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John C. Welchman on Paul McCarthy’s Pirate Project
April 28th, 2010

Please join us this Wednesday, April 28 at 7pm at 3092 Fraser Street, Vancouver, for a launch of Fillip #11 and a lecture on Paul McCarthy by John C. Welchman with a reception to follow. Co-presented with the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver.

Departing from Paul McCarthy’s Pirate Project, first seen in his exhibition LaLa Land Parody Paradise (Haus der Kunst, Munich and Whitechapel, London, 2005-06), Welchman will discuss some of the wider social, political and aesthetic questions raised by the artist’s work in performance, mega-installation, drawing, and video. McCarthy engages with multiple declensions of the piratic including the inheritance of Anglo-European pirate lore, a densely associative redistribution of the pirate persona and the slapstick reconstitution of sea-bandit Americana. These and other resources are overlaid in a zoning system organized around three structures that are also locations—the house boat, the frigate and the underwater world—and then reanimated in a sizzling series of generic and performative interventions that twist and spin the semantics of the maritime buccaneer in a serio-comic centrifuge of artistic, subjective and political compulsions.

Pirate Project, Welchman argues, dwells in the distressed social algorithms lodged between events, historical records, representation, and reinvention. It is the fulfillment of McCarthy’s decade-long interest in both the historical and symbolic potency of the pirate figure, whose actions are caught up a beguiling compound of social and libidinal drives which the artist incorporates, satirizes, and recathects. The pirate regime represents a continuous destabilization and re-vectoring of the violence and desires of the body: it participates in unique forms of community formation and group action; it is subject to special kinds of economic organization; and it engenders important instances of extra-legal, counter-statist, dissidence.

About the Speaker

John Welchman is Professor of Art History in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego and has written extensively on contemporary art. His books on art include Modernism Relocated: Towards a Cultural Studies of Visual Modernity (Allen & Unwin, 1995), Invisible Colours: A Visual History of Titles (Yale, 1997) and Art After Appropriation: Essays on Art in the 1990s (Routledge, 2001). He is editing the collected writings of Mike Kelley: the first volume, Foul Perfection: Essays and Criticism, was published with MIT Press in 2003; the second, Minor Histories, also, with MIT, arrived in Spring 2004; and the third Mike Kelley: Interviews, Conversations, and Chit-Chat, 1988–2004 with JRP|Ringier, Zurich in 2005. Welchman’s recent exhibition projects include essays for the catalogues of Mike Kelley’s Day is Done, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2005; Incheon International Women’s Biennial, Korea, 2007; Tim Hawkinson: Mapping the Marvellous, MCA, Sydney, 2008; Andreas Hofer, Sammlung Goetz, Munich, 2009; Joseph Kosuth: Ni apparence, ni illusion, Louvre, Paris, 2009; and John Baldessari: Pure Beauty, Tate, London/LACMA, LA, 2009-10.

In the late 1980s and early 90s Welchman had a column for Artforum while also contributing to Screen, the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, and the Economist among other newspapers and journals. He has written catalogue essays for exhibitions at the Tate (London and Liverpool), Reina Sophia (Madrid), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), and many others. He is also the founder and chair of the Southern California Consortium of Art Schools (SoCCAS) and editor of its publication series, which includes Institutional Critique and After (2006), The Aesthetics of Risk (2008), and, coming soon, Black Sphinx: On the Comedic in Modern Art (2010).

Event History
2013
  1. Slide Shows at X Marks the Bökship
  2. Institutions by Arists Launch at Et al.
  3. Intangible Economies at Artists Space
2012
  1. Institutions by Artists
  2. Intangible Economies at Art Berlin Contemporary
  3. Sumi Ink Club
  4. Grouper: Sleep
  5. Robert Ashley Speaking Thru Will Holder
  6. Fillip 16: Berlin Launch
  7. Fillip 16: Toronto Launch
  8. Pa/per View Art Book Fair
  9. It's a Book, It's a Stage, It's a Public Place
  10. Destroy All Monsters Screening
  11. Fillip at ARCO Experts Forum
2011
  1. Intangible Economies
  2. Quiz Night
  3. David Horvitz: Room 129
  4. Recent Publications
  5. Of Times Recent and Distant
  6. Secondary Information: The Persistence and Absence of Criticism
2010
  1. The AAAARG Library
  2. Everything is Dangerous
  3. Fillip 12 Now Available
  4. Unter dem Motto
  5. International Chilliwack Biennial
  6. Motto Storefront: Ooga Booga
  7. Motto Storefront: Working Format
  8. Motto Storefront: Metahaven
  9. Motto Storefront: Oscar Tuazon
  10. Motto Storefront: Andjeas Ejiksson
  11. Motto Storefront: Avalanche Launch and Screening
  12. Motto Storefront: Rob Giampietro
  13. Motto Storefront: Stuart Bailey
  14. Motto Storefront
  15. John C. Welchman on Paul McCarthy’s Pirate Project
  16. David Horvitz Artist Talk
  17. Mark Manders: Window with Fake Newspapers and Traducing Ruddle
  18. Getting Something Into One's Head
2009
  1. Autogestion Book Launch
  2. Fillip Library and Reading Room Launch
  3. Fillip Summer Sale
  4. Corinn Gerber of Passenger Books
  5. Stockholm and Berlin Launches
  6. David Horvitz of ASDF
  7. Montréal Launch and Collaboration
  8. Issue Nine Vancouver Launch
  9. Judgment and Contemporary Art Criticism
  10. Fillip Review Panel: February 2009
2008
  1. The Apartment Inhabits the Fillip Studio
  2. Vancouver Launch of Two Artist Multiples
  3. Nick Thurston of Information as Material
  4. Rotterdam Dialogues: The Critics
  5. Fillip Review Panel: October 2008
  6. Stuart Bailey of Dexter Sinister
  7. Next: Documentary Perspectives in Contemporary Art
  8. Paul Chan Screening
  9. Issue Seven Vancouver Launch & Talk
  10. 22nd KIOSK Exhibition in Rennes
2007
  1. Fillip at castillo/corrales, Paris
  2. Fillip at the New York Art Book Fair
  3. LA Launch and Talk
  4. A History of Tokyo Art Speak
  5. Issue Five Vancouver Launch
2006
  1. New York Art Book Fair
  2. Word on the Street
  3. The Invisible Reading Room
  4. Kiosk: Modes of Multiplication
2005
  1. Fillip Issue 1 Launch