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e-flux is a publishing platform and archive, artist project, curatorial platform, and enterprise founded in 1998. The news digest, events, exhibitions, schools, journal, books, and art projects produced and/or disseminated by e-flux describe strains of critical discourse surrounding contemporary art, culture, and theory internationally. Its monthly publication, e-flux journal, has produced essays commissioned since 2008 about cultural, political, and structural paradigms that inform contemporary artistic production.
- 1 Timeline of activity
- 2 Projects
- 3 Publications
- 4 Selected exhibitions
- 5 Conversations
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Timeline of activity
In November 1998, the exhibition The Best Surprise is No Surprise, at the Holiday Inn in Chinatown, Manhattan, used a new communication technology—e-mail—to disseminate the press release. Curators Regine Basha and Christoph Gerozissis, and artist Anton Vidokle used this means to bring hundreds of guests to the 12-hour, all-night exhibition—a small, self-initiated, one-night event with works by Tomoko Takahashi, Michel Auder, Carsten Nicolai, and Peter Scott. One month later, Vidokle started e-flux. Greeted with strong interest from art professionals and institutions, e-flux's readership grew to more than 20,000 international artists, curators, and critics. In its first year, e-flux was invited to present special projects at the ARCO art fair in Madrid and at Art Basel. As the number of readers to its news digest rapidly expanded from 1998 through 2003, e-flux was largely based in a one-room apartment at 344A Greenwich Street, New York City, where work on e-flux was combined with experimental exhibitions such as Infra-Slim.
The e-flux mailing list is made free for readers by a set fee paid by museums and other institutions of art to publish their press releases and other communiqués via e-flux. All information disseminated is permanently archived for reference and research. While its network is limited to public art centers and museums, e-flux offers similar platforms to commercial galleries through its art-agenda subsidiary, and to art schools and art academies through art&education, which e-flux jointly administers together with Artforum International.
Ludlow, projects, Julieta Aranda (2003)
In 2003, the artist Julieta Aranda began collaborating with Vidokle on e-flux. According to Aranda:
In a conversation with Lawrence Weiner, we started talking about immateriality, and he raised a very important question for me, which was the degree of dependence of our projects on electricity and the internet. After this conversation, I really became interested in bringing a more tangible dimension to our activities.
41 Essex Street, e-flux journal and books, Brian Kuan Wood (2008)
In 2008 e-flux moved to a storefront at 41 Essex Street in New York, starting its activities there with New York Conversations. The same year writer Brian Kuan Wood joined Vidokle and Aranda as an editor of e-flux journal.
311 East Broadway, (2011–present)
In 2011 e-flux relocated its activities to two-stories of 311 East Broadway in New York's Lower East Side, encompassing an events space, library, offices, and an exhibition space. In addition to the daily operations of e-flux and e-flux journal, the location accommodates a year-round exhibition and programming schedule that is always accessible to the public free of charge.
During its first several years e-flux primarily focused on exhibitions and events online. In January 2001, e-flux developed an online version of the Rob Pruitt book 100 Art Ideas You Can Do Yourself, providing viewers with instructions to make an art work and inaugurating e-flux.com as an online exhibition space. Parallel to the online publication, e-flux produced a special intervention into Parkett magazine: a love letter written by Pruitt to his boyfriend Jonathan Horowitz, several thousand of which were printed as handwritten facsimile and disseminated as an insert.
Later that year, Mejor Vida Corp / 100% FREE, a project where the Mexican artist Minerva Cuevas started in 1999 in Mexico City offered visitors free MVC Student ID Cards that have resulted in millions of dollars of savings in reduced museum admissions, travel discounts, and other rebates. Annette Leddy described the work as "an anti-corporation that parodies and plays Robin Hood to greedy practices." As Daniel Hernandez of the "LA Times" "Mejor Vida Corp. went on to become an icon of contemporary Mexican art in the 1990s."
