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Overview

Utopian strategies in contemporary art seen in the context of the histories of utopian thinking and avant-garde art.

Throughout its diverse manifestations, the utopian entails two related but contradictory elements: the aspiration to a better world, and the acknowledgement that its form may only ever live in our imaginations. Furthermore, we are as haunted by the failures of utopian enterprise as we are inspired by the desire to repair the failed and build the new. Contemporary art reflects this general ambivalence. The utopian impulse informs politically activist and relational art, practices that fuse elements of art, design, and architecture, and collaborative projects aspiring to progressive social or political change. Two other tendencies have emerged in recent art: a looking backward to investigate the utopian elements of previous eras, and the imaginative modeling of alternative worlds as intimations of possibility. This anthology contextualizes these utopian currents in relation to political thought, viewing the utopian as a key term in the artistic lineage of modernity. It illuminates how the exploration of utopian themes in art today contributes to our understanding of contemporary cultures, and the possibilities for shaping their futures.

Artistis surveyed include
Joseph Beuys, Paul Chan, Guy Debord, Jeremy Deller, Liam Gillick, Antony Gormley, Dan Graham, Thomas Hirschhorn, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Paul McCarthy, Constant A. Nieuwenheuys, Paul Noble, Nils Norman, Philippe Parreno, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Superflex, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Mark Titchner, Atelier van Lieshout, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol, Wochenklauser, Carey Young.

Writers include
Theodor Adorno, Jennifer Allen, Catherine Bernard, Ernst Bloch, Yve-Alain Bois, Nicolas Bourriaud, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Alex Farquharson, Hal Foster, Michel Foucault, Alison Green, Fredric Jameson, Rosalind Krauss, Hari Kunzru, Donald Kuspit, Dermis P. Leon, Karl Marx, Jeremy Millar, Thomas More, William Morris, Molly Nesbit, Hans Ulrich Obrist, George Orwell, Jacques Rancière, Stephanie Rosenthal, Beatrix Ru.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262640695
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 10/09/2009
Series: Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Richard Noble is a scholar of contemporary art, critical theory, and the interrelation of art and politics. He is a Lecturer in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College, London.

Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969) was a student of philosophy, musicology, psychology, and sociology at Frankfurt where he later became Professor of Philosophy and Sociology and Co-Director of the Frankfurt School. During the war years he lived in Oxford, in New York, and in Los Angeles, continuing to produce numerous books on music, literature, and culture.

Writer, filmmaker, and cultural revolutionary, Guy Debord (1931–1994) was a founding member of the Lettrist International and Situationist International groups. His films and books, including Society of the Spectacle (1967), were major catalysts for philosophical and political changes in the twentieth century, and helped trigger the May 1968 rebellion in France.

Michel Foucault (1926–84) is widely considered to be one of the most influential academic voices of the twentieth century and has proven influential across disciplines.

Benjamin H. D. Buchloh is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Modern Art in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University and an editor of October magazine. He is the author of Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry: Essays on European and American Art from 1955 to 1975 (MIT Press) and other books.

Hal Foster is Townsend Martin '17 Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University and the author of Prosthetic Gods (MIT Press) and other books.

Yve-Alain Bois studied at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes under the guidance of Roland Barthes and Hubert Damisch. A founder of the French journal Macula, Bois is currently a professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ.

Rosalind E. Krauss is University Professor in the Department of Art History at Columbia University, where, from 1995 to 2006, she held the Meyer Schapiro Chair in Modern Art and Theory. She is a founding editor of October and the author of Passages in Modern Sculpture, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Myths, The Optical Unconscious, Bachelors, Perpetual Inventory, Under Blue Cup (all published by the MIT Press), and other books.

Thomas Hirschhorn (b. 1957) is a Swiss artist known for large sculptures and ambitious projects, often constructed of everyday, makeshift materials.

Richard Noble is a scholar of contemporary art, critical theory, and the interrelation of art and politics. He is a Lecturer in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College, London.

Nicolas Bourriaud was the co-director of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and an art advisor for the Victor Pinchuk foundation in Kiev. His previous books include L'ère tertiaire , Esthétique relationnelle , and Formes de vie .

Molly Nesbit teaches at Vassar College. She is a contributing editor at Artforum and is the author of Atget's Seven Albums and Their Common Sense. Dan Graham's artwork has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. His writings have appeared in Artforum , Arts , and numerous other magazines, books, and monographs.

Stephanie Rosenthal is Chief Curator of the Hayward Gallery.

What People are Saying About This

Arthur C. Danto

This is an exceptionally stimulating book, helping explain why Utopia continues to mean 'Nowhere.'

Endorsement

This is an exceptionally stimulating book, helping explain why Utopia continues to mean 'Nowhere.'

Arthur C. Danto, Johnsonian Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Columbia University, and art critic, The Nation

From the Publisher

What truly distinguishes this volume is the manner in which it reveals that the imagination of a perfect society is the other half of a critique of society, and that the two halves rarely add up. Some of the authors project brilliant visions of the future, others seek to examine the contemporary blockages on the utopian impulse, while most investigate the confusion of what makes (or does not make) something utopian within the context of art. This excellent selection of pieces that in one way or another contemplate utopia will help renew interest in this most important of subjects.

Alex Alberro , Virginia Bloedel Wright Associate Professor of Art History, Barnard College and Columbia University

Richard Noble has brilliantly brought together a selection of writings by artists, political theorists, critics and philosophers in order to investigate the utopian in contemporary art and culture—how art explores the impulse towards a better world, as well as how it plays out the intimation of a dystopian and dark universe so near to us. From canonical historical texts such as More's Utopia of 1516 and Marx and Engels' writings in the nineteenth century, to Orwell's 1949 dark vision of utopia gone sour in Nineteen Eighty-Four; from Adorno's avant-garde negativity to Debord and Constant's views of the total integration of art and political revolution in the 1950s and 1960s; from Beuys' view of a practical and realizable utopia of the 1970s, up to Pierre Huyghe, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Philippe Parreno's views of relational communities and conviviality at the turn of this new century; this collection of essays and interviews provides insight and challenges us to imagine the twenty-first century with absolute freedom.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev , Chief Curator, Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Artistic Director, Documenta 13

This is an exceptionally stimulating book, helping explain why Utopia continues to mean 'Nowhere. '

Arthur C. Danto , Johnsonian Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Columbia University, and art critic, The Nation

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Richard Noble has brilliantly brought together a selection of writings by artists, political theorists, critics and philosophers in order to investigate the utopian in contemporary art and culture—how art explores the impulse towards a better world, as well as how it plays out the intimation of a dystopian and dark universe so near to us. From canonical historical texts such as More's Utopia of 1516 and Marx and Engels' writings in the nineteenth century, to Orwell's 1949 dark vision of utopia gone sour in Nineteen Eighty-Four; from Adorno's avant-garde negativity to Debord and Constant's views of the total integration of art and political revolution in the 1950s and 1960s; from Beuys' view of a practical and realizable utopia of the 1970s, up to Pierre Huyghe, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Philippe Parreno's views of relational communities and conviviality at the turn of this new century; this collection of essays and interviews provides insight and challenges us to imagine the twenty-first century with absolute freedom.

Alex Alberro

What truly distinguishes this volume is the manner in which it reveals that the imagination of a perfect society is the other half of a critique of society, and that the two halves rarely add up. Some of the authors project brilliant visions of the future, others seek to examine the contemporary blockages on the utopian impulse, while most investigate the confusion of what makes (or does not make) something utopian within the context of art. This excellent selection of pieces that in one way or another contemplate utopia will help renew interest in this most important of subjects.

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