Gregg Bordowitz

Gregg Bordowitz is an artist, writer, and Director of the Low Residency MFA Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recipient of the 2006 Frank Jewitt Mather Award from the College Art Association, he is the author of The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous and Other Writings (1986–2003) (MIT Press) and General Idea: Imagevirus (Afterall Books/MIT Press).

  • Glenn Ligon

    Glenn Ligon

    Untitled (I Am a Man)

    Gregg Bordowitz

    An illustrated examination of Glenn Ligon's iconic Untitled (I Am a Man) (1988)—a quotation, an appropriated text turned into an artifact.

    The iconic work Untitled (I Am a Man) (1988) by the important contemporary American artist Glenn Ligon is a quotation, an appropriated text turned into an artifact. The National Gallery of Art in Washington presents the work as a “representation—a signifier—of the actual signs carried by 1,300 striking African American sanitation workers in Memphis, made famous by Ernest Withers' 1968 photographs.” In this illustrated study of the work, Gregg Bordowitz takes the National Gallery's presentation as his starting point, considering the museum's juxtaposition of Untitled (I Am a Man) and the ca. 1935 sculpture, Schoolteacher, by William Edmondson, and the relation of the two terms, “markers” and “signs.”

    After closely examining the canvas itself, its textures, brushwork, and structure, Bordowitz presents a theoretical framework that draws on the work of American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce and his theory of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness. He makes a case for Thirdness as a function, operation, or law of meaning-making, not limited by the gender, age, ethnicity, race, class, or personal history of the viewer. Bordowitz goes on to examine Ligon's work in terms of the representation of self, race, and gender, focusing on three series: Profile Series (1990–91), Narratives, and Runaways (both 1993). He cites such historical figures as Sojourner Truth and her famous 1851 speech, “Ain't I a Woman?” as well as influences ranging from Bo Diddley's 1955 song, “I'm a Man” to the cultural theories of Stuart Hall.

  • The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous and Other Writings, 1986–2003

    The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous and Other Writings, 1986–2003

    Gregg Bordowitz and James Meyer

    The first collection of writings by a noted artist and activist whose work has focused on the AIDS epidemic.

    The HIV epidemic animates this collection of essays by a noted artist, writer, and activist. "So total was the burden of illness—mine and others'—that the only viable response, other than to cease making art entirely, was to adjust to the gravity of the predicament by using the crisis as a lens," writes Gregg Bordowitz, a film- and video-maker whose best-known works, Fast Trip Long Drop (1993) and Habit (2001), address AIDS globally and personally. In The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous—the title essay is inspired by Charles Ludlam, founder of the Ridiculous Theater Company—Bordowitz follows in the tradition of artist-writers Robert Smithson and Yvonne Rainer by making writing an integral part of an artistic practice.

    Bordowitz has left his earliest writings for the most part unchanged—to preserve, he says, "both the youthful exuberance and the palpable sense of fear" created by the early days of the AIDS crisis. After these early essays, the writing becomes more experimental, sometimes mixing fiction and fact; included here is a selection of Bordowitz's columns from the journal Documents, "New York Was Yesterday." Finally, in his newest essays he reformulates early themes, and, in "My Postmodernism" (written for Artforum's fortieth anniversary issue) and "More Operative Assumptions" (written especially for this book), he reexamines the underlying ideas of his practice and sums up his theoretical concerns.

    In his mature work, Bordowitz seeks to join the subjective—the experience of having a disease—and the objective—the fact of the disease as a global problem. He believes that this conjunction is necessary for understanding and fighting the crisis. "If it can be written," he says, "then it can be realized."

    • Hardcover $8.75
    • Paperback $20.95

Contributor

  • Institutional Critique

    Institutional Critique

    An Anthology of Artists' Writings

    Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson

    An anthology of writings and projects by artists who developed and extended the genre of institutional critique.

    "Institutional critique” is an artistic practice that reflects critically on its own housing in galleries and museums and on the concept and social function of art itself. Such concerns have always been a part of modern art but took on new urgency at the end of the 1960s, when—driven by the social upheaval of the time and enabled by the tools and techniques of conceptual art—institutional critique emerged as a genre. This anthology traces the development of institutional critique as an artistic concern from the 1960s to the present by gathering writings and representative art projects of artists from across Europe and throughout the Americas who developed and extended the genre. The texts and artworks included are notable for the range of perspectives and positions they reflect and for their influence in pushing the boundaries of what is meant by institutional critique. Like Alberro and Stimson's Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology this volume will shed new light on its subject through its critical and historical framing. Even readers already familiar with institutional critique will come away from this book with a greater and often redirected understanding of its significance.

    Artists represented include Wieslaw Borowski, Daniel Buren, Marcel Broodthaers, Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel, Hans Haacke, Robert Smithson, John Knight, Graciela Carnevale, Osvaldo Mateo Boglione, Guerilla Art Action Group, Art Workers' Coalition, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Michael Asher, Mel Ramsden, Adrian Piper, The Guerrilla Girls, Laibach, Silvia Kolbowski, Andrea Fraser, Fred Wilson, Mark Dion, Maria Eichhorn, Critical Art Ensemble, Bureau d'Études, WochenKlausur, The Yes Men, Hito Steyerl, Andreas Siekmann.

    • Hardcover $39.95
    • Paperback $35.95