Lecturas recomendables


Michael Fried, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before,  Yale, 2008.

From the late 1970s onward, serious art photography began to be made at large scale and for the wall. Michael Fried argues that this immediately compelled photographers to grapple with issues centering on the relationship between the photograph and the viewer standing before it that until then had been the province only of painting. Fried further demonstrates that certain philosophically deep problems—associated with notions of  theatricality, literalness, and objecthood, and touching on the role of original intention in artistic production, first discussed in his contro­versial essay “Art and Objecthood” (1967)—have come to the fore once again in recent photography. This means that the photographic “ghetto” no longer exists; instead photography is at the cutting edge of contemporary art as never before.

Among the photographers and video-makers whose work receives serious attention in this powerfully argued book are Jeff Wall, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Cindy Sherman, Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, Luc Delahaye, Rineke Dijkstra, Patrick Faigenbaum, Roland Fischer, Thomas Demand, Candida Höfer, Beat Streuli, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, James Welling, and Bernd and Hilla Becher. Future discussions of the new art photography will have no choice but to take a stand for or against Fried’s conclusions.   

Juan Antonio Ramírez, El objeto y el aura. (Des)orden visual del arte moderno, Madrid: Akal, 2009.

En este libro se defiende la idea de que las transformaciones artísticas de la modernidad nos ayudan a comprender en qué consistió el sistema que se ponía en cuestión, y a la inversa, pues es en el marco de la tradición donde adquieren sentido las revoluciones creativas de los últimos cien años. El (des)orden del arte moderno se evidencia así en unos pocos asuntos nucleares: emergencia y expansión del modo «panóptico» de visión; aparición del movimiento real superando al movimiento congelado o ilusorio; atención a los distintos primitivismos como alternativas al prestigio paralizante del canon occidental; autonomía creciente del objeto real frente al ficticio, con la irrupción, más reciente, de los entes virtuales; apropiación del suelo como territorio horizontal de la creación; y finalmente, reevaluación de la noción benjaminiana del aura, que no se perdió en las sociedades actuales sino que se habría extendido a cada reproducción o a cada gesto creativo. Juan Antonio Ramírez sostiene que si la modernidad ha producido algo comparable al orden visual renacentista, vigente durante varios siglos, no parece lógico aceptar su clausura a las pocas décadas de su nacimiento. El objeto y el aura es un libro insólito por su voluntad de plantear los grandes problemas del arte contemporáneo en la perspectiva histórica de «la larga duración», superando al «tiempo corto» de los acontecimientos privilegiado por la crítica de arte habitual.

Terry Smith, Okwuu Enwezor, Nancy Condee (eds.), Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity,  Durham/Londres: Duke UP, 2008.

In this landmark collection, world-renowned theorists, artists, critics, and curators explore new ways of conceiving the present and understanding art and culture in relation to it. They revisit from fresh perspectives key issues regarding modernity and postmodernity, including the relationship between art and broader social and political currents, as well as important questions about temporality and change. They also reflect on whether or not broad categories and terms such as modernity, postmodernity, globalization, and decolonization are still relevant or useful. Including twenty essays and seventy-seven images, Antinomies of Art and Culture is a wide-ranging yet incisive inquiry into how to understand, describe, and represent what it is to live in the contemporary moment.
In the volume’s introduction the theorist Terry Smith argues that predictions that postmodernity would emerge as a global successor to modernity have not materialized as anticipated. Smith suggests that the various situations of decolonized Africa, post-Soviet Europe, contemporary China, the conflicted Middle East, and an uncertain United States might be better characterized in terms of their “contemporaneity,” a concept which captures the frictions of the present while denying the inevitability of all currently competing universalisms. Essays range from Antonio Negri’s analysis of contemporaneity in light of the concept of multitude to Okwui Enwezor’s argument that the entire world is now in a postcolonial constellation, and from Rosalind Krauss’s defense of artistic modernism to Jonathan Hay’s characterization of contemporary developments in terms of doubled and even para-modernities. The volume’s centerpiece is a sequence of photographs from Zoe Leonard’s Analogue project. Depicting used clothing, both as it is bundled for shipment in Brooklyn and as it is displayed for sale on the streets of Uganda, the sequence is part of a striking visual record of new cultural forms and economies emerging as others are left behind.
Contributors: Monica Amor, Nancy Condee, Okwui Enwezor, Boris Groys, Jonathan Hay, Wu Hung, Geeta Kapur, Rosalind Krauss, Bruno Latour, Zoe Leonard, Lev Manovich, James Meyer, Gao Minglu, Helen Molesworth, Antonio Negri, Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, Nikos Papastergiadis, Colin Richards, Suely Rolnik, Terry Smith, McKenzie Wark

Nicolas Bourriaud, The Radicant, Nueva York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2008.

“In ordinary language, ‘modernizing’ has come to mean reducing cultural and social reality to Western formats. And today, modernism amounts to a form of complicity with colonialism and Eurocentrism. Let us bet on a modernity which, far from absurdly duplicating that of the last century, would be specific to our epoch and would echo its own problematics: an altermodernity whose issues and features this book seeks to sketch out.”

