Sven Lütticken

Sven Lütticken, an art historian and critic, teaches at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. He is the author of Cultural Revolution: Aesthetic Practice after Autonomy (Sternberg Press) and other books.

  • Objections, Volume 1

    Forms of Abstraction

    Sven Lütticken

    The object as obstacle or obstruction, and of the artwork as an aesthetic and political objection.

    Forms of Abstraction engages with abstraction not as a formal option in art, or as an airy theoretical speculation, but as an operational force that has redesigned our world, and continues to do so. What Alfred Sohn-Rethel has called the “real abstraction” of value-form molds the world, and does so in conjunction with the real abstractions of the law and of technoscience. In this first volume, Objections, Sven Lütticken takes his cue from the Latin root of object, obiectum—which refers to something put before the subject, something thrown in one's way—pursuing this sense of the object as obstacle or obstruction, and of the artwork as an aesthetic and political objection. Lütticken sees artists engaging with materiality and value, with subatomic particles and radiation as well as with the objectification of human and nonhuman organisms. Along the way, we encounter theoretical objects such as the fetish, the plaster cast, the patented bacteria, the buried radioactive container, and the contemporary artwork itself. Lütticken analyzes contemporary art as a set of aesthetic practices revolving around problematic and questionable objects that can act as productive objections.

    Among the artists discussed are Agency, Kader Attia, Stanley Brouwn, Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki, Andrea Fraser, Hans Haacke, Carsten Höller and Rosemarie Trockel, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Sean Snyder, and Jonas Staal.

    • Paperback $24.95
  • Deserting from the Culture Wars

    Deserting from the Culture Wars

    Maria Hlavajova and Sven Lütticken

    Artists and writers consider a tactical desertion from the “culture wars”—a refusal to be distracted, an embrace of the emancipatory understanding of culture.

    Deserting from the Culture Wars reflects upon and intervenes in our current moment of ever-more polarizing ideological combat, often seen as the return of the “culture wars.” How are these culture wars defined and waged? Engaging in a theater of war that has been delineated by the enemy is a shortcut to defeat. Getting out of the reactive mode that produces little but a series of Pavlovian responses, this book proposes a tactical desertion from the culture wars as they are being waged today—a refusal to play the other side's war games, an unwillingness to be distracted.

    The volunteer troops in the culture wars are often given marching orders by professional masters of propaganda. What, then, might artists and others who are professionally engaged with images and imaginaries, with narratives and assemblies, have to contribute to the collective discovery of different modes of living culture? Far from limiting the performance of culture to a one-sided speech act, an emancipatory understanding of culture needs to conceive of speech as embodied and intersubjective—as a collective performance.

    Contributors

    Bini Adamczak, Kader Attia, Rose Hammer, Tom Holert, Charl Landvreugd and Sebastian Olma, Geert Lovink and Esmee Schoutens, Sven Lütticken, Diana McCarty, Dan McQuillan, Johannes Paul Raether, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Jonas Staal

    • Paperback $19.95 £15.99
  • Futurity Report

    Futurity Report

    Eric C. H. de Bruyn and Sven Lütticken

    Theorists, historians, and artists address the precarious futurity of the notion of the future itself.

    Not long ago, a melancholic left and a manic neoliberalism seemed to arrive at an awkward consensus: the foreclosure of futurity. Whereas the former mourned the failure of its utopian project, the latter celebrated the triumph of a global marketplace. The radical hope of realizing a singularly different, more equitable future was displaced by a belief that the future had already come to pass, limiting post-historical society to an uneventful life of endless accumulation. Today, amidst an abundance of neofuturisms, posthumanisms, futurologies, speculative philosophies, and accelerationist scenarios, there is as well an expanding awareness of a looming planetary catastrophe driven by the extractionist logic of capitalism. Despite this return to the future, the temporal horizon of our present moment is perhaps more aptly characterized by the “shrinking future” of just-in-time production, risk management, high-frequency trading, and the futures market. In Futurity Report, theorists, historians, and artists address the precarious futurity of the notion of the future itself.

    Contributors

    McKenzie Wark, China Miéville, Kerstin Stakemeier, Diedrich Diederichsen, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Marina Vishmidt, Johannes Paul Raether, Felicity D. Scott, Silvia Maglioni, Graeme Thomson, Doreen Mende, Pedro Neves Marques, Achille Mbembe, Kodwo Eshun, Haytham El-Wardany, T. J. Demos, Ana Teixeira Pinto

    • Paperback $29.95
  • Cultural Revolution

    Cultural Revolution

    Aesthetic Practice after Autonomy

    Sven Lütticken

    In this collection of essays, art historian and critic Sven Lütticken focuses on aesthetic practice in a rapidly expanding cultural sphere. He analyzes its transformation by the capitalist cultural revolution, whose reshaping of art's autonomy has wrought a field of afters and posts. In a present moment teeming with erosions—where even history and the human are called into question—Cultural Revolution: Aesthetic Practice after Autonomy reconsiders these changing values, for relegating such notions safely to the past betrays their possibilities for potential today.