DO IT began in 1993 with a discussion among Christian Boltanski, Bertrand Lavier, and Hans Ulrich Obrist and according to Obrist became "an exhibition of do-it-yourself descriptions or procedural instructions" traveling to over 40 cities over nine years. In 2002, e-flux launched DO IT an online exhibition by Hans Ulrich Obrist of several hundred artworks in the form of instructions that any person could realize at home.
Originally a 2003 Venice Biennale project curated by Molly Nesbit, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Utopia Station poster project is a printable, online archive of posters by more than 100 artists, hosted on e-flux's website.
In 2003, e-flux launched The Next Documenta Should Be Curated By An Artist, a project curated by Jens Hoffmann, which featured reflections of a group of artists upon the conditions of the relationship between artists and curators. The project was continued in the form of a publication released by e-flux and Revolver in July 2004.
EVR (e-flux video rental) (2004–present) is a video archive, a projection space, and a free video rental. By presenting and storing works as VHS cassettes, EVR broaches questions of the musealization, presentation, circulation, and marketing of video art. The project was conceived in 2004 and was subsequently presented at various locations around the world, with the inventory of videos continuously increasing with selections made by local curators, artists, and critics. Currently, the project archive comprises over 950 videos. In 2010, the artists donated e-flux video rental to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (Ljubljana) where it is on permanent display.
unitednationsplaza was a temporary, experimental school in Berlin, initiated by Anton Vidokle following the cancellation of Manifesta 6 in Cyprus, in 2006. Developed in collaboration with Boris Groys, Liam Gillick, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Nikolaus Hirsch, Martha Rosler, Walid Raad, Jalal Toufic, and Tirdad Zolghadr, the project traveled to Mexico City (2008) and, eventually, to New York City under the name Night School (2008–2009) at the New Museum. Its program was organized around a number of public seminars, most of which are now available in their entirety in the unitednationsplaza online archive.
After unitednationsplaza left Berlin, Julieta Aranda, Magdalena Magiera, and Anton Vidokle re-opened the building that housed it as The Building (2008–2009), which hosted e-flux video rental, a reading room comprising several thousand publications on contemporary art and theory, WUNP—a web-based radio station operated by Neurotransmitter (Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere) and a series of monthly lectures by the Berlin-based critic Jan Verwoert titled Why are conceptual artists painting again? Because they think it’s a good idea—also available in their entirety in the archives. In 2008 Vidokle initiated a second iteration of the project as unitednationsplaza Mexico DF, presented by PAC (Patronato de Arte Contemporanéo A.C.). The video archive, realized by Jan Gerber and Susanne Lang and designed by Min Choi and Jeff Ramsey, is organized in four chapters: unitednationsplaza, unitednationsplaza Mexico DF, nightschool and the building.
In 2007 Julieta Aranda initiated Film Festival, by Ricardo Valentim, in collaboration with the unitednationsplaza program in Berlin. This two-month-long screening series (January 19 through March 9, 2007) included a selection of educational films commissioned by the United Nations, US Department of Education in addition to other agencies in the 1950s through the 1980s. The reels, purchased by Valentim on eBay, included "documentaries about indigenous African peoples, historical figures, and natural phenomena that exemplify Western visions of the world from the postwar period until the `80s, demonstrating how the ideological apparatus of the state builds a biased image of reality."
In 2007, after having seen Donald Judd's library in Marfa, Texas, Vidokle asked Martha Rosler if he could borrow and install her personal library at e-flux as a public reading room. Comprising more than 7,000 volumes selected from the books at Martha Rosler's residence and studio in Brooklyn and academic office in New Jersey, the Martha Rosler Library was accessible for the public use at e-flux's Ludlow Street location in NYC, subsequently traveled to art organizations throughout Europe including the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris; Frankfurter Kunstverein; MuHKA (Museum of Contemporary Art), Antwerp; unitednationsplaza, Berlin; Stills in Edinburgh; John Moore's Art School in Liverpool; and the Gallery at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In a 2006 article New York Times critic Roberta Smith described the project:
Crammed into creaky shelves are about 6,000 books owned by the artist eminence Martha Rosler - on art, architecture, science fiction, poetry, history and beyond - that form a kind of portrait of the artist's mind. Anyone can come in, browse, read and even photocopy a few pages - free....Mr. Vidokle calls the library "a useful resource that doesn't have any commercial motivation" and cites as inspiration the former artist-run SoHo restaurant FOOD, an offshoot of 112 Greene Street, where diners paid what they could.
