According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than half of the world's population will have a depressive disorder at some point in their lifetimes. In The Aesthetics of Disengagement Christine Ross shows how contemporary art is a powerful yet largely unacknowledged player in the articulation of depression in Western culture, both adopting and challenging scientific definitions of the condition. Ross explores the ways in which contemporary art performs the detached aesthetics of depression, exposing the viewer's loss of connection and ultimately redefining the function of the image. Ross examines the works of Ugo Rondinone, Rosemarie Trockel, Ken Lum, John Pilson, Liza May Post, Vanessa Beecroft, and Douglas Gordon, articulating how their art conveys depression's subjectivity and addresses a depressed spectator whose memory and perceptual faculties are impaired. Drawing from the fields of psychoanalysis as well as psychiatry, Ross demonstrates the ways in which a body of art appropriates a symptomatic language of depression to enact disengagement - marked by withdrawl, radical protection of the self from the other, distancing signals, isolation, communication ruptures, and perceptual insufficiency. Most important, Ross reveals the ways in which art transforms disengagement into a visual strategy of disclosure, a means of reaching the viewer, and how in this way contemporary art puts forth a new understanding of depression.
Recognized in America chiefly for his films, Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975) in fact reinvented interdisciplinarity in postwar Europe. Pasolini self-confessedly approached the cinematic image through painting, and the numerous allusions to early modern frescoes and altarpieces in his films have been extensively documented. Far less understood, however, is Pasolini’s fraught relationship to the aesthetic experiments of his own age. In Against the Avant-Garde, Ara H. Merjian demonstrates how Pasolini’s campaign against neocapitalist culture fueled his hostility to the avant-garde. An atheist indebted to Catholic ritual; a revolutionary communist inimical to the creed of 1968; a homosexual hostile to the project of gay liberation: Pasolini refused the politics of identity in favor of a scandalously paradoxical practice, one vital to any understanding of his legacy. Against the Avant-Garde examines these paradoxes through case studies from the 1960s and 1970s, concluding with a reflection on Pasolini’s far-reaching influence on post-1970s art. Merjian not only reconsiders the multifaceted work of Italy’s most prominent postwar intellectual, but also the fraught politics of a European neo-avant-garde grappling with a new capitalist hegemony.
Whether it involves remaking an old Hollywood movie, projecting a quiet 16mm film, or constructing a bombastic multi-screen environment, cinema now takes place not just in the movie theatre and the home, but also in the art gallery and the museum. The author of this engaging study takes stock of this development, offering an in-depth inquiry into its genesis, its defining features, and the ramifications it has for art and cinema alike. Through the lens of contemporary art history, she examines cinema studies’ great disciplinary obsession – namely, what cinema was, is, and will become in a digital future.
Contemporary artists such as Ghada Amer and Clare Twomey have gained international reputations for work that transforms ordinary craft media and processes into extraordinary conceptual art, from Amer’s monumental stitched paintings to Twomey’s large, ceramics-based installations. Despite the amount of attention that curators and gallery owners have paid to these and many other conceptual artists who incorporate craft into their work, few art critics or scholars have explored the historical or conceptual significance of craft in contemporary art. Extra/Ordinary takes up that task. Reflecting on what craft has come to mean in recent decades, artists, critics, curators, and scholars develop theories of craft in relation to art, chronicle how fine-art institutions understand and exhibit craft media, and offer accounts of activist crafting, or craftivism. Some contributors describe generational and institutional changes under way, while others signal new directions for scholarship, considering craft in relation to queer theory, masculinity, and science. Encompassing quilts, ceramics, letterpress books, wallpaper, and textiles, and moving from well-known museums to home workshops and political protests, Extra/Ordinary is an eclectic introduction to the “craft culture” referenced and celebrated by artists promoting new ways of thinking about the role of craft in contemporary art.
Contributors. Elissa Auther, Anthea Black, Betty Bright, Nicole Burisch, Maria Elena Buszek, Jo Dahn, M. Anna Fariello, Betsy Greer, Andrew Jackson, Janis Jefferies, Louise Mazanti, Paula Owen, Karin E. Peterson, Lacey Jane Roberts, Kirsty Robertson, Dennis Stevens, Margaret Wertheim
While Indonesian contemporary art is currently on the rise on the international art scene, there hasn't yet been an in-depth study of the works of Indonesian women artists and the feminist strategies they employ within the art world. This book fills that gap, presenting the first comprehensive study of feminisms and contemporary art in Indonesia; using feminist readings to analyse the works of Indonesian women artists historically and today; illuminating the sociocultural contexts in which they have worked; and offering a nuanced understanding of local feminisms in the nation.
