“Is it the intentionality described by phenomenology and the ambiguous flesh of the active viewer who enters the work of art and fully explores its most extreme possibilities that determine the limits of possible subjectivation? Or is it the work itself that defines the parameters of new potential forms of subjectivity, perhaps involving modes of awareness that dodge the framework of phenomenology? Such are the questions that constitute the ultimate horizon of this essay.” Daniel Birnbaum
A philosophical essay on time, phenomenology and beyond, Daniel Birnbaum’s Chronology was presented in frieze as a “compelling and sophisticated take on the common theme of Deleuzian immanence.” Whereas many theoretical books littering the bookshops of art institutions are laudations of excess, Birnbaum’s convictions presented in Chronology cut a way through the “caesuras of non-meaning and blankness into the thick web of sense.”
The works of artists such as Stan Douglas, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Doug Aitken, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Tacita Dean, Darren Almond, Tobias Rehberger, Pierre Huyghe, and Philippe Parreno are scrutinized as so many attempts to capture the very dialectic of time itself. As Brian Dillon writes in frieze, “Birnbaum’s notion of an art of unpredictable becoming … has its aporias too. A brief aside apropos Matthew Barney – to the effect that his art is all meaning, all of the time – is quite telling.”
Daniel Birnbaum is Director of the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main and Director of its Portikus gallery. He is also a member of the board of the Institut für Sozialforschung. A contributing editor of Artforum, he is the author of numerous texts on art and philosophy.
Text editing by April Elizabeth Lamm
Design by Surface, Berlin/Frankfurt am Main
Artistic intervention in the cover design by Franz von Stauffenberg, Berlin