Bringing The Land Foundation Back to Earth: a new model for the critical analysis of relational art
The Land Foundation
Arts in general
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractIn 1998, the publishing of Nicolas Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics drew together a group of contemporary art practices that took human relationships as their medium. These practices presented a significant problem for conventional art criticism, which either took an approach based on notions of artistic ethics or an approach that valued the avant-garde and “antagonism.” In this paper, the limitations of these critical approaches are addressed and the field of critical attention expanded towards an analysis of a work's discursive dimensions, operating beyond its immediate physical manifestation. Expanding analysis in this way introduces a tension between the lived temporality of relational works, as experienced by a limited audience, and their fictional dimensions within contemporary artistic discourse. Distinguishing between these two interrelated dimensions of relational works opens up the space for criticism between the work's idealistic or utopian aims and the reality of their effectiveness in a contemporary capitalist context. This critical approach is tested against the case study of Rirkrit Tiravanija and Kamin Lertchaiprasert's project, The Land Foundation in Northern Thailand. The project, a functioning farm, which also includes houses and structures by international artists and artists’ groups, including Superflex and Philippe Parreno, effectively demonstrates this tension between the work's apparently successful utopian, fictional dimension and the reality of its isolated physical manifestation. In separating the work's physical and discursive forms in this way, one is therefore able to create space for the evaluation of its political and artistic efficacy in its entirety.