Elena Filipovic

Elena Filipovic, an art historian, is Director and Chief Curator of Kunsthalle Basel. She is author of The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp (MIT Press).

  • David Hammons

    David Hammons

    Bliz-aard Ball Sale

    Elena Filipovic

    Drawing on unpublished documents and oral histories, an illustrated examination of an iconic artwork of an artist who has made a lifework of tactical evasion.

    One wintry day in 1983, alongside other street sellers in the East Village, David Hammons peddled snowballs of various sizes. He had neatly laid them out in graduated rows and spent the day acting as obliging salesman. He called the evanescent and unannounced street action Bliz-aard Ball Sale, thus inscribing it into a body of work that, from the late 1960s to the present, has used a lexicon of ephemeral actions and self-consciously “black" materials to comment on the nature of the artwork, the art world, and race in America. And although Bliz-aard Ball Sale has been frequently cited and is increasingly influential, it has long been known only through a mix of eyewitness rumors and a handful of photographs. Its details were as elusive as the artist himself; even its exact date was unrecorded. Like so much of the artist's work, it was conceived, it seems, to slip between our fingers—to trouble the grasp of the market, as much as of history and knowability.

    In this engaging study, Elena Filipovic collects a vast oral history of the ephemeral action, uncovering rare images and documents, and giving us singular insight into an artist who made an art of making himself difficult to find. And through it, she reveals Bliz-aard Ball Sale to be the backbone of a radical artistic oeuvre that transforms such notions as “art,” “commodity,” “performance,” and even “race” into categories that shift and dissolve, much like slowly melting snowballs.

    • Paperback $19.95 £15.99
  • The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp

    The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp

    Elena Filipovic

    A new understanding of Marcel Duchamp and his significance as an artist through an investigation of his non-art activities—archiving, art-dealing, and, most persistently, curating.

    This groundbreaking and richly illustrated book tells a new story of the twentieth century's most influential artist, recounted not so much through his artwork as through his “non-art” work. Marcel Duchamp is largely understood in critical and popular discourse in terms of the objects he produced, whether readymade or meticulously fabricated. Elena Filipovic asks us instead to understand Duchamp's art through activities not normally seen as artistic—from exhibition making and art dealing to administrating and publicizing. These were no occasional pursuits; Filipovic argues that for Duchamp, these fugitive tasks were a veritable lifework.  Drawing on many rarely seen images, Filipovic traces a variety of practices and projects undertaken by Duchamp from 1913 to 1969, from his invention of the readymade to the release of his last, posthumous work. She examines Duchamp's note writing, archiving, and quasi-photographic activities, which resulted in the Box of 1914 and the Green Box; his art dealing, marketing, and curating that culminated in experimental exhibitions for the Surrealists and his miniature museum, The Boîte-en-valise; and his administrative efforts and clandestine maneuvering in order to posthumously embed his Étant donnés into a museum. Demonstrating how those activities reflect the artist's questioning of reproduction and originality, as well as photography and the exhibition, Filipovic proposes that Duchamp's “non-art” labor, and in particular his curatorial strategies, more than merely accompanied his more famous artworks; in a certain sense, they made them.  Through Duchamp's elusive but vital activities he revised the idea of what a modern artist could be. With this fascinating book, Filipovic in turn revises the very idea of Duchamp

    • Hardcover $39.95 £32.00
  • The Manifesta Decade

    The Manifesta Decade

    Debates on Contemporary Art Exhibitions and Biennials in Post-Wall Europe

    Barbara Vanderlinden and Elena Filipovic

    Reflections from curators, historians, philosophers, anthropologists, architects, and writers on the cultural and political conditions of European exhibition practice since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Manifesta, the first itinerant European Biennial for Contemporary Art, emerged in a post-wall, globalizing Europe. Founded in 1993, it organized traveling exhibitions aimed at providing a new framework for cultural exchange and collaboration between artists and curators from across the continent. The Manifesta Decade marks Manifesta's ten years of exhibits with original essays, unpublished images, and texts that not only document the different Manifesta exhibits but also examine the cultural, curatorial, and political terrain of the Europe from which they sprang.Including contributions from philosophers, historians, and anthropologists, interviews with architect Rem Koolhaas and historian Jacques Le Goff, and essays by such curators and writers as Okwui Enwezor, Boris Groys, Maria Hlavajova, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, the collection traces the cultural and political developments of Europe in the 1990s. It reflects the debates incited by exhibitions such as Magiciens de la Terre, Documenta, and After the Wall and explores the changing roles of curators and artists in the new geo-political context. The issues discussed include the effect of communism's collapse on Eastern Europe, the role of Biennials in the context of globalization, and the ephemerality of exhibitions versus the permanence of the museum. The book's second section traces the history of Manifesta, from its conceptual foundations and contributions to artistic practices of the 1990s to the relationship of a roving Biennial to themes of multiculturalism, migration and diaspora. At a moment when biennials continue to proliferate worldwide, The Manifesta Decade takes Manifesta as a case study to look critically at the landscape from which new exhibition paradigms have emerged. The book's 100 images, both color and black and white, include unpublished installation shots of each Manifesta exhibition. Copublished with Roomade, Brussels, in collaboration with the International Foundation Manifesta, Amsterdam.

    • Hardcover $39.95 £32.00

Contributor

  • More Heat than Light

    More Heat than Light

    Sam Lewitt

    A book developed in conjunction with the eponymous exhibitions consisting of oversized custom flexible heating circuits, used for environmental regulation in the sealed environments.

    More Heat Than Light is a book developed in conjunction with the eponymous exhibitions, co-organized for 2015–16 by the Wattis Institute, San Francisco and Kunsthalle Basel. The work, exhibited at both of those institutions as well as an anonymous Airbnb rental apartment in New York, consists of oversized custom flexible heating circuits, used for environmental regulation in the sealed environments of equipment as diverse as medical equipment and food trays, in satellites and chemical vats. The heating circuits in More Heat Than Light are several times their conventional size, scaled-up and designed to draw their power and maximize the energy resources of the electrical circuits allotted for lighting within the sites they are inserted into. Energy allotted for stable artificial light is converted in this work into diffuse uneven warmth. This process is circumscribed with a strict regime of documentation. Each iteration of the exhibition is documented with a live feed from a thermal camera. The book itself, designed in collaboration with Geoff Kaplan, is conceived as a stand-alone object utilizing images taken with the thermal camera as well as research material relating to the work. On one hand, it picks-up the structure of a log of core temperatures of the sort compiled for analysis by the logistics and distribution industry. On the other hand, its format and layout utilize a two-color gradient printing process that interrupts the logical, spatial organization of the gridded screen-shots. This opposition between grid and gradient are staged in the book along a fragmentary work of theoretical fiction by Mark von Schlegell, as well as texts by Anthony Huberman, Elena Filipovic, Melanie Gilligan, and Sam Lewitt, all offering insight into some of the core themes and interpretations of the work. 

    • Paperback $42.00