Dominic Rahtz

"Process Art and Form"

Saturday, December 16 // 11.30h // Kunsthalle Mainz


The period of the late 1960s in American art is often characterized as containing tendencies that involve a shift in state from the material to the immaterial, or from form to ‘Anti Form.’  In the case of Process Art, the dispersal of the material that hitherto would have constituted the solidity of the object meant that the work was interpreted as ‘dematerialized,’ and, in its apparent condition as mere residue or sublimate of a process, as formless.  There was thus a negation, or a change in sense, of conventional notions of material and form, and of their relation.  In this paper, I attempt to define and account for this changed sense by laying out a theory of form derived from the contemporary discourse that is consistent with an ontology of process.  More specifically, I refer to Dan Graham’s readings of works by Richard Serra and others according to the idea of “in-formation” (a term that encompasses both production and reception), which I argue has affinities with Gilbert Simondon’s philosophy of individuation and critique of the form-matter relationship.

Dominic Rahtz is Reader in History and Theory of Contemporary Art at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury.  His research lies principally in the area of 1960s and 1970s American and European art.  Recent publications include ‘Indifference of Material in the Work of Carl Andre and Robert Smithson,’ Oxford Art Journal (2012), ‘Dematerialization and /Cloud/,’ in Eva Ehninger, Antje Krause-Wahl and Henning Engelke (eds), In Terms of Painting (2016), and ‘Reference and Self-Reference in the Work of Douglas Huebler,’ in Anäel Lejeune, Alexander Streitberger and Christophe Viart (eds), L’Art de Douglas Huebler (2017).