The volumes are now catalogued on the library's page of e-flux's website.
Originally established by artists Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle in New York in 2008, Pawnshop went bankrupt at the beginning of the world financial crises, only to re-open successfully in Beijing, Art Basel and at the third Thessaloniki Biennial in 2011. Both an exhibition and an artwork in itself, Pawnshop mediates the complex choreography of art and money. As a functional pawnshop, it has an inventory of over 100 art works, some made specifically for this occasion. Contributing artists include: Armando Andrade Tudela, Michel Auder, Michael Baers, Luis Berríos-Negrón, Marc Bijl, Andrea Büttner, Annika Eriksson, Peter Friedl, Joseph Grigely, K8 Hardy, Christoph Keller, Annika Larsson, Ken Lum, Gustav Metzger, Darius Miksys, Gean Moreno, Bernardo Ortiz, Olivia Plender, Julia Scher, Tino Sehgal, Nedko Solakov, Eric Stephany, Jalal Toufic, Bik Van der Pol, and Marion Von Osten among others.
New York Conversations (2008)was a three-day public editing session of an issue of A Prior journal guest-edited by Nico Dockx, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Anton Vidokle. For this event, the storefront was transformed into a temporary free restaurant serving lunch and dinner followed by discussions that would comprise an experimental issue of A Prior. Participants included: Liam Gillick, Martha Rosler, Louwrien Wijers, Lawrence Weiner, Jan Verwoert, Miwon Kwon, Marti Peran, Sis Matthé, Egon Hanfstingl and A Prior’s editors: Anders Kreuger, Dieter Roelstraete, Monika Szewczyk, Andrea Wiarda, and Els Roelandt. New York Conversations was followed by the production of A Prior Magazine no. 18 and its presentation at Beursschouwburg Brussels in October of 2008, as well as a film by Anton Vidokle by the same name.
Initiated in 2010 and conceived as a project in 2008, Time/ Bank is a network with branches in eleven cities, where time currency (designed by Lawrence Weiner) can be obtained in exchange for other currencies, biological time, ideas, services, and commodities. As Jessica Loudis explained "By sticking 60 indisputably valuable artworks in a pawnshop, e-flux forced a clash between contradictory models of value, momentarily transforming a holding cell for unwanted or useless but valuable goods into a kind of gallery space. With the distance between goods and capital ever increasing—or at least, goods and our ability to value them—Time/Bank picks up where Pawnshop leaves off, creating a nearly closed system that’s pegged entirely to use value.” In this way Time/Bank proposes an alternative economy in which individuals and groups in the cultural fields can trade time, skills, and commodities to get things done while circumventing money. Once such iteration has been Time/food, which took place at Abrons Arts Center in New York in 2011. Time/bank has appeared as an exhibition and outpost at dOCUMENTA (13), Portikus, and elsewhere.
In 2011 e-flux presented a constellation of projects at the Kopfbau (head building), the oldest building in the Messeplatz complex where Art Basel takes place. Projects housed in Kopfbau included: Basel Pawnshop, A Guiding Light, Agency of Unrealized Projects (AUP), Guesthouse Basel, Time/bank Currency Exchange, The Book Co-op and Guesthouse Basel, a residency for young artists and curators in collaboration with Staedelschule students in the abandoned building.
