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Contemporary Art

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Influencing a generation of artists, musicians and theorists, Christian Marclay has explored the interplay between sound, audio cultures and art across a diversity of media: performance, sculpture, photography, collage, musical composition, film, video, and installation. Born in 1955, Marclay first became internationally known in the 1980s for sculptures and reassembled readymades generated from such evocative materials as fragmented vinyl records and album covers. His ambitious multi-screen installations Video Quartet (2002), Crossfire (2007), and The Clock (2010) inspire viewers to contemplate the complexities of time and narrative and the role of sound in experience and representation. Marclay has also collaborated musically with Shelley Hirsch, the Kronos Quartet, Zeena Parkins, Elliott Sharp, Sonic Youth and John Zorn, among many others.

Edited by curator and critic Jean-Pierre Criqui, this volume brings together the artist’s statements and conversations with Bice Curiger, Jan Estep, Russell Ferguson, Douglas Kahn, Frances Richard, Philip Sherburne, Michael Snow, and David Toop. Writings on all aspects of Marclay’s work follow, by Clément Chéroux, Dennis Cooper, Christoph Cox, Jean-Pierre Criqui, Noam M. Elcott, Russell Ferguson, Douglas Kahn, Rahma Khazam, Wayne Koestenbaum, Rosalind Krauss, Thomas Y. Levin, Tom Morton, Zadie Smith, David Toop, and Rob Young.

Edited by Lucy Steeds

This anthology provides a multivocal critique of the exhibition of contemporary art, bringing together the writings of artists, curators, and theorists. Collectively these diverse perspectives are united by the notion that although the focus for modernist discussion was individual works of art, it is the exhibition that is the prime cultural carrier of contemporaneity. The texts encompass exhibition design and form; exhibitions that are object-based, live, or discursive; projects that no longer rely on a physical space to be visited in person; artists’ responses to being curated and their reflections on the potential of acting curatorially. Set against the rise of the curator as an influential force in the contemporary art world, this volume underlines the crucial role of artists in questioning and shaping the phenomenon of the exhibition.

Artists surveyed include
Rasheed Araeen, Art & Language, AA Bronson, Daniel Buren, Graciela Carnevale, Andrea Fraser, Piero Gilardi, Group Material, Richard Hamilton, Huang Rui, Laboratoire Agit-Art, Louise Lawler, Glenn Ligon, Konrad Lueg, Matsuzawa Yutaka, Palle Nielsen, OHO (Marko Pogagnik), Hélio Oiticica, Philippe Parreno, Victor Pasmore, Raqs Media Collective, Gerhard Richter, Ruangrupa, Situationist International, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Andy Warhol, Katsuhiro Yamaguchi

Writers include
Judith Barry, Martin Beck, Charles Esche, Patricia Falguières, Elena Filipovic, Patrick Flores, Liam Gillick, Thelma Golden, Hou Hanru, Geeta Kapur, Pablo Lafuente, Lisette Lagnado, Lucy R. Lippard, Miguel A. López, Stuart Morgan, Chika Okeke-Agulu, Yvonne Rainer, Moira Roth, Seth Siegelaub, Wan-kyung Sung, El Hadji Sy, David Teh, Margarita Tupitsyn, Marion von Osten, Anton Vidokle, Peter Wollen

Edited by Amelia Jones

It has been argued, most notably in psychoanalytic and modernist art discourse, that the production of works of art is fundamentally driven by sexual desire. It has been further argued, particularly since the early 1970s, that sexual drives and desires also condition the distribution, display and reception of art.

This anthology traces how and why this identification of art with sexual expression or repression arose and how the terms have shifted in tandem with artistic and theoretical debates, from the era of the rights movements to the present. Among the subjects it discusses are abjection and the “informe,” or formless; pornography and the obscene; the performativity of gender and sexuality; and the role of sexuality in forging radical art or curatorial practices in response to such issues as state-sponsored repression and anti-feminism in the broader social realm.

Artists surveyed include
Vito Acconci, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Gerard Byrne, George Chakravarthi, Judy Chicago, Vaginal Davis, Wim Delvoye, Elmgreen & Dragset, Valie Export, Félix González-Torres, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Harmony Hammond, Claudette Johnson, Mary Kelly, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Legorreta, Paul McCarthy, Sarah Maple, Shirin Neshat, Lorraine O’Grady, Yoko Ono, Catherine Opie, Orlan, William Pope.L, Miriam Schapiro, Carolee Schneemann, Joan Semmel, Barbara Smith, Annie Sprinkle, Alina Szapocznikow, Del LaGrace Volcano, Hannah Wilke, David Wojnarowicz

Writers include
Malek Alloula, Norman O. Brown, Judith Butler, Douglas Crimp, Angela Dimitrakaki, Michel Foucault, Daniel Guérin, Eleanor Heartney, Jonathan D. Katz, Rosalind Krauss, Julia Kristeva, Paweł Leszkowicz, Herbert Marcuse, Kobena Mercer, Laura Mulvey, Lawrence Rinder, Jacqueline Rose, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Susan Sontag, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Stephen Whittle

Art Architecture and Activism

Outspoken, provocative, and prolific, the artist Ai Weiwei is an international phenomenon. In recent years, he has produced an astonishingly varied body of work while continuing his role as activist, provocateur, and conscience of a nation. Ai Weiwei is under “city arrest" in Beijing after an 81-day imprisonment; he is accused of tax evasion, but many suspect he is being punished for his political activism, including his exposure of shoddy school building practices that led to the deaths of thousands of children in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2009, he was badly beaten by the police during his earthquake investigations.