In Hold It Against Me, Jennifer Doyle explores the relationship between difficulty and emotion in contemporary art, treating emotion as an artist's medium. She encourages readers to examine the ways in which works of art challenge how we experience not only the artist's feelings, but our own. Discussing performance art, painting, and photography, Doyle provides new perspectives on artists including Ron Athey, Aliza Shvarts, Thomas Eakins, James Luna, Carrie Mae Weems, and David Wojnarowicz. Confronting the challenge of writing about difficult works of art, she shows how these artists work with feelings as a means to question our assumptions about identity, intimacy, and expression. They deploy the complexity of emotion to measure the weight of history, and to deepen our sense of where and how politics happens in contemporary art.
Doyle explores ideologies of emotion and how emotion circulates in and around art. Throughout, she gives readers welcoming points of entry into artworks that they may at first find off-putting or confrontational. Doyle offers new insight into how the discourse of controversy serves to shut down discussion about this side of contemporary art practice, and counters with a critical language that allows the reader to accept emotional intensity in order to learn from it.
In an ancient account of painting’s origins, a woman traces the shadow of her departing lover on the wall in an act that anticipates future grief and commemoration. Lisa Saltzman shows here that nearly two thousand years after this story was first told, contemporary artists are returning to similar strategies of remembrance, ranging from vaudevillian silhouettes and sepulchral casts to incinerated architectures and ghostly processions.
Exploring these artists’ work, Saltzman demonstrates that their methods have now eclipsed painting and traditional sculpture as preeminent forms of visual representation. She pays particular attention to the groundbreaking art of Krzysztof Wodiczko, who is known for his projections of historical subjects; Kara Walker, who creates powerful silhouetted images of racial violence in American history; and Rachel Whiteread, whose work centers on making casts of empty interior spaces. Each of the artists Saltzman discusses is struggling with the roles that history and memory have come to play in an age when any historical statement is subject to question and doubt. In identifying this new and powerful movement, she provides a framework for understanding the art of our time.
Saturated in patriotic colors, Superman and Wonder Woman are about as American as baseball and apple pie. Superman, created in 1938, materialized as the brawny answer to the Great Depression, and when Wonder Woman arrived three years later, she supported her adopted country by fighting alongside Allied troops in World War II. As the proverbial mother and father of the superhero genre, these icons appeared to a society in crisis as unwavering beacons of national morality, a quality that lent them success on the battlefield—and on the newsstand.
As new crises arise our comic-book champions continue to be called into action. They adapt and evolve but remain the same potent, if flawed, symbols of the American way. The artists in Men of Steel, Women of Wonder, an exhibition organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, wrestle with Wonder Woman’s standing as a feminist icon, position Superman as a Soviet-era weapon, and question the immigration status of both characters. Featuring more than seventy artworks that range from loving endorsements to brutal critiques of American culture, this exhibition catalog reveals the enduring presence of these characters and the diverse ways artists employ them.
The story of New York’s west side no longer stars the Sharks and the Jets. Instead it’s a story of urban transformation, cultural shifts, and an expanding contemporary art scene. The Chelsea Gallery District has become New York’s most dominant neighborhood for contemporary art, and the streets of the west side are filled with gallery owners, art collectors, and tourists. Developments like the High Line, historical preservation projects like the Gansevoort Market, the Chelsea galleries, and plans for megaprojects like the Hudson Yards Development have redefined what is now being called the “Far West Side” of Manhattan.
David Halle and Elisabeth Tiso offer a deep analysis of the transforming district in New York’s New Edge, and the result is a new understanding of how we perceive and interpret culture and the city in New York’s gallery district. From individual interviews with gallery owners to the behind-the-scenes politics of preservation initiatives and megaprojects, the book provides an in-depth account of the developments, obstacles, successes, and failures of the area and the factors that have contributed to them.
Art Since the ’80s, a new series from Reaktion Books, seeks to offer compelling surveys of popular themes in contemporary art. In the first book in the series, Gill Perry reveals how the house and the idea of home have inspired a range of imaginative and playful works by artists across the globe. Exploring how artists have engaged with this theme in different contexts—from mobile homes and beach houses to haunted houses and broken homes—Playing at Home shows that our relationship with houses involves complex responses in which gender, race, class, and status overlap, and that through these relationships we turn a house into a home.
