This publication both documents and extends Martin Beck's cycle of exhibition and residency at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts in Harvard. This two-year long project focused on the exhibition histories and academic pursuits of the Carpenter Center, built in 1963 by Le Corbusier.
Martin Beck's exhibition “Program” at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts comprised a sequence of interventions, installations, events, and displays that drew on the exhibition histories and academic pursuits of the famed 1963 Le Corbusier building at Harvard University. The sequence of explorative strategies—each node of which Beck considered an “episode”—lent particular attention to the founding aspirations of the Carpenter Center, which sought to cultivate its position as simultaneously an iconic modernist building, school, and exhibition venue. Beck performed and critically reflected on the kinds of activity an institution uses to build, organize, and engage with its audiences, and, in the case of the Carpenter Center, how it performed a kind of exhibition of education in both its pedagogical framework and its public outreach. From its physical infrastructure to its communication strategies, from its foundational curricular principles to visitor tallies, from building usage to welcome rituals, “Program,” which transpired over two years, examined institutional behaviors that collectively form institutional identity and integrate audiences into a cohesive program of public address.
This book, An Organized System of Instructions, is both a document of “Program” and an extension of the exhibition.
Published following the cycle of exhibitions “Program” at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard, from October 24, 2014, to October 31, 2016.
Martin Beck (born 1963 in Bludenz, Austria, lives and works in New York and Vienna), an artist whose interests lie at the intersection of art, design, architecture, and historical inquiry, is concerned with shifts and changes of perspective that occurred in the period of late modernism; how their material, formal, and social structure impacts contemporary culture. A number of projects developed over time include investigations into the history of communal living, notably the famous American commune of Drop City; the emerging discourse on ecology and politics at the 1970 International Design Conference in Aspen, Colorado; student protest and history writing in the case of the brutalist Art and Architecture Building by Paul Rudolph at Yale University; and the impact of modularity on the exhibition, exemplified by designer George Nelson's Struc-Tube display system, etc. Beck distills from these references a paradoxical coexistence of emancipatory promises and logics of control that run through and between them.
An interrelated concern for Beck is what generates form making and what rules govern it, whether it be forms of organization, display, communication, enunciation, knowledge, or research and how it comes together, operates, and is perceived in the format of the exhibition. Conversely, in using the exhibition as a medium, Beck asks how the exhibition and the artworks therein provide and negotiate a space for this investigation.
Martin Beck holds a professorship at the Academy of Fine Arts of Vienna. In conjunction with his artistic practice, Beck also writes critically about art, design, and architecture. He occasionally also works as an exhibition designer.