This world, and the world of art in particular, is so often filled with largely superfluous gestures that sometimes the best work attracts attention for displaying an economy of gesture. The best of this work can go so far as to display little or no gesture at all.
Craig Dworkin’s latest book from MIT press investigates this very vein of contemporary art. Art that is overly-considered in its sparseness of expression is often immediately dismissed by the uninterested or intellectually cynical. For the rest of us, these works can be the most bold and intriguing.
The less you do to an object, the more important each decision you make becomes. The work remains more open to interpretation and wider in possible connection both to allegory and the work of others.
Dworkin investigates the importance and under-recognized influence of a massive range of works such as Rauschenberg’s Erased DeKooning Drawing to the publishing of a blank ream of paper by lesser known Aram Saroyan. The work of John Cage makes a repeated appearance and there is a detailed appendix of audio work, all of which deal with artists who approach the use of silence.
The authors’ skill at turning over the impact and significance of a seemingly minimal artistic pursuit is such that the reader finds oneself drawn completely into the writing, digging deeper and deeper as Dworkin connects pieces of art across lifetimes and genres. One emerges from the writing reinitiated to the world of art, with a new appreciation of the impact afforded even the most minute of aesthetic decisions. It is a meaty 219 pages dealing in the best possible way with work that engages an academically pregnant state of nothingness.
By Matthew Hassell