AUP is a public database of censored, forgotten, postponed, impossible, or rejected art projects by nearly 2,000 artists, including Judith Barry, Heman Chong, Jimmie Durham, Yona Friedman, Philippe Parreno and many others. In the Kopfbau at Art Basel, a temporary AUP office exhibited an archive of several hundred unrealized art projects, comprising contributions received through an open call, as well those originally collated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and presented in the book Unbuilt Roads (1993). These works are now archived in a continuously updated online database.
Report (Not Announcement) is a transitional report on the state of mobility at the beginning of the twenty-first century, comprising accounts and documents submitted by forty-eight cultural producers from all over the globe and was later published as a text by Revolver Verlag, Germany. The project was conceived of by BAK (basis voor actuele kunst), Utrecht in collaboration with e-flux and curated by Binna Choi.
East Art Map is a research and archiving project developed by IRWIN of Slovenia that is a guide through the last fifty years of visual art in Eastern Europe. The map comprises 250 artists / events / projects proposed by twenty-four art critics / curators / artists and is one of the first publications from the imprint 'Afterall Books' from Afterall journal. In her review of the project Krzysztof Fijalkowski explains how visitors are collectively responsible for the "‘(re)construction of the history of contemporary art’,... put more bluntly in the byline of the project's website ‘History is not given. Please help to construct it.’"
e-flux publications began in 2008 with the first issue of the e-flux journal, edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood and Anton Vidokle. Since this time the publishing platform has expanded to include a joint imprint with Sternberg Press. Select issues of the journal and reader are marked by public events and projects initiated by the editorial collective including SUPERCOMMUNITY, an editorial project by e-flux journal commissioned for the 56th Venice Biennale.
In 2008 Vidokle organized OUT NOW!, a project-as-exhibition in response to the "near total lack of involvement or discussion of this subject by art institutions here in the only country capable of ending the occupation of Iraq." Participants included Patrick Cockburn, Friends of William Blake, Kathy Kelly, Trevor Paglen, Martha Rosler, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Jalal Toufic. During this time the work explored possibilities for a sympathetic cultural backdrop evoking urgent action and conversation toward ending the US occupation of Iraq.
Unbuilt Roads was presented as a public archive at the e-flux project space in 2009—an exhibition based on the book "Unbuilt Roads: 107 Unrealised Projects," Hatje Cantz (1997) edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Guy Tortosa. The exhibition brought together descriptions of unrealized projects by more than a hundred artists, the result of several years of international research conducted in the late 1990s by Obrist and Tortosa. A subsequent iteration of the project was presented in 2011 as the Agency of Unrealized Projects (AUP)—a temporary office in Basel, exhibiting its growing archive of several hundred unrealized art projects—as well as temporary residence at the daadgalerie in Berlin, September 9—October 20, 2012.
From May 26 – July 31, 2009, the archives of the Chemnitz-based Raster-Noton label —founded by Carsten Nicolai and Olaf Bender in 1999 — were presented at e-flux in the form of a non-commercial record store. Raster Noton: The Shop consisted of publications (featuring Raster Noton's distinct approach to graphic design), CDs (to be displayed as physical objects), and sound (for listening on mp3 players), the Raster Noton archive offered a panoramic view of the label's output of nearly 100 releases, or ninety hours of audio material.
In the autumn of 2009 (August 28–November 16), e-flux presented If You Lived Here Still... An Archive Project by Martha Rosler, the archive of the artist's foundational project from 1989, “If You Lived Here…” Part research-based artwork, part curated group show, part discursive series on and around the subject of homelessness and housing in America, “If You Lived Here…” took place at the Dia Art Foundation building in Soho, New York City, in 1989. In structuring her project, Rosler worked with the young artist and student of urbanism Dan Wiley as well as with a self-organized group of homeless people calling itself Homeward Bound, and with such groups as the MadHousers, a Southern architecture collective building “huts for the homeless.” She also worked with numerous advocacy and activist groups in the city, as well as with architects and urbanists. In the exhibition space at e-flux If You Lived Here Still... An Archive Project by Martha Rosler presented documents, photographs, videos and slideshows that revealed the original project's extensive organization. The exhibition included images from presentations since the project began at Dia in 1989 as well as materials sourced from current activist and advocacy groups.
