (Jardine); the shifting relationship between the represented and real worlds (Michaud); the phenomenon of collaboration and ensemble in recent art production (Sussman); and meaning of photographic serialization and superimposition (Joselit). Distributed for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston where Elisabeth Sussman is Chief Curator and David Joselit Curator.