In the late 1950s, experiments such as the cybernetic sculptures of Nicolas Schöffer or the programmatic music compositions of John Cage and Iannis Xenakis transposed systems theory from the sciences to the arts. By the 1960s, artists as diverse as Roy Ascott, Hans Haacke, Robert Morris, Sonia Sheridan, and Stephen Willats were breaking with accepted aesthetics to embrace open systems that emphasized organism over mechanism, dynamic processes of interaction among elements, and the observer’s role as an inextricable part of the system.
In Alien Agency, Chris Salter tells three stories of art in the making. Salter examines three works in which the materials of art—the “stuff of the world”—behave and perform in ways beyond the creator’s intent, becoming unknown, surprising, alien. Studying these works—all three deeply embroiled in and enabled by science and technology—allows him to focus on practice through the experiential and affective elements of creation.
Since the late 1970s, the Berlin-based contemporary artist Isa Genzken (b. 1948) has produced a body of work that is remarkable for its formal and material inventiveness. In her sculptural practice, Genzken has developed an expanded material repertoire that includes plaster, concrete, epoxy resin, and mass-produced objects that range from action figures to discarded pizza boxes.
Emerging from New York’s East Village art scene of the 1980s, the so-called neo-geo artists were a loosely associated group that included the painters Ashley Bickerton, Peter Halley, Sherrie Levine, Allan McCollum, Philip Taaffe, and Meyer Vaisman and the sculptors Jeff Koons and Haim Steinbach. Labeled neo-geo for the abstract geometric motifs that characterized only some of their work, the movement was also known variously as simulationism, neoconceptualism, neo-pop, neominimalism, and postabstraction.
When Marina Abramović Dies examines the extraordinary life and death-defying work of one of the most pioneering artists of her generation--and one who is still at the forefront of contemporary art today. This intimate, critical biography chronicles Abramović’s formative and until now undocumented years in Yugoslavia, and tells the story of her partnership with the German artist Ulay--one of the twentieth century’s great examples of the fusion of artistic and private life.
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.
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.
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.
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.