Perry looks at the works of numerous artists, including Tracey Emin, Rachel Whiteread, Michael Landy, Mike Kelley, and Peter Garfield, as well as the work of artists who travel across continents and see home as a shifting notion, such as Do-Ho-Suh and Song Dong. She also engages with the work of philosophers and cultural theorists from Walter Benjamin and Gaston Bachelard to Johan Huizinga and Henri Lefebvre, who inform our understanding of living and dwelling. Ultimately, she argues that irony, parody, and play are equally important in our interpretations of these works on the home. With over one hundred images, Playing at Home covers a wide range of art and media in a fascinating look at why there’s no place like home.
For almost two decades of its history (1975-90), Lebanon was besieged by sectarian fighting, foreign invasions, and complicated proxy wars. In Posthumous Images, Chad Elias analyzes a generation of contemporary artists who have sought, in different ways, to interrogate the contested memory of those years of civil strife and political upheaval. In their films, photography, architectural projects, and multimedia performances, these artists appropriate existing images to challenge divisive and violent political discourses. They also create new images that make visible individuals and communities that have been effectively silenced, rendered invisible, or denied political representation. As Elias demonstrates, these practices serve to productively unsettle the distinctions between past and present, the dead and the living, official history and popular memory. In Lebanon, the field of contemporary art is shown to be critical to remembering the past and reimagining the future in a nation haunted by a violent and unresolved war.
As period, as style, as sensibility, the Baroque remains elusive, its definition subject to dispute. Perhaps this is so in part because baroque vision resists separation of mind and body, form and matter, line and color, image and discourse. In Quoting Caravaggio, Mieke Bal deploys this insight of entanglement as a form of art analysis, exploring its consequences for both contemporary and historical art, as well as for current conceptions of history.
Mieke Bal’s primary object of investigation in Quoting Caravaggio is not the great seventeenth-century painter, but rather the issue of temporality in art. In order to retheorize linear notions of influence in cultural production, Bal analyzes the productive relationship between Caravaggio and a number of late-twentieth-century artists who "quote" the baroque master in their own works. These artists include Andres Serrano, Carrie Mae Weems, Ken Aptekar, David Reed, and Ana Mendieta, among others. Each chapter of Quoting Caravaggio shows particular ways in which quotation is vital to the new art but also to the source from which it is derived. Through such dialogue between present and past, Bal argues for a notion of "preposterous history" where works that appear chronologically first operate as an aftereffect caused by the images of subsequent artists.
Quoting Caravaggio is a rigorous, rewarding work: it is at once a meditation on history as creative, nonlinear process; a study of the work of Caravaggio and the Baroque; and, not least, a brilliant critical exposition of contemporary artistic representation and practice.
"[A] profoundly enlivening exercise in art criticism, in which the lens of theory magnifies rather than diminishes its object. . . . [A] remarkable book. . . . The power of Quoting Caravaggio resides in the intelligence and authority of the writer."—Roger Malbert, Times Literary Supplement
From property deeds to shipping containers to wearable shelters to virtual spaces: what does it mean to draw a spatial boundary? To be at home? In a world in which notions of place are constantly changing, Jennifer Johung looks at new constructions of staying in place—in contemporary site-specific art, digital media, portable architecture, and various other imaginable shelters and sites.
Replacing Home suggests that while “place” may no longer be a sustainable category, being in place and belonging at home are nonetheless possible. By emphasizing reusability rather than fixed constructions, art and architecture together propose various systems of replacing home in which sites can be revisited, material structures can be renewed, and dwellers can come back into contact over time. Bringing together a range of objects and events, Johung considers the structural replacements of home as evident in artistic analogies of the prehistoric hut, modular homes, transformable garments, and digitally networked sites.
In charting these intersections between contemporary art and architecture, Replacing Home introduces a new framework for reconceptualizing spatial situation; at the same time, it presents a new way to experience being and belonging within our globally expanded environments.
