Donald Judd, Richard Serra and the rest of them presented a community of artists with a dilemma that many saw as a dead end - a modernist endgame to be either sidestepped or endlessly restated. It was as if Minimalism either never happened or was in need of revision. Many artist's bold rejection explored formalist aesthetics and revisited earlier tropes --we saw reinterpretations of well-established artistic practices while others attempted to reconfigure and elaborate on the essence of the Minimalist agenda. For me the dilemma was about how both a rejection or embrace is fraught with irony. Judd's boxes cast a long shadow and to hide behind that shadow or pretend its not there only reinforces its imposing presence –embracing the endgame it implies.
1975: While I was in art school a new and exciting response was happening –documentary art. The evidence of earthworks, performance art and installations became more important than the activities they recorded. The artifacts of what was ephemeral or inaccessible foregrounded document-making as a worthy endeavor -on its own. The Robert Smithson film about the Spiral Jetty (1970) became a touchstone because the film itself was forced to act as the artwork's phenomenological conduit. The act of representation (shunned by proponents of Minimalism) turned in on itself as the documentary emerged questioning the relationship of artist, audience and object to the creative practice.
A reconfigured function of the document became an art in and of itself --a logical extension of the art-making practice became the formal records. During the mid-70s the John Gibson Gallery in particular championed many new artists who embraced an anti-aesthetic approach to photography. This was powerful stuff to me as I was attempting to subvert the photography making endeavor away from its conventional application --this form embraced photography's most facile application This to me was of interest but one simple fact gave me suspicions. Photography --a document-- is always about the past.
Artists to consider: Will Insley, Barry Le Va, William Anastasi, Richard Artschwager, Hanna Wilke, Dan Christensen, Susan Sontag, Elizabeth Murray, Dennis Openheim, Alice Aycock, Bill Beckley , Roger Welch, Les Levine, Mac Adams, Robert Mangold