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Afterall Books

Untitled (couple)

In Richard Prince's 1977 work Untitled (couple), difference mixes uncannily with sameness. We can't quite tell whether the shiny couple we see is human or android; their clothing seems curiously out of date. Why do they fascinate us? What is it about their typicality that produces an impression of strangeness?

Michael Newman explores Prince's work and his revival of the image through photography—rephotographed reproduced photographs—after the impasses of conceptualism. Newman examines the relation of Prince's work to images appearing in illustrated magazines, advertising, and television during the artist's formative years and argues that the vintage TV series The Twilight Zone is crucial to understanding Prince's use of images in his work. He considers Prince's strategy of rephotographing photographs and looks at the theoretical, cultural, and critical implications of that practice. Drawing on previously unpublished material from a discussion he had with Prince in the early 1980s, Newman places Untitled (couple) within the context of Prince's writings and his other work including the famous Untitled (cowboy) series (rephotographed images of the iconic Marlboro man) and its expression of the role of fantasy in advertising. During the 1960s, structuralism recast the image as text; Prince's work, Newman argues, revived the image in such a way that it is irreducible to text.

Richard Prince is an artist based in New York known as a critic of and commentator on American consumer culture, including movies, advertisements, cartoons, and popular jokes.

I Want to Live in the Country (And Other Romances)

Joan Jonas approaches video as a drawing tool, a mirror, and a framing device. Since 1968, she has used video and performance to explore ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the archetypal authority of objects and gestures. With her influential 1976 work, I Want to Live in the Country (And Other Romances) Jonas nimbly structures an elliptical narrative that unmistakably establishes her voice and visual lexicon. I Want to Live in the Country features two locations—the untamed landscape of Nova Scotia and a television studio in New York City—as it examines themes of loss, displacement, time, and memory through still life compositions and Super-8 footage. Jonas creates a meditation of frames within frames, monitors within monitors, overlaid with poetic musings—a murmured story of the unconscious.

Jonas's influences have included the writing of Samuel Beckett, the films of Yasujiro Ozu, Japanese Noh theater, and the work of John Cage. Stripped down to intimate, indelible gestures, I Want to Live in the Country (And Other Romances) explores a Beckettian dilemma: "I am both the observer and the object that I observe. Which of the two is the real 'I'?" In this richly illustrated Afterall book, Susan Morgan examines the emergence of Jonas's original work from this synthesis of influences and ideas.

Joan Jonas, Professor of Visual Arts at MIT, is known for her pioneering video and performance art.

Contemporary Art and Eastern Europe
Edited by IRWIN

The artistic map of Europe contains different degrees of detail and resolution. Italy, France, and Spain are presented in fine grain, but the Balkan peninsula is little more than a vague outline. England, Germany, and Scandinavia have many features filled in, but to the east of Germany things are blurred. Until recently, cities like Sofia, Odessa, Skopje, and Belgrade had next to no definition. Further to the East, Moscow comes into focus, but this is no compensation for the Baltics, sentenced for the last half-century to blank space.

In the West, virtually every move of the artist, the art market, and the art public is documented. But in Eastern Europe, no such system of documentation or communication exists. Instead, we encounter systems that are not only inaccessible to the West, but incongruous from one country to the next. Beside the official art histories there is often a whole series of stories and legends about "unofficial," unapproved art and artists. East Art Map: Contemporary Art and Eastern Europe is an ambitious attempt to reconstruct the missing histories of contemporary art in Eastern Europe from an East European and artistic perspective. It is perhaps the widest ranging art documentation project ever undertaken by the East on the East, involving a large network of artists, scholars, curators and critics coordinated by the IRWIN group over several years.

The editors invited eminent art critics, curators, and artists to present up to ten crucial art projects produced in their respective countries over the past 50 years. The choice of the particular artworks (many of them reproduced in color), artists, and events, as well as their presentation, was left exclusively to the individual selectors. In addition, the editors asked experts from both East and West to provide longer texts offering cross-cultural perspectives on the art of both regions.

Afterall Books are distributed by The MIT Press.

(nostalgia)

In his 1971 short film, (nostalgia) , American artist and writer Hollis Frampton oveturned the conventional narrative roles of words and images. In his account of an artists's transformation from photographer to filmmaker, Frampton burns photographs he had taken and selected from his past along with one found photograph. A calm voice tells a story about an image, but the story is about the following image, not the one shown. Confounding comprehension still further, the narration begins and ends during the photograph's combustion; smoke and ashes get in our eyes while we are trying to make sense of the image and the narration—trying to remember the story that fits the image, trying to remember the image that fits the story...

Frampton's (nostalgia) is a formal masterpiece, long overlooked and understudied. It emerges from a body of film work that is rarely screened, the prints damaged and difficult to locate. Frampton's work is valued in artist filmmaking and film theory circles, but it has never taken its rightful place at the heart of modern art theory. This study will introduce a new generation to a critical moment in art history—when (nostalgia) confirmed both the essence and fragility of cinema itself.

Afterall Books are distributed by The MIT Press.

The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment

The fictitious hero of this 1984 installation is a lonely dreamer who develops an impossible project: to fly alone in cosmic space. But this dream is also an individual appropriation of a collective Soviet project and the official Soviet propaganda connected to it. Having built a makeshift slingshot, the hero apparently flies through the ceiling of his shabby room and vanishes into space. The miserable room and the primitive slingshot suggest the reality behind the Soviet utopia, in which where cosmic vision and the political project of the Communist revolution are seen as indissoluble.

The Man who Flew into Space from His Apartment also raises questions of authorship in modernity. All of Kabakov's work is made in the name of other, fictitious artists. This reveals a hidden rule of the modern art system: only an artist who doesn't want to be an artist or who doesn't even know that he is an artist is a real artist—just as only an artwork that does not look like an artwork is a real artwork. The installation is a narrative, the documentation of a fictitious event.

Afterall Books are distributed by The MIT Press.

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