From February 20–April 3, 2010, Allan Sekula: This Ain't China, curated by Monika Szewczyk, enabled visitors to trace key trajectories for Allan Sekula’s entire practice through two Chinas "the Cultural Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse" in the 1979 photo-text project This Ain’t China: A Photonovel and a new light box Eyes Closed Assembly Line completed in 2010. As the press release explained, “the investigation of his special interest in China leads to other questions concerning the politics and aesthetics of working class refusal, what we might call an ‘attitude of ain’t.’”
In the summer of 2010, e-flux presented Mladen Stilinović: Artist’s Books, an exhibition by the Croatian artist focusing on works produced between 1972 and 2009. In his collages, photographs, artist books, paintings, installations, actions, films, and videos Stilinović mirrors and questions the ideological signs that condition a society. The exhibition Mladen Stilinović: Artist’s Books at e-flux offered the time and space for visitors to engage and spend time with his artist's books. As Mary Rinebold explained "the artist created an anti-exhibition and an anti-opening, an event that didn't aspire to control activity or vision, and testified to Stilinović's ethic of opposites."
Gustav Metzger, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist in 2011 was the first exhibition of then 85-year-old, artist and activist Gustav Metzger in the United Stateswith a subsequent retrospective at the New Museum. The exhibition included two works—MASS MEDIA: Today and Yesterday (2011), and Historic Photographs: To Walk Into – Massacre on the Mount, Jerusalem, November 8, 1990 (1996/2011)—both part of the Historic Photographs series. At e-flux "visitors could mine local newspapers and contribute to the current conversation on credit, extinction, and the way we live now." As the press release states the work "embodies the tension at the core of Metzger’s practice: the use value of science, technology and politics as tools for societal progression, versus their criminal disintegration of the natural world and ethical tendencies."
311 East Broadway (2011–present)
In 2011, Boris Groys curated Out of Town: Andrei Monastyrski and Collective Actions inaugurating e-flux's new space on Manhattan's Lower East Side in conjunction with Performa 11. The exhibition takes as its starting point the exhibition “Empty Zones,” curated by Groys for the Russian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, 2011.
Adam Curtis: The Desperate Edge of Now, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, exhibition design by Liam Gillick (February 11–April 14, 2012). An almost complete retrospective of the video documentaries by BBC journalist Adam Curtis was presented at e-flux at the invitation of Hans Ulrich Obrist, with a selection by Curtis.
The fifth iteration of Anselm Franke's itinerant exhibition Animism (April 26–July 28, 2012) was re-contextualized by Franke for e-flux exhibition's space and consisted of his selection from the touring show.
Hito Steyerl (October 4–January 5, 2012) was Berlin-based filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl’s first solo exhibition in the US. It premiered two new video works, Abstract and Adorno’s Grey, and include her video essay from 2004, November.
For the Khalil Rabah’s first solo exhibition in the US, Pages 7, 8, 9 (February 2–April 25, 2013), e-flux presented a survey of Khalil Rabah’s work over the last ten years. Rabah’s Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind (2003–ongoing) was established, in the words of its newsletter, “to inspire wonder, encourage discovery, and promote knowledge.” For his exhibition at e-flux, Rabah presented the Summer 2011 issue of the Museum's newsletter in the form of a printed copy of the twenty-four-page document stacked on the exhibition floor for visitors to take; a red neon sign of the cover's headline, In this issue: Statement concerning the institutional history of the museum, and a new series of paintings based on pages of the newsletter suspended in sliding archival racks.
