John Kelsey

Artist, critic, and gallerist John Kelsey cofounded the artists' collective The Bernadette Corporation, author of the novel Reena Spaulings (Semiotext(e)).

  • Rich Texts

    Rich Texts

    Selected Writing for Art

    John Kelsey

    Compiled for the first time here, the critic, artist, gallerist, dealer, translator John Kelsey's selected essays gamesomely convey some of the most poignant challenges in the art world and in the many social roles it creates. “When the critic chooses to become a smuggler, a hack, a cook, or an artist,” Kelsey said at a 2007 conference at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main, “it's maybe because criticism as such remains tied to an outmoded social relation.” It is precisely this relation that Kelsey intends to not only critique but also to surpass. In this way, Kelsey's “Rich Texts” play the double role of explaining the art world and actively participating in it; they close the distance between the work of art and how we talk about it.

    Originally published in Artforum—where Kelsey is a contributing editor—Texte zur Kunst, Parkett, and various artists' catalogues, the essays compiled in Rich Texts have all been written over the last decade, and therefore embody a timeliness that strikes at the core of the contemporary art world and the crises that have come to define it.

    Institut für Kunstkritik Series

    • Paperback $19.95
  • Corporate Mentality

    Corporate Mentality

    John Kelsey and Aleksandra Mir

    Calling for a reassessment of the function of art in late capitalist society, Corporate Mentality focuses on the complex and ambiguous ways artistic production inhabits corporate processes, abandoning the autonomy of the artwork in order to elaborate resistant approaches to a world increasingly determined by commercial strategies and market concerns.

    Based on an archive (1995–2001) maintained by Aleksandra Mir, it presents a diverse spectrum of artists who take on business as site, as material, and as subject of their work. As Will Bradley writes in frieze, “The book focuses on … an essential area of interest as artists wake up to the reality of the Clinton-era fantasy of ethical corporatism. The plan came out of Mir and Kelsey's realization that the publicity industry wasn't stealing artists' ideas, but simply employing artists, like Mir herself, who needed a day job. 'Radical' aesthetics that had taken at least six months to travel (we're in New York here) from downtown to uptown were now transferred almost instantaneously, causing artists to reassess their methods.”

    Aleksandra Mir is an artist based in New York and Palermo, Sicily. John Kelsey is a founding member of Bernadette Corporation and co-Director of Reena Spaulings Fine Art.

    Contributors Absolute Vodka, Atelier van Lieshout, Bernadette Corporation, Will Bradley, Claude Closky, Anthony Davies/Simon Ford, Dejanov & Heger, Liam Gillick /Carey Young, Gareth James, Laura K. Jones, Lars Bang Larsen, Matthieu Laurette, Daniel Pflumm, Purple Institute, Bennett Simpson, Superflex, Piotr Uklanski, et al.

    • Paperback $19.95

Contributor

  • Tense and Spaced Out

    Tense and Spaced Out

    Polar Nights, Glacial Chaos, and the Ecology of Misery

    Blake Rayne, Katherine Pickard, and Tim Saltarelli

    Monograph covering the last ten years of the artist Blake Rayne's output, a mode of abstract painting irrevocably marked by conceptual art.

    Blake Rayne's paintings stem from the generative duplicity of words like Script, Folder, Application, Dissolve, and Screen. These operative terms situate the work between forms of linguistic description and the history of reflexive material practices in art. He begins from an orientation that considers the terms “painter” and “painting” as fictions. They have no stable material definition, but rather are shaped by evolving social, institutional, and physical relations. Conceived as a work, this monograph covers the last ten years of the artist's output and culminates in his first survey exhibition at the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas. Shifting sequences of varying material treatments guide us through the linguistic, institutional, and physical relations that have shaped Rayne's painting practice. The book is united under the structuring sign of cinema, with each section existing like a shot in a film, if you will, that is necessarily informed by and in dialogue with those that come before and after it. The main essays by John Kelsey and Jaleh Mansoor respectively situate Rayne's art within the urban cultural circumstances of New York during the last decade, and his specific position as a painter in relation to other painters of his generation, such as Cheyney Thomson. Mansoor further skillfully places the artist in a wider historical context. Shorter texts by gallerist David Lewis, artists Laura Owens and Sean Paul, as well as curator Javier Sánchez Martínez, illuminate other aspects of Rayne's work, and weave together a range of ideas and tones, from the history of corporate design to the rise of automation; from a lighthearted intervention about “The Rule of Blake” to a museum catalogue introduction.

