I think the American attitude is all about power. “We have dollars, we have atomic bombs, we have the power, so shut your mouth, we are right.” I am not in an economically powerful situation. I am not in a socially powerful situation. I am an émigré. Not from a rich country but from a completely undeveloped and dirty East European country. In front of the entire Occidental world, a communist is dirty.
I am not a real communist; I am a traitor because I left my communist world. It is a really horrible, dirty situation. It means that from my position there is nothing to lose. A Marxist position: “the proletariat has nothing to lose but its chains.” I feel myself in this position.
– André Cadere
André Cadere (born Warsaw, Poland, 1934) was a key figure in an avant-garde generation that contested the nature of the art object and the institutional framework of the art world in the 1970s. Artists Space presents an exhibition curated by art historian and writer Lynda Morris that comprises material produced around his actions – documents, photographs, gallery invitations and interviews that span a period from 1972 up to his untimely death in 1978.
The actions of Cadere centered on appearances with his Barres de Bois Rond – “round bars of wood” made of brightly painted cylindrical units. Although he presented his work in galleries, these appearances at public sites and at the openings of renowned Conceptual artists, constituted a provocative approach towards art’s dependence on context. The correspondence and documentation around these interventions and his interactions with other artists, gallerists, collectors and critics serve as important sites for Cadere’s ideas, providing particular insight into his thinking around the politics of space, both social and institutional, against the backdrop of the economic crisis of the 70s.
Cadere undertook actions in cities across Europe and in New York. His first visit to New York was in 1975, and further trips over the following three years saw Cadere exhibit work in galleries such as David Ebony Gallery, as well as in public spaces. In 1976 and 1978, during afternoon walks along West Broadway, he presented a Barre de Bois Rond at locations such as a grocery store, a Chinese restaurant, and a model agency. During his visits to the city Cadere met with artists, gallerists and writers including Ian Wilson, Benjamin Buchloh, Ileana Sonnabend, Lawrence Weiner, Sarah Charlesworth and Sylvère Lotringer.
Exhibition curator Lynda Morris developed a close correspondence with Cadere in the last three years of his life, including the organization of a series of eight “pub presentations” in Oxford and London in 1976. The exhibition draws on Morris’ personal archive, and the archives of the Herbert Collection, Ghent; Massimo Minini, Brescia; and Barry Barker, London.
Lynda Morris is Professor of Curation at Norwich University College of the Arts, UK, where she established the hugely successful EASTinternational open submission exhibition in 1991. She curated the first UK exhibitions of artists such as Agnes Martin, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Gerhard Richter, and more recently was co-curator of the exhibition Picasso; Peace and Freedom for Tate Liverpool (2010).
Documenting Cadere was initiated by Modern Art Oxford, UK and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, edited by Lynda Morris and Paul Luckraft. The exhibition is the first to take place at Artists Space : Books & Talks, Artists Space’s second venue at 55 Walker Street. This location houses a bookstore, and an auditorium for talks, screenings and performances. A space for exhibitions will focus on displays that address the discursive aspects of cultural production.
Curated by Lynda Morris, in collaboration with Modern Art Oxford, Mu.ZEE, Ostend and Artists Space, New York
With thanks to the estate of André Cadere and Galerie Hervé Bize, Nancy; and Gregorio Magnani, London. Image courtesy of Massimo Minini, Brescia