    Lütticken discusses practices that range from Black Mask to Subversive Aktion, from Krautonomy to Occupy, from the Wet Dream Film Festival in the early 1970s to Jonas Staal's recently established New World Academy. Within these pages Scarlett Johansson meets Paul Chan, Walid Raad, and Hito Steyerl, and Dr. Zira from Planet of the Apes mingles with the likes of Paul Lafargue and Alexandre Kojève.

    • Paperback $24.95
  • History in Motion

    History in Motion

    Time in the Age of the Moving Image

    Sven Lütticken

    The moving image has irrevocably redefined our experience and construction of history. In the contemporary economy of time, history has become an image in motion, a series of events animated and performed through various media. Analyzing a variety of films, video pieces, and performances, Sven Lütticken evaluates the impact that our changing experience of time has had on the actualization of history in the present. In the process, he considers the role of shock and suspense, of play and games, the rise and ubiquity of television, transformed notions of leisure and labor time, and a new “natural history” marked by climate change.

    The interplay between the time of daily life and historical time end between live event and mediatization is at the core of History in Motion. In this context, Lütticken questions the relation between the representations or restagings of the past and the events of a history that is currently in progress. This history in motion constitutes a fractured present in which possible futures are implicit.

    • Paperback $26.00
  • Idols of the Market

    Idols of the Market

    Modern Iconoclasm and the Fundamentalist Spectacle

    Sven Lütticken

    Idols of the Market: Modern Iconoclasm and the Fundamentalist Spectacle reexamines the legacies of modern theoretical and artistic iconoclasm in the context of the current religious-political image wars.

    In a letter written shortly after Adorno's death, in which he attempted to explain why his friend had not been buried according to Jewish rites, Max Horkheimer claimed that critical theory was based on the Second Commandment – the ban on representations of God or, in more fundamentalist interpretations, of representations of all living beings. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the monotheistic concept of idolatry had been gradually replaced by modern conceptions of myth and mythology; later it was integrated in critical conceptions of commodity fetishism, ideology, the spectacle, or Adorno and Horkheimer's culture industry. This secularization of the concept of idolatry is now increasingly being revoked; the critique of the spectacle is seemingly "resacralized" by various religious factions.

    The fundamentalists' apparent fetishization of their religion's aboriginal essence is rather questionable; their fight of the idolatrous spectacle takes place within this spectacle and fortifies it – all the while reducing the space for critique and dissent. This book examines both the afterlife of religious elements in modern culture and possible responses to the current religious reappropriation of this critique of modern capitalist culture by both Christian fundamentalists and radical Islamists. Rather than dismissing monotheistic idolatry critique, the aim is to once more set free its (self-) critical potential, in opposition to those “Enlightenment fundamentalists” who save the status quo by creating a manicheist opposition between the secular West and the pure otherness of Islam.

    • Paperback $24.95

Contributor

  • 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 $9.75 £7.99
  • Appropriation

    Appropriation

    David Evans

    Important documents and appraisals of appropriation art from Duchamp's readymades to feminist and postcolonial critique.

    Scavenging, replicating, or remixing, many influential artists today reinvent a legacy of “stealing” images and forms from other makers. Among the diverse, often contestatory strategies included under the heading “appropriation” are the readymade, détournement, pastiche, rephotography, recombination, simulation and parody. Although appropropriation is often associated with the 1980s practice of such artists as Peter Halley, Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman, as well as the critical discourse of postmodernism and the simulacral theory of Jean Baudrillard, appropriation's significance for art is not limited by that cultural and political moment. In an expanded art-historical frame, this book recontextualizes avant-garde photomontage, the Duchampian readymade, and the Pop image among such alternative precursors as Francis Picabia, Bertolt Brecht, Guy Debord, Akasegawa Genpei, Dan Graham, Cildo Meireles, and Martha Rosler. In the recent work of many artists, including Mike Kelley, Glenn Ligon, Pierre Huyghe, and Aleksandra Mir, among others, appropriation is central to their critique of the contemporary world and vision for alternative futures

    Artists surveyed include Akasegawa Genpei, Santiago Álvarez, Art Workers Coalition, Ross Bleckner, Marcel Broodthaers, Victor Burgin, Maurizio Cattelan, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Douglas Gordon, Johan Grimonprez, Peter Halley, Hank Herron, Pierre Huyghe, Mike Kelley, Idris Khan, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Glenn Ligon, Steve McQueen, Alexandra Mir, Keith Piper, Richard Prince, Jorma Puranen, Cindy Sherman, John Stezaker, Retort, Martha Rosler, Philip Taaffe.

    Writers include Malek Alloula, Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Nicolas Bourriaud, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Johanna Burton, Douglas Crimp, Thomas Crow, Guy Debord, Georges Didi-Huberman, Marcel Duchamp, Okwui Enwezor, Jean-Luc Godard, Isabelle Graw, Boris Groys, Raoul Hausmann, Sven Lütticken, Cildo Meireles, Kobena Mercer, Slobodan Mijuskovic, Laura Mulvey, Jo Spence, Elisabeth Sussman, Lisa Tickner, Reiko Tomii, Andy Warhol.

    • Paperback $24.95