The core feature of Rossella Biscotti's The Trial (May 11–July 20, 2013) was a six-hour audio edit of the original courtroom recording from 1982–84 trials of former members of Potere Operaio (Workers Power) and Autonomia Operaia. Despite a lack of evidence, the majority of the prosecuted intellectuals—accused of kidnapping and executing Aldo Moro (head of the governing Christian Democratic Party), and leading the armed Red Brigades organization—were held in prison from 1979 until the trial's close in 1984. The thinkers of the Italian autonomia movement were the first to recognize a massive integration of labor, exploitation, and creativity that artists continue to grapple with today.
Environments, by Pedro Neves Marques and Mariana Silva (September 17–November 2, 2013) The first collaboration between Portuguese artists Pedro Neves Marques and Mariana Silva presented four new video works in conjunction with three existing video works. The exhibition considered the way in which the 1972 “Report on the Human Environment” titled “The Limits to Growth” influenced the coding of the world into a systems-dynamics model and projected the economy well into the twenty-first century, from which point on an ecological worldview would be meshed with the language of international policymaking tribunals, while finance markets and neoliberalism would become naturalized.
'SOLO SHOW* Robbie Williams (November 17, 2013–January 18, 2014) was a research-based project on art production that presented the work of fictitious artist Robbie Williams, initiated by Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Uwe Schwarzer.
Taiping Tianguo, A History of Possible Encounters: Ai Weiwei, Frog King Kwok, Tehching Hsieh, and Martin Wong in New York. January 28–March 15, 2014. Curated by Cosmin Costinas and Doryun Chong. In recent years, Ai Weiwei, Frog King Kwok, Tehching Hsieh, and Martin Wong have come to prominence in different ways. While they are all of Chinese heritage, they hailed from different places, contexts, and lineages, and have been situated in wildly divergent art historical narratives and discursive matrices. Taiping Tianguo explored actual and concrete, as well as tenuous or even possibly non-existing connections between the four artists in New York in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The second solo presentation of Mladen Stilinović’s work at e-flux, Nothing Gained with Dice(March 28–May 31, 2014) documents the great variety of media and themes comprising the Croatian artist’s work since the 1970s, spanning from language and poetry to politics and daily life, consisting of early experiments in film to visual work centering on among other subjects money, as well as failing socialist and capitalist ideologies.
Anton Vidokle initiated The Museum of Immortality (June 11 – July 18, 2014)  at the Ashkal Alwan Home Workspace Program in Beirut. “(T)he show is based on a concept by Boris Groys, and tries to realize the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov’s wild notion of “The Common Task,” whereby a heady, hallucinatory mix of science, technology, political circumstance, and spiritual fervor reimagines the museum as a space for resurrecting the dead and immortalizing all mankind.” The exhibition included more than 50 artists from Ashkal Alwan’s students and faculty to resurrect a specific person, idea or thing.
We, The Outsiders (September 5-November 1, 2014), took as its centerpiece a gigantic egg by Argentinian artist Federico Manuel Peralta Ramos titled Nosotros afuera [We, the Outsiders] (1965). The work “provides a title and script for an exhibition that investigates where consciousness begins and ends in relation to art.”
The Unmaking of Art (November 21, 2014 – January 24, 2015) is an exhibition based on Walter Benjamin’s lecture of the same name and takes “(t)he sweeping arc of Western art history (as) the subject of this voluminous exhibition, which consists of hundreds of photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, videos, books, and other ephemera.” The installation is coupled with lectures by Walter Benjamin, Alfred Barr and Gertrude Stein, addressing the construction of western art’s history.
In 2014, e-flux launched e-flux conversations "a new platform for in-depth discussions of artistic and social ideas." The shifting team of editorial contributors includes "artists, philosophers, journalists, gardeners, documentarians, designers, architects, politicians, and conspiracy theorists." In a telephone interview with Andrew Russeth for ARTnews, Editor/Moderator of e-flux conversations Karen Archey said:
'It’s a very experimental platform, and it really came out of us being avid social media users and wanting to talk about art… There are also no archiving tools for conversations about art on Facebook, which actually sometimes are extremely important.' She cited last year’s debate over Donelle Woolford as one prime example. 'There’s no way we can get that back now,' she said. 
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