The essays and interview in this book highlight how two threads in Vidokle's practice—unobtrusiveness and the freedom of self-sufficiency—are often interwoven, and are at the center of an intellectual proposal that undermines common assumptions about making art in the twenty-first century.
This book focuses attention on the implications of this singular undertaking: Can one be an artist without making anything that is easily defined as art even at a moment when nearly everything can be so designated? Can one play down one's own contributions to diverse projects and still be recognized as the point of convergence that unifies them?
Anton Vidokle is an artist who captures the attention of 70,000 people each day through e-flux (www.e-flux.com), as well as unitednationsplaza, Martha Rosler Library, and other traveling projects. Yet comparatively few members of this audience consider him an artist, despite the fact that he has publicly identified himself as such for over a decade and has exhibited in museums and galleries across the world. The contributors to this book emphasize two aspects of his artistic practice that are partly responsible for this disparity. The first characteristic is the self-effacing nature of his endeavors. Not only are many of his projects subsumed under an anonymous-sounding corporate identity, e-flux, but they are also nearly always collaborative. The second quality is his relative freedom from the network of institutions that is generally believed to confer legitimacy upon individual artistic practices. Vidokle, through e-flux, is able to produce, disseminate, and critically interrogate the ideas that animate his practice. He can also display the fruits of this process publicly and convene friends and collaborators to discuss and refine them. Vidokle doesn't shun conventional artistic institutions, but e-flux is a robustly healthy ecosystem that grants him the opportunity to engage them selectively.