On the occasion of John Knight’s current exhibition at Portikus, the lecture discusses two earlier, closely interrelated projects by the Los Angeles-based artist, both of which are based on the appropriation of media images. These works, each in its own way, address the history of US politics in the Cold War period: Worldebt (1994-2008) consists of slightly oversized credit cards issued tose the nation states in debt to the IWF and displaying images from the respective country; the work chronicles the development of the global economic system established at Bretton Woods in 1944 and by the same token, it would seem, defines the art work itself as an object of financial speculation; the installation Coldcuts (2008) conflates information on covet military interventions executed by the CIA after World War II with cookbook recipes from these "areas of operation" in a spectacular exhibition design. In tracing the shared genealogy of these two works (as well as in view of other topical projects by the artist), the talk will make the attempt to gain further insights into Knight's radical redefinition of the categories of site, image, medium and object in contemporary art and the concomitant dialectic of spectacle and speculation.
André Rottmann is an art historian and critic based in Berlin; he is a research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study “BildEvidenz. Geschichte und Ästhetik” and a lecturer at the Department for Art History at the Freie Universität Berlin; currently, he is working on a comprehensive monograph on the work of John Knight and is the editor a collection of essays devoted to the artist (forthcoming in the OCTOBER Files series, MIT Press); his essays and reviews regularly appear in journals such as Texte zur Kunst and Artforum as well as in anthologies and exhibition catalogues (most recently on Nairy Baghramian, Florian Pumhösl, and Gabriel Orozco).