Alexandra Midal

Alexandra Midal is a curator and Professor of History and Theory of Design at HEAD–Genève. She is former director of the the Regional Contemporary Art Funds of Haute-Normandie (FRAC) and a former assistant to the artist Dan Graham for public commissions.

  • The Murder Factory

    The Murder Factory

    Life and Work of H. H. Holmes, First American Serial Killer

    Alexandra Midal

    The simultaneous emergence of the serial killer and the assembly line as expressions of the rationality of modern production methods.

    In 1896, at the age of 35, Henry Howard Holmes, whose real name was Herman Webster Mudget, became the first serial killer in the United States, confessing to dozens of crimes. To carry out his activities quietly, he built in Chicago a building so vast that his neighbors called it the “Château.” Located just a stone's throw from the most sophisticated slaughterhouses in the world, lethal, practical, and comfortable, Holmes's building was equipped with the latest innovations. A rational, cozy masterpiece of crime dressed in slippers, Holmes's project fit perfectly into the functionalist project of the modern world.

    In The Murder Factory, Alexandra Midal examines the almost simultaneous emergence of the industrial revolution and the figure of the serial killer. Far from being a coincidence, it marks the rationality of new production methods—of which the assembly line and serial murder are two expressions. In the Holmes case, an antihero of modern history can shed light on the treatment of living things brought about by this economic, mechanical, and cultural revolution.

    H. H. Holmes's confessions, published in the Philadelphia Enquirer just before his execution in April 1896, follow Midal's text.

    • Paperback $19.95
  • Design by Accident

    Design by Accident

    For a New History of Design

    Alexandra Midal

    A counterhistory and new historiography of design.

    In Design by Accident, Alexandra Midal declares the autonomy of design, in and on its own terms. This meticulously researched work proposes not only a counterhistory but a new historiography of design, shedding light on overlooked historical landmarks and figures while reevaluating the legacies of design's established luminaries from the nineteenth century to the present. Midal rejects both linear narratives of progress and the long-held perception of design as a footnote to the histories of fine art and architecture. By weaving critical analysis of the canon of design history and theory together, with special attention to the writings of designers themselves, she draws out the nuances and radical potentials of the discipline—from William Morris's ambivalence toward industry, to Catharine Beecher's proto-feminist household appliances, to the Bauhaus's Expressionist origins, and the influence of Herbert Marcuse on Joe Colombo.

    • Paperback $26.00

Contributor

  • Dan Graham

    Dan Graham

    Beyond

    Bennett Simpson and Chrissie Iles

    The first comprehensive survey of a pioneering artist, encompassing photographs, film and video, architectural models, pavilion installations, conceptual projects for magazine pages, drawings and prints, and writings.

    Dan Graham is one of the most significant figures to emerge from the 1960s moment of Conceptual art, with a practice that pioneered a range of art forms, modes, and ideas that are now fundamental to contemporary art. The thrust of his practice has always pointed beyond: beyond the art object, beyond the studio, beyond the medium, beyond the gallery, beyond the self. Beyond all these categories and into the realm of the social, the public, the democratic, the mass produced, the architectural, the anarchic, the humorous. Graham's early work, Homes for America—a series of snapshots of suburban New Jersey tract housing accompanied by short parodic texts, made as a page layout for Arts magazine—announced a critical art grounded in the everyday, and it merged the artist's interest in cultural commentary with art's most advanced visual modes. His 1984 “video-essay” Rock My Religion traced a continuum of separatism and collective ecstasy from the American religious sect the Shakers to hard-core punk music. This volume, which accompanies a major retrospective organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, offers the first comprehensive survey of Graham's work. The book's design evokes magazine format and style, after Graham's important conceptual work from the 1960s in that medium. Generously illustrated in color and black and white,Dan Graham: Beyond features eight new essays, two new interviews with the artist, a section of reprints of Graham's own writing, and an animated manga-style “life of Dan Graham” narrative. It examines Graham's entire body of work, which includes designs for magazine pages, drawing, photographs, film and video, and architectural models and pavilions.

    Essays: Chrissie Iles on Graham's performance work • Bennett Simpson on Graham's interest and works in rock music • Beatriz Colomina on Graham's architectural pavilions • Rhea Anastas on Graham's early formation and short-lived operation of the John Daniels Gallery • Mark von Schlegell on Graham's interest in science fiction • Mark Francis on Graham's Public Space/Two Audiences (1976) •Alexandra Midal on Graham's conceptual works for magazine pages and magazine design • Philippe Vergne on Graham's puppet opera Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty (2004) • Kim Gordon interview with Graham on their collaborations and music • Rodney Graham interview with Graham on jokes and humor in art

    • Paperback $45.00