Ai Weiwei’s work reflects his multiple artistic identities as conceptual artist, architect, filmmaker, designer, curator, writer, and publisher. This monumental volume, developed in association with the artist, draws on the full breadth of Ai Weiwei’s architectural, installation, and activist work, with a focus on his use of space. It documents a huge range of international projects with drawings, plans, and photographs of finished work. It also includes excerpts from Ai Weiwei’s famous blog (shut down by Chinese authorities in 2009), in which he offers pithy and scathing commentary on the world around him. Essays by leading critics and art historians and interviews with the artist, drawing out his central concerns, accompany the 450 beautifully reproduced color illustrations of his work.

Although the pictogram-only narrative in Xu Bing’s Book from the Ground can be read by anyone, there is much more to the story of Xu Bing’s wordless book than can be gleaned from icons alone. This companion volume to Book from the Ground chronicles the entire project, mapping the history of Xu Bing’s novel creation from inspiration to exhibition to publication.

In the 1980s, Xu Bing created Book from the Sky. Using garbled and nonsensical faux-Chinese characters, this installation expressed Xu’s doubts about written language and provoked questions about the Chinese language. Thirty years later, with Book from the Ground, the artist expresses his hope for a single, universally understood language. Inspired by airport signs that communicate instantaneously through images--directing a temporary community of modern nomads where to eat, shop, sit, and find a bathroom--Xu began to collect images, icons, and logos from which he could construct a story. This book describes Xu’s research, showing notebook pages and bulletin boards full of clipped-out images; offers commentary by the artist and discussions of reading, alphabets and languages; documents, with text and photographs, exhibitions and installations connected to the work (including a Book from the Ground pop-up concept store); provides a list of works; describes Xu’s “icon lab"; and “translates" Xu’s pictographic narrative into English.

from point to point

Twenty years ago I made Book from the Sky, a book of illegible Chinese characters that no one could read. Now I have created Book from the Ground, a book that anyone can read.
--Xu Bing

Following his classic work Book from the Sky, the Chinese artist Xu Bing presents a new graphic novel—one composed entirely of symbols and icons that are universally understood. Xu Bing spent seven years gathering materials, experimenting, revising, and arranging thousands of pictograms to construct the narrative of Book from the Ground. The result is a readable story without words, an account of twenty-four hours in the life of “Mr. Black," a typical urban white-collar worker.

Our protagonist’s day begins with wake-up calls from a nearby bird and his bedside alarm clock; it continues through tooth-brushing, coffee-making, TV-watching, and cat-feeding. He commutes to his job on the subway, works in his office, ponders various fast-food options for lunch, waits in line for the bathroom, daydreams, sends flowers, socializes after work, goes home, kills a mosquito, goes to bed, sleeps, and gets up the next morning to do it all over again. His day is recounted with meticulous and intimate detail, and reads like a postmodern, post-textual riff on James Joyce’s account of Bloom’s peregrinations in Ulysses. But Xu Bing’s narrative, using an exclusively visual language, could be published anywhere, without translation or explication; anyone with experience in contemporary life--anyone who has internalized the icons and logos of modernity, from smiley faces to transit maps to menus--can understand it.

Being in the World

This book offers the first career retrospective of Brian Weil (1954–1996), an artist whose photographs pushed viewers into a deeply unsteadying engagement with insular communities and subcultures. A younger contemporary of such participant-observer photographers as Larry Clark and Nan Goldin, Weil took photographs that foreground the complex relationships between photographer and subject, and between photograph and viewer.

Weil was a member of ACT UP and the founder of New York City’s first needle exchange, and his photographs became inextricably tied to his activist practice. His late work, an extensive series of portraits whose subjects bear witness to the emerging AIDS pandemic, is included here, along with selections from several earlier and concurrent projects: Sex (underground sex and bondage participants), Miami Crime (homicide scenes investigated by the Miami Police Department), Hasidim (populations of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and the Catskills), and an extensive video project with members of nascent transgender support groups.

This book commemorates a 2013 exhibition of Brian Weil’s work at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania and includes in-depth essays on Weil by Stamatina Gregory and Jennifer Burris, an interiew with the artist by Claudia Gould, and reprints of archival edited notes discussing crime and photographic evidence based on a series of interviews conducted by Sylvère Lotringer with filmmaker George Diaz in the 1980s.