In his most recent essay, Nicolas Bourriaud claims that the time is ripe to reconstruct the modern for the specific context in which we are living. If modernism was a return to the origin of art or of society, to their purification with the aim of rediscovering their essence, then our own century’s modernity will be invented, precisely, in opposition to all radicalism, dismissing both the bad solution of re-enrooting in identities as well as the standardization of imaginations decreed by economic globalization.

To be radicant: it means setting one’s roots in motion, staging them in heterogeneous contexts and formats, denying them any value as origins, translating ideas, transcoding images, transplanting behaviors, exchanging rather than imposing. The author extends radicant thought to modes of cultural production, consumption and use. Looking at the world through the prism of art, he sketches a “world art criticism” in which works are in dialogue with the context in which they are produced.

“And if twenty-first-century culture was invented with those works that set themselves the task of effacing their origin in favor of a multitude of simultaneous or successive enrootings? This process of obliteration is part of the condition of the wanderer, a central figure of our precarious era, who insistently is emerging at the heart of contemporary artistic creation. This figure is accompanied by a domain of forms and by an ethical mode: translation, whose modalities and cardinal role in contemporary culture this book seeks to enumerate.”

Andreas Huyssen (ed.), Other Cities, Other Worlds. Urban Imaginaries in a Globalizing Age, Durham/Londres: Duke UP, 2008.

Other Cities, Other Worlds brings together leading scholars of cultural theory, urban studies, art, anthropology, literature, film, architecture, and history to look at non-Western global cities. The contributors focus on urban imaginaries, the ways that city dwellers perceive or imagine their own cities. Paying particular attention to the historical and cultural dimensions of urban life, they bring to their essays deep knowledge of the cities they are bound to in their lives and their work. Taken together, these essays allow us to compare metropolises from the so-called periphery and gauge processes of cultural globalization, illuminating the complexities at stake as we try to imagine other cities and other worlds under the spell of globalization.
The effects of global processes such as the growth of transnational corporations and investment, the weakening of state sovereignty, increasing poverty, and the privatization of previously public services are described and analyzed in essays by Teresa P. R. Caldeira (São Paulo), Beatriz Sarlo (Buenos Aires), Néstor García Canclini (Mexico City), Farha Ghannam (Cairo), Gyan Prakash (Mumbai), and Yingjin Zhang (Beijing). Considering Johannesburg, the architect Hilton Judin takes on themes addressed by other contributors as well: the relation between the country and the city, and between racial imaginaries and the fear of urban violence. Rahul Mehrotra writes of the transitory, improvisational nature of the Indian bazaar city, while AbdouMaliq Simone sees a new urbanism of fragmentation and risk emerging in Douala, Cameroon. In a broader comparative frame, Okwui Enwezor reflects on the proliferation of biennales of contemporary art in African, Asian, and Latin American cities, and Ackbar Abbas considers the rise of fake commodity production in China. The volume closes with the novelist Orhan Pamuk’s meditation on his native city of Istanbul.
Contributors: Ackbar Abbas, Teresa P. R. Caldeira, Néstor García Canclini, Okwui Enwezor, Farha Ghannam, Andreas Huyssen, Hilton Judin, Rahul Mehrotra, Orhan Pamuk, Gyan Prakash, Beatriz Sarlo, AbdouMaliq Simone, Yingjin Zhang

Hal Foster, Dioses prostéticos, Madrid: Akal,  2008.

¿Cómo imaginar no sólo un nuevo arte o arquitectura sino un nuevo yo o sujeto iguales a ellas? En 'Dioses prostéticos' Hal Foster explora esta cuestión a través de las obras y escritos de artistas modernos clave como Gauguin y Picasso, F. T. Marinetti y Wyndham Lewis, Adolf Loos y Max Ernst. Todas estas diversas figuras sintieron la fascinación por las ficciones del origen, bien primordiales y tribales, bien futuristas y tecnológicas. De este modo, sugiere Foster, dos formas llegaron a dominar el arte moderno por encima de todas las demás: lo primitivo y la máquina. Foster comienza con las fantasías primitivistas de Gauguin y Picasso, que examina a través de las lentes freudianas de la escena primordial. Luego pasa a ocuparse de las obsesiones puristas del arquitecto vienés Loos, que aborrecía todo lo primitivo. A continuación Foster considera los sujetos tecnofílicos postulados por el futurista Marinetti y el vorticista Lewis. Estos «nuevos egos» se contrastan más tarde con las «máquinas celibatarias» propuestas por el dadaísta Ernst. Foster también explora extrapolaciones procedentes del arte de los enfermos mentales en los modelos estéticos de Ernst, Paul Klee y Jean Dubuffet, así como manipulaciones del cuerpo femenino en la fotografía surrealista de Brassaï, Man Ray y Hans Bellmer. Finalmente, examina el impulso a disolver las convenciones del arte sin más en los cuadros por goteo de Jackson Pollock, las piezas esparcidas de Robert Morris y las earthworks de Robert Smithson, y rastrea la evocación de objetos del deseo perdidos en la obra escultórica de Marcel Duchamp y Alberto Giacometti hasta Robert Gober. Aunque el título está extraído de Freud, 'Dioses prostéticos' no impone la teoría psicoanalítica al arte moderno; por el contrario, pone ambos en una relación crítica e investiga el ampliado campo histórico que comparten.