Contemporary visual and performance artists have adopted modern medical technologies such as MRIs and computer imaging—and the bodily access they imply—to reveal their limitations. In doing so they emphasize the unknowability of another’s bodily experience and the effects—physical, emotional, and social—of medical procedures.In The Scar of Visibility, Petra Kuppers examines the use of medical imagery practices in contemporary art, as well as different arts of everyday life (self-help groups, community events, Internet sites), focusing on fantasies and “knowledge projects” surrounding the human body. Among the works she investigates are the controversial Body Worlds exhibition of plastinized corpses; video projects by Shimon Attie on diabetes and Douglas Gordon on mental health and war trauma; performance pieces by Angela Ellsworth, Bob Flanagan, and Kira O’Reilly; films like David Cronenberg’s Crash and Marina de Van’s In My Skin that fetishize body wounds; representations of the AIDS virus in the National Museum of Health and on CSI: Crime Scene Investigations; and the paintings of outsider artist Martin Ramírez.At the heart of this work is the scar—a place of production, of repetition and difference, of multiple nerve sensations, fragile skin, outer sign, and bodily depth. Through the embodied sign of the scar, Kuppers articulates connections between subjective experience, history, and personal politics. Illustrated throughout, The Scar of Invisibility broadens our understanding of the significance of medical images in visual culture.Petra Kuppers is associate professor of English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the author of Disability and Contemporary Performance: Bodies on Edge.
Since ’45 details the collision of American history and modern art. Since World War II, New York has been the indisputable center of the art world, and as Katy Siegel shows, it has had a profound influence on the preoccupations that contemporary art would come to have. Tracing art history over the past decades, she shows how anxieties over race, mass culture, the individual, suburbia, apocalypse, and nuclear destruction have supplanted the legacy of European artistic traditions.
Siegel’s study encompasses a variety of works, including Rothko’s planes of color, Warhol’s serial silkscreens, Richard Prince’s cowboys, Robert Longo’s Men in Cities, Faith Ringgold’s Black Light, and Laurie Simmons’s dollhouses, and moves fluidly from discussions of artists’ works, art museums, and galleries to cultural influences and significant historical events. Rather than arguing on nationalist grounds or viewing American culture as representative of a now-devalued nation, Siegel explores how American culture dominated not only American artists but created conditions that now, after the full globalization of the art world, affect artists around the world. Since ’45 will interest all readers engaged in post-war and contemporary art in the United States and beyond.
Johanna Drucker's "sweet dream" is for a new and more positive approach to contemporary art. Calling for a revamping of the academic critical vocabulary used to discuss art into one more befitting current creative practices, Drucker argues that contemporary art is fully engaged with material culture—yet still struggling to escape the oppositional legacy of the early twentieth-century avant-garde.
Drucker shows that artists today are aware of working within the ideologies of mainstream culture and have replaced avant-garde defiance with eager complicity. Finding their materials at flea markets or exploring celebrity culture, contemporary artists have created a vibrantly participatory movement that exudes enthusiasm and affirmation—all while critics continue to cling to an outmoded vocabulary of opposition and radical negativity that defined modernism's avant-garde. At the cutting edge of new media research, Drucker surveys a wide range of exciting contemporary artists, demonstrating their clear departure from the past and petitioning viewers and critics to shift their terms and sensibilities as well. Sweet Dreams is a testament to the creative processes and self-conscious heterogeneity of art today as well as a revolutionary effort to solicit collaboration that will encourage the production of imaginative thought and contribute to contemporary life.
An increasing proportion of exhibitions are curated by artists rather than professional curators, and in this book Alison Green provides the first critical history of visual artists as curators. Green’s curatorial artist emerges as a seemingly contradictory figure: someone who carries a special responsibility for critiquing art’s institutions, for bringing considerable creativity to the craft of making exhibitions and, through experimentation, someone who has changed the way exhibitions are understood to be authored and experienced—but at the same time, someone who is curiously ubiquitous.
Rather than portraying artist curators as exceptional or rare, Green establishes the fact that artists curate all the time and in all kinds of places: in galleries and in museums, in studios, in borrowed spaces such as shopfronts or industrial buildings, in front rooms and front windows, in zoos or concert halls, on streets and in nature. Seen from the perspective of artists, showing is a part of making art. Once this idea is understood, the story of art starts to look very different. Beautifully illustrated and featuring in-depth explorations of the work of revered artist curators like Daniel Buren, Goshka Macuga, Thomas Hirschhorn, Rosemarie Trockel, Hito Steyerl, Andy Warhol, and Félix González-Torres, When Artists Curate will change the way we think about and look at exhibitions.