Petra Lange-Berndt

Petra Lange-Berndt is Chair of Modern and Contemporary art in the Art History Department at the University of Hamburg and a leading researcher in the field of material studies in art history. She is coeditor, with Dietmar Rübel, of Sigmar Polke: We Petty Bourgeois! Contemporaries and Comrades, the 1970s.

  • Materiality

    Materiality

    Petra Lange-Berndt

    Essays consider recent artistic and critical approaches to materiality, focusing on the moments when materials become willful actors and agents within artistic processes.

    Materiality has reappeared as a highly contested topic in recent art. Modernist criticism tended to privilege form over matter—considering material as the essentialized basis of medium specificity—and technically based approaches in art history reinforced connoisseurship through the science of artistic materials. But in order to engage critically with the meaning, for example, of hair in David Hammons's installations, milk in the work of Dieter Roth, or latex in the sculptures of Eva Hesse, we need a very different set of methodological tools.

    This anthology focuses on the moments when materials become willful actors and agents within artistic processes, entangling their audience in a web of connections. It investigates the role of materiality in art that attempts to expand notions of time, space, process, or participation. And it looks at the ways in which materials obstruct, disrupt, or interfere with social norms, emerging as impure formations and messy, unstable substances. It reexamines the notion of “dematerialization”; addresses materialist critiques of artistic production; surveys relationships between matter and bodies, from the hierarchies of gender to the abject and phobic; explores the vitality of substances; and addresses the concepts of intermateriality and transmateriality emerging in the hybrid zones of digital experimentation.

    Artists surveyed include Georges Adéagbo, Carl Andre, Janine Antoni, Amy Balkin, Artur Barrio, Helen Chadwick, Mel Chin, Mark Dion, Jimmie Durham, Tessa Farmer, Chohreh Feyzdjou, Romuald Hazoumè, Pierre Huyghe, Ilya Kabakov, Mike Kelley, Anthony McCall, Teresa Margolles, Robert Morris, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Tino Sehgal, Shozo Shimamoto, Santiago Sierra, Robert Smithson, Simon Starling, Paul Thek, Paul Vanouse, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Kara Walker

    Writers include Joseph D. Amato, Karen Barad, Judith Butler, Elizabeth Grosz, Georges Didi-Huberman, Natasha Eaton, Jens Hauser, Dieter Hoffmann-Axthelm, Tim Ingold, Wolfgang Kemp, Julia Kristeva, Esther Leslie, Jean-François Lyotard, Dietmar Rübel, Monika Wagner, Gillian Whiteley

    • Paperback $24.95
  • A World of Wild Doubt

    A World of Wild Doubt

    Dorothee Böhm, Petra Lange-Berndt, and Dietmar Rübel

    The starting point of this exhibition and subsequent publication is the novel The Man Who Was Thursday by British poet G. K. Chesterton from 1908. This mysterious crime story about a seven-headed anarchist council, which consists of spies from the London secret police, addresses a world in a permanent state of emergency. Yet in the end, the real danger emanates from artists and intellectuals. The text weaves an unsettling web out of surveillance and anxieties, takes unexpected metaphysical turns and ends in utter chaos. Nothing less than the question of what constitutes genuine anarchy is negotiated. Are the policemen who defend law and order the real anarchists? Is the law necessarily based on the act of its transgression?

    The atmospheres conjured up in the book, ranging from discomfort to paranoia, resonate in many ways with the present. In a time when the German intelligence service enables assassinations by neo-Nazis, or criminal banksters loot globalized financial markets, political-philosophical ambiguity, as described by Chesterton with its causes and consequences, is as red hot as the question of whether a system can be reformed from within or has to be detonated by a coming insurrection. Thus, the exhibition and book fuse the skepticism of classical modernity toward absolute freedom with contemporary attitudes. Additionally, the curators and editors have formulated a criticism of the dominance of neoliberal and plutocratic models of society. But The Man Who Was Thursday is also a defense of nonsense. And this denial of logic is taken very seriously, considering that the novel's subtitle reads: A Nightmare. This pessimistic, anti-modernist tenor is countered by the liberating forces of artistic practices without being escapist.

    The catalogue is published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at Kunstverein Hamburg, January 26–April 14, 2013.

    With works by Thomas Bechinger, Robert Crumb, Jeremy Deller, James Ensor, Tessa Farmer, Andreas Fischer, Gilbert & George, Rodney Graham, Mike Kelley, Joachim Koester, Mark Lombardi, Cildo Meireles, Olaf Metzel, Wilhelm Mundt, Bruce Nauman, Tony Oursler, Gregor Schneider, Marten Schech, Max Schulze, Andreas Slominski, Rolf Stieger, Suzanne Treister, Félix Vallotton, Lawrence Weiner, Stephen Willats, et al.

    Copublished with Kunstverein Hamburg; in collaboration with Michael Liebelt & The London Thursday Institute

    Contributors Dorothee Böhm, Joachim Koester, Petra Lange-Berndt, Dietmar Rübel, Suzanne Treister, Florian Waldvogel, Slavoj Žižek

    • Paperback $28.00