Lecturas recomendables


Armen Avanessian & Luke Skrewobski (eds.), Aesthetics and Contemporary Art, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2011.

Texts by Éric Alliez, Armen Avanessian, Art & Language, Luis Camnitzer, Sebastian Egenhofer, Dorothea von Hantelmann, Brian Holmes, Pamela M. Lee, Stewart Martin, Christoph Menke, Peter Osborne, John Rajchman, Juliane Rebentisch.

Torn between a revival of aesthetics and the persistence of conceptualism, critical writing about contemporary art has once again come to focus on differing views of its aesthetic dimension. The context and character of these debates has, however, shifted markedly since the 1960s, with changes in art practices, institutions, political contexts, and theoretical paradigms—and in particular, with the global extension of the Western art world since 1989. This inter- and transdisciplinary collection of essays by philosophers, artists, critics, and art historians, reconsiders the place of the aesthetic in contemporary art, with reference to four main themes: aesthetics as “sensate thinking”; the dissolution of artistic limits; post-autonomous practices; and exhibition-values in a global artworld.

The essays originate in talks given on the occasion of an international conference on “Aesthetics and Contemporary Art” (2008), organized by the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Middlesex University, London, in cooperation with the Collaborative Research Centre “Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artistic Limits” (SfB 626), Free University Berlin.

Alexander G.- Düttmann, Teilnahme. Bewusstsein des Scheins, Konstanz University Press, 2011.

An Kunst teilnehmen heißt immer, sich der Kunst als Kunst bewusst zu sein und sich zugleich von ihrem Schein einnehmen zu lassen.

Alexander García Düttmanns Buch ist der erste systematische Versuch, die Teilnahme an Kunst zu erklären – und dadurch ein neues Licht auf die Teilnahme an Politik zu werfen.

Kaum ein Begriff hat Kunst und Ästhetik in den vergangenen Jahrzehnten so bestimmt wie der der Teilnahme, vor allem, wenn ein politischer Anspruch angemeldet wurde. Was kann mit der Teilnahme an Kunst gemeint sein? Die Antwort, die Düttmann auf diese Frage gibt, lautet: Teilnahme an Kunst ist ein Bewusstsein des Scheins. Doch wie kann der Schein zu Bewusstsein kommen, ohne dabei aufzuhören, als Schein zu wirken?

Der Autor zeigt, dass dieses Problem die Geschichte der Ästhetik beherrscht hat, ob es sich um die Tradition handelt, die von Kant bis Adorno reicht, oder in jüngerer Zeit um die Ansätze der analytischen Ästhetik. Das Verhältnis zwischen Schein und Bewusstsein bleibt dabei ein spannungsgeladenes, so sehr sich die Philosophen auch darum bemüht haben, diese Spannung aufzulösen, Bewusstsein und Schein miteinander zu versöhnen. Im Anschluss an Kant skizziert Düttmann einen Begriff der Politik, der ebenfalls von einer solchen Spannung durchzogen wird, zwischen Nüchternheit und Affekt, zwischen einem Bewusstsein der Ordnung, die Sicherung und Erhaltung sucht, und einem revolutionären Impuls, der aktiv über sie hinaustreibt.

»Jeder Mensch will gleichzeitig teilnehmen und in Ruhe gelassen werden. Und da das eigentlich nicht möglich ist, beides, ist man immer in einem Konflikt.« (Thomas Bernhard).

Hal Foster, The First Pop Age, Princeton University Press, 2012.

Who branded painting in the Pop age more brazenly than Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, and Ed Ruscha? And who probed the Pop revolution in image and identity more intensely than they? In The First Pop Age, leading critic and historian Hal Foster presents an exciting new interpretation of Pop art through the work of these Pop Five.

Beautifully illustrated in color throughout, the book reveals how these seminal artists hold on to old forms of art while drawing on new subjects of media; how they strike an ambiguous attitude toward both high art and mass culture; and how they suggest that a heightened confusion between images and people is definitive of Pop culture at large.

As The First Pop Age looks back to the early years of Pop art, it also raises important questions about the present: What has changed in the look of screened and scanned images today? Is our media environment qualitatively different from that described by Warhol and company? Have we moved beyond the Pop age, or do we live in its aftermath?

A masterful account of one of the most important periods of twentieth-century art, this is a book that also sheds new light on our complex relationship to images today.

Jacques Rancière, Aisthesis. Scènes du régime esthètique de l’art, París: Galiée, 2011.

