New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections presents Prospectus: New York, a presentation of the work of American project artist Ben Kinmont at NYU’s Bobst Library, 3rd Floor, 70 Washington Square South, (at LaGuardia Place). The exhibition opens September 15, 2011, with a reception from 6:30-8pm, and runs through November 15, 2011.

NYU’s Fales Library Presents “Prospectus: New York,” an Exhibition of the Project Archives of Ben Kinmont September 15 through November 15, 2011

Prospectus is a traveling survey show in which a selection of Kinmont’s works from the past twenty-two years are exhibited and (re)activated

New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections presents Prospectus: New York, a presentation of the work of American project artist Ben Kinmont at NYU’s Bobst Library, 3rd Floor, 70 Washington Square South, (at LaGuardia Place).  The exhibition opens September 15, 2011, with a reception from 6:30-8pm, and runs through November 15, 2011. Gallery hours: Monday to Friday, 10:00am - 5:45pm [Subways A,C,E, B,D,M to West 4th Street; 6 line to Astor Place; R train to 8th Street.]. 

Prospectus is a traveling survey show initiated by Kunstverein Amsterdam, a ‘curatorial office’ founded by Krist Gruijthuijsen and Maxine Kopsa in September 2009, in which a selection of Kinmont’s works from the past twenty-two years are exhibited and (re)activated. Prior to arriving in NYC, Prospectus was first presented in Amsterdam at Kunstverein, then in Paris at the Kadist Art Foundation.  After NYC, in the spring of 2012, Prospectus will travel to Kadist San Francisco, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the MAXII in Rome. 

For each location, Kinmont has worked together with a different curator to conceptually develop the premise of the show. In New York the project includes the exhibition of Kinmont’s work at the Fales library and new commissions supported by Kunstverein NY and Performa ‘11.

“Ben Kinmont’s work investigates the edges of the art object,” said Marvin J. Taylor, director of Fales Library. “Since the birth of conceptual art, the art world has struggled to understand the “monetizable” product of these works. Is it the plan? Or the documentation that shows what happened—I’m thinking of photos of Matta Clark’s works that get passed off as the work itself.

“Ben’s 'archives' show that there is a plastic object–or many–inherent in the very notion of a 'conceptual' art work and that these pieces continue to accrue,” continues Taylor. “His project pieces probe relationships of the work, its instantiation, and its documentation. The Fales Library is the perfect place for this exhibition because we hold many, many collections of work by artists who were pushing the same boundaries. Ben, who is also a very important rare book seller, understands the relationship of art to the archive better than just about any one.”

"Kunstverein NY is proud to co-present Ben Kinmont's work again in New York after more than a decade,” said Sarina Basta, co-founder of Kunstverein NY.  "Kinmont's social sculptures and catalytic texts offer variations on artistic formats and modalities of distribution. His work in the fields of gastronomy, ethics, and publishing expand the language of art outside the traditional modes of viewership and participation. Within Kinmont's work in general lie the possibilities of alternative economies and new understandings."

Each exhibition is intended to be different and to reflect each curator's interest in the projects. The source material includes project descriptions and archives, past curated projects, publications from the Antinomian Press, and various photographs and sculptural objects.

At NYU Fales, the exhibition will concentrate on the relationship of Ben’s work to archives through the presentation of six projects from 1995 to the present: Our Contract, or some thoughts on archive ownership and collection, 1995-2011; Antinomian Press, begun 1995; Promised Relations; or, thoughts on a few artists' contracts, 1996-97; Moveable type, no Documenta, archive begun 2002; The Digger dug, archive begun 2004; and Sometimes a nicer sculpture is to be able to provide a living for your family, begun 1998.

Kinmont is interested in interpersonal communication as a means of addressing the problems of contemporary society through an attempt to establish a direct, personal relationship between the artist and the viewer, using the work as a mediator.  If art is supposed to be an agency of intellectual and emotional challenge, then Kinmont concludes that the audience should also be addressed beyond the institutional frame of the gallery and the museum, and that contact should be more direct.

At NYU Fales, Kinmont will reactivate Moveable type, no Documenta through the printing and redistribution of texts in and around New York. Locations will be announced in the exhibition space. Additionally, two texts about the definition of project art and its ethical considerations will be printed and distributed during the show as part of the reactivation of the project The Digger dug. These will be handed out on the street with the assistance of students from the NYU programs in Museum Studies, Anthropology, and Art, as well as available for free within the exhibition space.

During the time of the exhibition, with the assistance of Fales Library staff, visitors are invited to handle and photocopy elements from the archives free of charge. In addition, when new materials are generated from the reactivation of the above projects, the Library staff will add the materials to the archives during the time of the show.

Other events and related exhibitions in conjunction with Prospectus: New York include:

"Ethical considerations in project art," a discussion between Ben Kinmont and cultural anthropologist Laurel George, and An Exhibition in your mouth, both curated by Kunstverein NY and presented as part of Performa ’11 taking place between 1-21 November, 2011

NYU’s Grey Art Gallery exhibition, Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life, September 9-December 3, 2011

Friday, September 16, 6:30p—Conversation: Ben Kinmont and Julia Robinson, curator of Fluxus at NYU, NYU Bobst Library, 3rd Floor,  Fales Library, 70 Washington Square South, NYC


About Kinmont and Prospectus

Ben Kinmont is an artist, publisher, and antiquarian bookseller living in Sebastopol, California. His work is concerned with the value structures surrounding an art practice and what happens when that practice is displaced into a non-art space. Since 1988 his work has been project-based with an interest in archiving and blurring the boundaries between artistic production, publishing, and curatorial practices.

The book "Prospectus 1988–2010" is a collection of Kinmont's project descriptions, written over a 22-year period. The projects occur in places as varied as his own home, out on the street, in stranger's homes, and in various exhibitions such as Documenta XI.

This book replaces the sold-out eponymous title from 1997. It is printed with lead type on acid-free paper and Smythe-sewn; the color illustrations are printed with polymer plates. The current monograph is sponsored by the Kunstverein Amsterdam + New York, the Kadist Art Foundation, Air de Paris, and the Fales Library at New York University.

Published with Antinomian Press.

About Kunstverein (NY)

Kunstverein (NY) seeks to experiment with, deconstruct, reconstruct, reduce, or expand, existing exhibition formats and contexts. Creating a vital community atmosphere that reinvents individual roles within the art world, Kunstverein is dedicated to fostering new strategies of display and representation.

About Fales Library and Special Collections:

The Fales Library, comprising nearly 200,000 volumes, and over 8,000 linear feet of archive and manuscript materials, houses the Fales Collection of rare books and manuscripts in English and American literature, the Downtown Collection, the Food and Cookery Collection and the general Special Collections of the NYU Libraries. The Fales Collection was given to NYU in 1957 by DeCoursey Fales in memory of his father, Haliburton Fales. It is especially strong in English literature from the middle of the 18th century to the present, documenting developments in the novel. The Downtown Collection documents the downtown New York art, performance, and literary scenes from 1975 to the present and is extremely rich in archival holdings, including extensive film and video objects. The Food and Cookery Collection is a vast, and rapidly expanding collection of books and manuscripts documenting food and foodways with particular emphasis on New York City. Other strengths of the collection include the Berol Collection of Lewis Carroll Materials, the Robert Frost Library, the Kaplan and Rosenthal Collections of Judaica and Hebraica and the manuscript collections of Elizabeth Robins and Erich Maria Remarque. The Fales Library preserves manuscripts and original editions of books that are rare or important not only because of their texts, but also because of their value as artifacts.

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