What has become of the so-called West after the Cold War? Why hasn’t the West simply become “former,” as has its supposed counterpart, the “former East”? In this book, artists, thinkers, and activists explore the repercussions of the political, cultural, and economic events of 1989 on both art and the contemporary. The culmination of an eight-year curatorial research experiment, Former West imagines a world beyond our immediate condition.
The artist Sigmar Polke (1941–2010) worked across a broad range of media—including photography, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and film—and in styles that varied from abstract expressionism to Pop. This volume in Afterall’s One Work series offers an illustrated exploration of Freundinnen (Girlfriends 1965/66), one of Polke’s important early paintings. Taken from a found image of two young women, and using the raster dots also found in mass media reproductions, Girlfriends offers a statement about the use and social function of images.
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.
Since the 1970s, the South African artist William Kentridge has charted the turbulent terrain of his homeland in both personal and political terms. With erudition, absurdist humor, and an underlying hope in humankind, Kentridge’s artwork has examined apartheid, humanitarian atrocities, aging, and the ambiguities of growing up white and Jewish in South Africa. This October Files volume brings together critical essays and interviews that explore Kentridge’s work and shed light on the unique working processes behind his drawings, prints, stop-animation films, and theater works.
Agnes Martin’s Night Sea (1963) is a large canvas of hand-drawn rectangular grids painted in luminous blue and gold. In this illustrated study, Suzanne Hudson presents the painting as the work of an artist who was also a thinker, poet, and writer for whom self-presentation was a necessary part of making her works public. With Night Sea, Hudson argues, Martin (1912–2004) created a shimmering realization of control and loss that stands alone within her suite of classic grid paintings as an exemplary and exceptional achievement.
Hans Haacke’s art articulates the interdependence of multiple elements. An artwork is not merely an object but is also its context—the economic, social, and political conditions of the art world and the world at large.
When Mary Kelly’s best-known work, Post-Partum Document (1973–1979), was shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in 1976, it caused a sensation--an unexpected response to an intellectually demanding and aesthetically restrained installation of conceptual art. The reception signaled resistance to the work's interrogation of feminine identity and the cultural mythologizing of motherhood.
This anthology provides the first art-historical reassessment of information-based art in relation to data structures and exhibition curation. It examines such landmark exhibitions as “Information” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970, and the equally influential “Les Immatériaux,” initiated by the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 1984. It reexamines work by artists of the 1960s to early 1980s, from Les Levine and N. E. Thing Co. to General Idea and Jenny Holzer, whose prescient grasp of information’s significance resonates today.
Animals have become the focus of much recent art, informing numerous works and projects featured at major exhibitions including dOCUMENTA (13) (2013), the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014), and the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Contemporary art has emerged as a privileged terrain for exploring interspecies relationships, providing the conditions for diverse disciplines and theoretical positions to engage with animal behavior and consciousness.