Du Torse du Belvédère analysé par Winckelmann au décor des métayers de l’Alabama décrit par James Agee, en passant par une visite de Hegel au musée, une conférence d’Emerson à Boston, une soirée de Mallarmé aux Folies-Bergère, une exposition à Paris ou New York, une mise en scène à Moscou ou la construction d’une usine à Berlin, Jacques Rancière examine une quinzaine d’événements ou de moments, célèbres ou obscurs, où l’on se demande ce qui fait l’art et ce qu’il fait.

À travers ces épisodes on voit un régime de perception et d’interprétation de l’art se constituer et se transformer  en effaçant les spécificités des arts et les frontières qui les séparaient de l’expérience ordinaire. On apprend comment une statue mutilée peut devenir une oeuvre parfaite, une image d’enfants pouilleux une représentation de l’idéal, une culbute de clowns l’envol dans le ciel poétique, un meuble un temple, un escalier un personnage, une salopette rapiécée un habit de prince, les circonvolutions d’un voile une cosmogonie, et un montage accéléré de gestes la réalité sensible du communisme : une histoire de la modernité artistique bien éloignée du dogme moderniste.

John Roberts, The Necessity of Errors, Londres: Verso, 2011

A dangerous thesis: truth and error are interdependent; claims to truth can be made only in the light of previous error. In The Necessity of Errors, John Roberts explores how, up to Hegel, emphasis was placed on error as something that dissolves truth and needs to be eradicated. Drawing on the fragmented corpus of writing on error, from Locke to Luxemburg, Adorno to Vaneigem, and covering five key areas from philosophy to political praxis, this wide-ranging account explores how we learn from error, under what conditions, and with what means. Errors, Roberts finds, are productive, but not in any uniform sense or under all circumstances - a theory of errors needs a dialectics of error.

Aiweiwei, Ai Weiwei Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009 (Writing Art), MIT Press, 2011.

In 2006, even though he could barely type, China's most famous artist started blogging. For more than three years, Ai Weiwei turned out a steady stream of scathing social commentary, criticism of government policy, thoughts on art and architecture, and autobiographical writings. He wrote about the Sichuan earthquake (and posted a list of the schoolchildren who died because of the government’s "tofu-dregs engineering"), reminisced about Andy Warhol and the East Village art scene, described the irony of being investigated for "fraud" by the Ministry of Public Security, made a modest proposal for tax collection. Then, on June 1, 2009, Chinese authorities shut down the blog. This book offers a collection of Ai's online writings translated into English--the most complete, public documentation of the original Chinese blog available in any language.

The New York Times has called Ai "a figure of Warholian celebrity." He is a leading figure on the international art scene, a regular in museums and biennials, but in China he is a manifold and controversial presence: artist, architect, curator, social critic, justice-seeker. He was a consultant on the design of the famous "Bird’s Nest" stadium but called for an Olympic boycott; he received a Chinese Contemporary Art "lifetime achievement award" in 2008 but was beaten by the police in connection with his "citizen investigation" of earthquake casualties in 2009. Ai Weiwei's Blogdocuments Ai's passion, his genius, his hubris, his righteous anger, and his vision for China.

Claire Bishop et al., Thomas Hirschhorn: Establishing a Critical Corpus, JRP Ringier, 2011.

Published on the occasion of his exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion of the 2011 Venice Biennale, "Establishing a Critical Corpus" is the first theoretical book to extensively examine the practice and artworks of Thomas Hirschhorn, one of today's leading international Swiss artists. Born in 1957, and living and working in Paris since 1984, Thomas Hirschhorn is the author of a large body of work (site-specific installations, films, drawings, etc), immediately recognizable for its political conscience and its formal vocabulary. His work elicits debate, analysis, and a profound discussion of artistic and social issues.

"Establishing a Critical Corpus" is thus a charged and intense "textbook," providing texts and topics "to think about": Hirschhorn's work in general, a specific part of his work, one of his pieces, issues that extend beyond his work, and so on. These fully illustrated texts constitute the core of the book. As the artist says: "This publication asserts and gives form to one of my goals: 'Establishing a Critical Corpus.' A 'textbook' is what people are interested in: a critical and sovereign approach to art, to an artwork of today, and—in this case—to my artwork."

To establish this dense critical corpus, six authors from different fields and backgrounds were invited to contribute to the publication. They are Claire Bishop, Professor of Art History at CUNY Graduate Center; Sebastian Egenhofer, Professor of Art History at the University of Basel; Hal Foster, Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Princeton University; Manuel Joseph, a poet based in Paris; Yasmil Raymond, Curator at Dia Art Foundation, New York; and Marcus Steinweg, a philosopher based in Berlin. They give a remarkable insight into the uncompromising art and aesthetics that Thomas Hirschhorn has been building consistently for 25 years.

The book is published with the Swiss Federal Office of Culture on the occasion of the Swiss participation at the 54th Venice Biennale 2011.