Sven Spieker

Sven Spieker is Professor of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and editor of ARTmargins. His books include The Big Archive: Art from Bureaucracy (MIT Press).

  • Destruction

    Destruction

    Sven Spieker

    Essays explore contemporary artists' engagement with destruction, and how it has disrupted the perceived integrity of built structures and institutions.

    The effects and meanings of destruction are central to the work of many of our most influential artists. Since the early 1960s, artists have employed destruction to creative ends. Here destruction changes from a negative state or passive condition to a highly productive category. The destructive subversion of media imagery aims to release us from its controlling effects. The self-destructing artwork extinguishes art's fixity as arrested form and ushers in the ephemeral and contingent "open work."

    This anthology explores artworks that convey the threat of destruction an how they have disrupted the perceived integrity of built structures and institutions. Artistic acts of iconoclasm or risk to the self have raised consciousness of authoritarian oppression. More understated works explore the theme of destruction in armed conflict, media violence, and threats to the environment. These text make up the first collection to be focused systematically on destruction in modern and contemporary art.

    Artists surveyed include Ai Weiwei, John Baldessari, Monica Bonvicini, Alexander Brener, Stuart Brisley, Douglas Gordon, Huang Yong Ping, Enrique Jezik, Milan Knizak, Paul McCarthy, Piero Manzoni, Gordon Matta-Clark, Gustav Metzger, Otto Mühl, Yoko Ono, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Petr Pavlensky, William Pope.L, Walid Raad, Arnulf Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, Carolee Schneemann, Song Dong, Jean Tinguely, Wolf Vostell

    Writers include Alain Badiou, Walter Benjamin, Horst Bredekamp, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Medina Cuauthémoc, Dario Gamboni, Richard Galpin, Caleb Kelly, Bruno Latour, Sven Lütticken, Antonio Negri, Sophie O'Brien, Kristine Stiles, Jennifer Walden

    • Paperback $24.95
  • The Big Archive

    The Big Archive

    Art From Bureaucracy

    Sven Spieker

    The archive as a crucible of twentieth-century modernism and key for understanding contemporary art.

    The typewriter, the card index, and the filing cabinet: these are technologies and modalities of the archive. To the bureaucrat, archives contain little more than garbage, paperwork no longer needed; to the historian, on the other hand, the archive's content stands as a quasi-objective correlative of the “living” past. Twentieth-century art made use of the archive in a variety of ways—from what Spieker calls Marcel Duchamp's “anemic archive” of readymades and El Lissitzky's Demonstration Rooms to the compilations of photographs made by such postwar artists as Susan Hiller and Gerhard Richter. In The Big Archive, Sven Spieker investigates the archive—as both bureaucratic institution and index of evolving attitudes toward contingent time in science and art—and finds it to be a crucible of twentieth-century modernism.

    Dadaists, constructivists, and Surrealists favored discontinuous, nonlinear archives that resisted hermeneutic reading and ordered presentation. Spieker argues that the use of archives by such contemporary artists as Hiller, Richter, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Walid Raad, and Boris Mikhailov responds to and continues this attack on the nineteenth-century archive and its objectification of the historical process.

    Spieker considers archivally driven art in relation to changing media technologies—the typewriter, the telephone, the telegraph, film. And he connects the archive to a particularly modern visuality, showing that the avant-garde used the archive as something of a laboratory for experimental inquiries into the nature of vision and its relation to time. The Big Archive offers us the first critical monograph on an overarching motif in twentieth-century art.

    • Hardcover $33.95 £28.00
    • Paperback $24.95 £20.00