Lee Lozano’s Grass Piece (1969), which consists of a paragraph instructing the artist to “stay high all day, every day, [to] see what happens,” has had an unexamined role within conceptual and performance art, argues Branden Joseph: it forms a subjective counterpart to the largely objective motion studies carried out by Bruce Nauman and is crucial to an understanding of the more psychological dimensions of Dan Graham’s videos. In addition, Lozano’s work serves as a missing link between concept art and conceptual art, two developments whose relationship has vexed art historians of the postwar period. Joseph’s investigation of Grass Piece—a work that seeks to alter the consciousness of the artistic subject rather than manipulate an object or even perform with the body—will also discuss the piece from the perspective of “biopower,” as coined by Michel Foucault and extended by Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, and Paolo Virno.
Branden Joseph specializes in postwar art, focusing particularly on practices that cross boundaries between visual art, music, and film. His recent books include Beyond the Dream Syndicate: Tony Conrad and the Arts after Cage (Zone Books, 2008) and Anthony McCall: The Solid Light Films and Related Works (Northwestern/Steidl, 2005). His writings have appeared in Artforum, Bookforum, Art Journal, October, Critical Inquiry, and Texte zur Kunst, as well as in such catalogues as theanyspacewhatever(Guggenheim, 2008). He is a founding editor of Grey Room, a scholarly and theoretical journal of architecture, art, media, and politics, and is an associate professor in the Department of Art History and Archeology at Columbia University.