Houses To Die In and Other Essays on Art
256 pp., 6 x 8 in, 19 b&w illus.
- Published: December 13, 2022
Art critical essays focusing on artworks that, in various ways, convey a sense of unheroic "trouble."
The undead of contemporary painting, avant-garde populism, photography courting stupidity, fraught networking, synthetic atmospheres, displaced abstractions, and the mediation of pain: these are among the subjects treated in this collection of essays by art historian and critic Ina Blom. Written over the past twenty years and drawing on Blom's familiarity with the contemporary art scene as well as the archives of twentieth-century avant-garde art, these texts share a pull towards artistic projects that are not redemptive or exemplary but that rather convey a sense of—often unheroic—trouble. Leaning into ambivalence as a methodology of criticism, Blom takes a particular interest in the detours, doubts, and difficulties that run alongside avant-garde art's more constructively hopeful desires for transformative innovation and change.
Whenever I feel bewildered by our overwhelming present, I turn to the writings of Ina Blom. Her startling originality as an interpreter of complex, troubled artworks comes across in this collection of essays, all of which throw challenging aspects of the contemporary situation into sharper relief. Incisive, witty, and above all, invigorating, Blom's criticism gives thought a much-needed space in which to unfurl and linger.
Sianne Ngai, author of Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form
With breathtaking elegance and profound acuity, Houses to Die In overturns everything we think we know about contemporary culture. Blom reveals the surprising connections between finance capitalism and drugs, modernist painting and machine intelligence, disco and neurology, the designed world and the human struggle—undoing traditional binaries of spectacle and critique and finding, in the most unlikely of places, glimmers of the radical reorganization of life in the twenty-first century.
Michelle Kuo, Curator of Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Ina Blom shows doubt to be productive and imagination, a grasp on reality—in other words, she shows what criticism can be.
Barry Schwabsky, art critic for The Nation