Run of the Mill: A Brief History of Contemporary Art Production, Glenn Adamson and Julia Bryan-Wilson

Glenn Adamson and Julia Bryan-Wilson, in the essay Run of the Mill: A Brief History of Contemporary Art Production for Counter-Production part 3 (Generali Foundation) write about Letters 2004-2006:

Art today still negotiates global networks of power, and it does so through systems of production even more widely distributed than the one Vallance put into motion. The current context, of course, is different. As in so many other areas of art-making, artists today have much greater self-awareness when it comes to involving others in their work. Cultural Ties seems frankly naive in comparison with a recent work by the artist Martin John Callanan, entitled Letters 2004–2006. The premise was similar. Callanan sent a typed note to various political and religious leaders, reading only, “I respect your authority” or “When will it end?”. The responses he got are comparable to those Vallance elicited—mainly form letters, as well as a few personalized notes (usually either baffled, intrigued, or both). Yet if Vallance  extended an offer of universal friendship, Callanan instead addressed shadowy realms of power, expecting and getting no adequate reply. This shift from optimism to resignation captures a general change in tone when it comes to artistic production. In today’s hypernetworked society, “cultural ties” are all too evident; connection itself has become a primary mechanism of late capital.

Full essay in PDF