Part-text, part-sculpture, part-architecture, part-junk heap, Thomas Hirschhorn’s often monumental but precarious works offer a commentary on the spectacle of late-capitalist consumerism and the global proliferation of commodities. Made from ephemeral materials—cardboard, foil, plastic bags, and packing tape—that the artist describes as “universal, economic, inclusive, and [without] any plus-value,” these works also engage issues of justice, power, and moral responsibility.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.