Edited by Antony Hudek

Artists increasingly refer to “post-object-based" work while theorists engage with material artifacts in culture. A focus on “object-based" learning treats objects as vectors for dialogue across disciplines. Virtual imaging enables the object to be abstracted or circumvented, while immaterial forms of labor challenge materialist theories. This anthology surveys such reappraisals of what constitutes the “objectness" of production, with art as its focus.

Among the topics it examines are the relation of the object to subjectivity; distinctions between objects and things; the significance of the object’s transition from inert mass to tool or artifact; and the meanings of the everyday in the found object, repetition in the replicated or multiple object, loss in the absent object, and abjection in the formless or degraded object. It also explores artistic positions that are anti-object; theories of the experimental, liminal or mental object; and the role of objects in performance. The object becomes a prism through which to reread contemporary art and better understand its recent past.

Artists surveyed include
Georges Adéagbo, Art in Ruins, Iain Baxter, Louise Bourgeois, Pavel Büchler, Lygia Clark, Claude Closky, Brian Collier, Jimmie Durham, Fischli & Weiss, Luca Frei, Meschac Gaba, Isa Genzken, Gruppe Geflecht, Eva Hesse, Mike Kelley, John Latham, Antje Majewski, Gustav Metzger, Cady Noland, Gabriel Orozco, Adrian Piper, Falke Pisano, Eva Rothschild, Aura Satz, Kenneth Snelson, Hito Steyerl, Josef Strau, Alina Szapocznikow, Jo?lle Tuerlinckx, Erwin Wurm

Writers include
Homi K. Bhabha, Jack Burnham, Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Lynne Cooke, Gillo Dorfles, Jean Fisher, Ferreira Gullar, Charles Harrison, Paulo Herkenhoff, Julia Kristeva, Bruno Latour, Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger, Jean-Fran?ois Lyotard, Lev Manovich, Ursula Meyer, Bruno Munari, Georges Perec, Hans-J?rg Rheinberger, Dieter Roelstraete, Howard Singerman, Nancy Spector, Marcus Steinweg, Anne Wagner, Gérard Wajcman, Slavoj ?i?ek

The dawn of the electronic media age in the 1960s began a cultural shift from the modernist grid and its determination of projection and representation to the fluid structures and circuits of the network, presenting art with new challenges and possibilities. This anthology considers art at the center of network theory, from the 1960s to the present.

Artists have used the “space of flows" as a basis for creating utopian scenarios, absurd yet functional propositions or holistic planetary visions. Others have explored the economies of reciprocity and the ethics of generosity, in works that address changed conditions of codependence and new sites of social negotiation. The “infra-power" of the network has been a departure point for self-organized counterculture and the creation of new types of agency. And a “poetics of connectivity" runs through a diverse range of work that addresses the social and material complexity of networks through physical structures and ambient installation, the mapping of the Internet, or the development of robots and software that take on the functions of artist or curator.

Artists surveyed include
Joseph Beuys, Ursula Biemann, Heath Bunting, Critical Art Ensemble, Fernand Deligny, Peter Fend, Gego, Jobim Jochimsen, Koncern, Christine Kozlov, Pia Lindman, Mark Lombardi, Diana McCarty, Marta Minujín, Aleksandra Mir, Tanja Ostojic, Ola Pehrson, Walid Raad, Artüras Raila, Hito Steyerl, Tomaso Tozzi, Suzanne Treister, Ultra Red, Wolf Vostell, Stephen Willats

Writers include
Jane Bennett, Hakim Bey, Luc Boltanski, Manuel Castells, ève Chiapello, Guy Debord, Umberto Eco, Okwui Enwezor, Michael Hardt, Bruno Latour, Marshall McLuhan, Marcel Mauss, Reza Negarestani, Antonio Negri, Sadie Plant, Lane Relyea, Craig Saper, Saskia Sassen, Pit Schultz, Steven Shaviro, Tiziana Terranova, Paolo Virno

The Work of Michael Asher

Michael Asher doesn’t make typical installations. Instead, he extracts his art from the institutions in which it is shown, culling it from collections, histories, or museums’ own walls. Since the late 1960s, Asher has been creating situations that have not only taught us about the conditions and contexts of contemporary art, but have worked to define it.

In Situation Aesthetics, Kirsi Peltomäki examines Asher’s practice by analyzing the social situations that the artist constructs in his work for viewers, participants, and institutional representatives (including gallery directors, curators, and other museum staff members). Drawing on art criticism, the reports of viewers and participants in Asher’s projects, and the artist’s own archives, Peltomäki offers a comprehensive account of Asher’s work over the past four decades. Because of the intensely site-specific nature of this work, as well as the artist’s refusal to reconstruct past works or mount retrospectives, many of the projects Peltomäki discusses are described here for the first time.

By emphasizing the social and psychological sites of art rather than the production of autonomous art objects, Peltomäki argues, Asher constructs experientially complex situations that profoundly affect those who encounter them, bringing about both personal and institutional transformation.

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