Peter Wollen

  • On the Passage of a Few People through a Rather Brief Moment in Time

    On the Passage of a Few People through a Rather Brief Moment in Time

    The Situationist International, 1957–1972

    Peter Wollen, Greil Marcus, Mark Francis, Tom Levin, Elisabeth Sussman, Mirella Bandini, and Troels Anderson

    Texts by Peter Wollen, Greil Marcus, Tom Levin, Mark Francis, Elisabeth Sussman, Mirella Bandini, and Troels Anderson. These photographs, essays, drawings, and original texts document the rich agit-art legacy of the Situationist International, a group of European artists and writers who emerged from such avant-garde movements as COBRA, Lettrisme, and the Imaginary Bauhaus and from the breakup of surrealism to launch a strategy of art as cultural critique. The SI's attempt to transform everyday life through paintings, films, manifestos, posters, pamphlets, maquettes, acts, and agitations culminated in the 1968 student uprising in Paris and shifted the focus of the situationist platform from aesthetic concerns to political instigation. Elisabeth Sussman describes the significance of the SI exhibit at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art in the context of American Museums Mark Francis's introduction explains the background of the SI and is followed by a documentary section that includes translations of emblematic pre-situationist and situationist texts. The SI, prominent situationist artists, and their techniques are then examined and critiqued in five insightful essays. Peter Wollen looks at the SI in light of its paradigmatic attempt to marry art and politics. He evaluates the traditions that led to and from this moment of fusion and to its successes and its failures. Greil Marcus examines Memoires, a collaborative book project by the painter Asger Jorn and the writer and theorist Guy Debord. Marcus's close reading of the book's construction in which a series of clips or "appropriations" from mass media sources were splattered with paint, shows that it literally demonstrates the situationist technique of detournement the dislocation or "turning" of the everyday. Tom Levin focuses on the films of Guy Debord and on their relation to the Lettrist cinema and the American avant-garde cinema of the early 1960s. Two brief essays by Troels Andersen and Mirella Bandini respectively take up Asger Jorn's relationship to the SI and the 1956 Congress at Alba that laid the foundations for the formation of the SI.

    Co-published with The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and distributed by The MIT Press.

    • Hardcover $27.50
    • Paperback $14.95

Contributor

  • The Cinematic

    The Cinematic

    David Campany

    Key writings by artists and theorists chart the shifting relationship between film and photography and how the rise of cinema forced photography to make a virtue of its stillness.

    The cinematic has been a springboard for the work of many influential artists, including Victor Burgin, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Stan Douglas, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Wall, among others. Much recent cinema, meanwhile, is rich with references to contemporary photography. Video art has taken a photographic turn into pensive slowness; photography now has at its disposal the budgets and scale of cinema. This addition to Whitechapel's Documents of Contemporary Art series surveys the rich history of creative interaction between the moving and the still photograph, tracing their ever-changing relationship since early modernism.

    Still photography—cinema's ghostly parent—was eclipsed by the medium of film, but also set free. The rise of cinema obliged photography to make a virtue of its own stillness. Film, on the other hand, envied the simplicity, the lightness, and the precision of photography. Russian Constructivist filmmakers considered avant-garde cinema as a sequence of graphic "shots"; their Bauhaus, Constructivist and Futurist photographer contemporaries assembled photographs into a form of cinema on the page. In response to the rise of popular cinema, Henri Cartier-Bresson exalted the "decisive moment" of the still photograph. In the 1950s, reportage photography began to explore the possibility of snatching filmic fragments. Since the 1960s, conceptual and postconceptual artists have explored the narrative enigmas of the found film still. The Cinematic assembles key writings by artists and theorists from the 1920s on—including László Moholy-Nagy, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Victor Burgin, Jeff Wall, and Catherine David—documenting the photography-film dialogue that has enriched both media.

    • Paperback $24.95
  • Scene of the Crime

    Scene of the Crime

    Ralph Rugoff

    The book is not about works of art that simply document criminal acts. Rather, it is about a strain of art that presents the art object as a clue to absent meanings or actions.

    With contributions by Anthony Vidler and Peter Wollen Due in large part to the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, the crash of TWA Flight 800, and the O. J. Simpson trial, the once-arcane field of forensics has taken hold of the popular imagination. Scene of the Crime, which accompanies an exhibition of the same name organized by UCLA at the Armand Hammer Museum and supported by the Fellows of Contemporary Art, considers the art object as a kind of forensic evidence. Like the chalk outline of a murdered body, certain works of art invoke off-screen drama, prior trauma, or a history redolent of criminality, violation, or mysterious turbulence. From the evidentiary traces presented in these exhibits, the viewer is prompted to reconstruct behavior, motivations, and events. This forensic approach emphasizes the viewer's role as investigator while underscoring the cluelike and contingent status of the art object. The book is not about works of art that simply document criminal acts. Rather, it is about a strain of art that presents the art object as a clue to absent meanings or actions. From seminal works by Ed Ruscha, Bruce Naumann, Barry Le Va, and David Hammons to recent works by Paul McCarthy, Sharon Lockhart, James Luna, and Anthony Hernandez, this art declares that it is about more than meets the eye, raising the suspicion that a significant segment of contemporary art is concerned with forensic strategies and demands an investigative approach.

    Artists Terry Allen, D-L Alvarez, John Baldessari, Lewis Baltz, Uta Barth, Nayland Blake, Chris Burden, Vija Celmins, Bruce Conner, Eileen Cowin, John Divola, Sam Durant, Vincent Fecteau, Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose, Janet Fries, David Hammons, Richard Hawkins, Anthony Hernandez, Alexander Jason, Mike Kelley, Ed and Nancy Kienholz, Barry Le Va, Sharon Lockhart, James Luna, Monica Majoli, Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan, Paul McCarthy, Richard Misrach, Bruce Nauman, Robert Overby, Nancy Reese, Michelle Rollman, Ed Ruscha, Alexis Smith, George Stone, Jeffrey Vallance.

    • Paperback $26.00