Then as now, I refuse to let go of the idea that to embark on even the most common encounter with art . . . is to think freely about social life, ideally to talk freely, and to summon a human disposition for speech, for disagreement and otherness that is part of aesthetic experience. Rhea Anastas, “Being Opposite,” Tuesday Evenings at the Modern, March 21, 2017
Rhea Anastas delivers an informative and poetic presentation on the past and present of her practice as an art historian, critic, curator, and Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine. The title of this Tuesday Evenings presentation, “Being Opposite,” refers to Anastas’s personal take on Orchard, a twelve-person artist-run gallery on New York's Lower East Side, of which she was a cofounder. Early on Anastas credits the artist Jason Simon with the perfect description of Orchard as “an idea-driven art space,” which, Anastas explains, rose out of the shadow of the death of Colin de Land, who ran a commercial gallery seen as a “criticism room rather than a show room.”
Anastas goes on to lay out exquisite instructions for how to listen to this presentation with “idea one” and “idea two,” which includes astute advice from the poet Jackson Mac Low that frees the audience of burdensome presumptions and encourages a trust of the aptitude of art.
After spending time with Orchard, Anastas moves on to the more current endeavor of an essay she was writing on Election Day, November 4, 2016, for Artforum, concerning the artist Beverly Buchanan, in which she touches on the conditions of Buchanan’s career as an African American female artist who came through the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Then bringing us back full circle, Anastas closes with the question, “What do artists own?”
Imge credit: R. H. Quaytman, Painters Without Paintings and Paintings Without Painters, Chapter 8 (Christian Philipp Müller's Picture of Andrea Fraser Performing May I Help You, at Orchard in Front of Louise Lawler's Picture of an Andy Warhol Painting), 2006. Silkscreen ink, gesso on wood. 20 x 20 inches (50.8 x 50.8 cm). Courtesy the artist and Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York