    • Paperback $40.00
  • Meaning Liam Gillick

    Meaning Liam Gillick

    Monika Szewczyk

    The first critical reader on one of today's most pivotal (and perplexing) contemporary artists.

    Liam Gillick emerged as part of the generation of “Young British Artists” who energized the British art scene in the 1980s and 1990s. He is now one of the most influential (and perplexing) artists in all of contemporary art. Gillick's discursive mode of art practice—often associated with “relational aesthetics”—complicates object production, embraces the exhibition as medium, and explores the social role and function of art. His body of work includes variations on “discussion platforms” (architectural structures that question or facilitate social interaction), text sculptures, and published texts that reflect on the increasing gap between utopian idealism and the real world. Artist, writer, curator, and provocateur, Gillick explores how an artistic practice can be conducted and represented, while at the same time questioning curatorial practice and the conventions of applied design. This reader coincides with a year-long, multi-venue, mid-career retrospective that serves both as a continuous investigation into Gillick's practice and an in-depth study of his work to date. The book offers a range of critical perspectives on Gillick's work. Among them: political scientist Chantall Mouffe develops her notion of radical democracy and antagonism; sociologist Maurizio Lazzarato (whose theorization of immaterial labor influenced Gillick) comments on the current economic crisis; philosopher and artist Benoît Maire links Gillick to continental philosophy; and Johanna Burton questions Gillick's practice in the context of feminist critique.ContributorsPeio Aguirre, Julieta Aranda, Johanna Burton, Nikolaus Hirsch, John Kelsey, Maurizio Lazzarato, Maria Lind, Sven Lütticken, Benoît Maire, Chantall Mouffe, Barbara Steiner, Marcus Verhagen

    • Paperback $19.95 £15.99
  • All the King's Horses

    All the King's Horses

    Michèle Bernstein

    A Situationist International roman à clef, written by Guy Debord's first wife, a founder of the movement and one of its influential thinkers.

    “What do you do, exactly? I have no idea.” “I reify,” he answered. “It's a serious job,” I added. “Yes, it is,” he said. “I see,” Carol observed with admiration. “Serious work, with big books and a big table cluttered with papers.” “No,” said Gilles. “I walk. Mostly I walk.”—from All the King's Horses

    Michèle Bernstein's novel, All the King's Horses (1960), is one of the odder and more elusive, entertaining, and revealing documents of the Situationist International. At the instigation of her first husband, Guy Debord, Bernstein agreed to write a potboiler to help swell the Situationist International's coffers. When she objected to the idea of practicing a “dead art,” Debord suggested that it would be instead be détournement—the Situationist reuse of media toward different, subversive, ends. Inspired by the pseudo-scandalous success of Roger Vadim's filmed version of Choderlos de Laclos's Les Liaisons dangereuses and the adolescent Françoise Sagan's bestselling novel Bonjour tristesse, Bernstein lampooned and borrowed from both Sagan and de Laclos, concocting a roman à clef that succeeded on several levels. A moneymaker for the most radical front of the French avant-garde, the novel (by its very success) demonstrated the bankruptcy of contemporary French letters and the Situationist contempt for the psychological novel, while (perhaps unintentionally) holding up a playful mirror to the private lives of two of the Situationist International's most important members.All the King's Horses is a slippery rewrite of Dangerous Liaisons with Debord playing the role of cold libertine, Bernstein as his cohort, and disguised walk-on roles by the likes of the painter Asger Jorn and others. Though Greil Marcus sparked interest in this novel in his 1989 book Lipstick Traces, All the King's Horses remained unavailable until its 2004 republication in France. This Semiotext(e) edition is its first translation into English.

    • Paperback $14.95 £11.99
  • Canvases and Careers Today

    Canvases and Careers Today

    Criticism and Its Markets

    Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw

    Canvases and Careers Today brings together contributions from the eponymous conference organized by the Institut für Kunstkritik, Frankfurt am Main. Its goal is to provide deeper insights and more complexity to current debates on the relationship between criticism, art, and the market.

    “It was especially interesting for us to watch a kind of transatlantic divide happening. While the US-American participants mostly declared criticism as obsolete while hoping for turning its weakness into a strength, most European participants departed from the opposite diagnosis: that criticism has never been as strong as it is today, since it is now part of a knowledge-based economy.”—Isabelle Graw/Daniel Birnbaum

    Contributors George Baker, Johanna Burton, Merlin Carpenter, Melanie Gilligan, Isabelle Graw, Tom Holert, Branden W. Joseph, John Kelsey, André Rottmann, Julia Voss

    Institut für Kunstkritik Series

    • Paperback $19.95