Ian Farr

Ian Farr is commissioning editor for Documents of Contemporary Art. He was formerly an editor of Phaidon's Contemporary Artists and Themes & Movements series.

  • Memory

    Memory

    Ian Farr

    Investigations into the wide array of artistic relationships to memory, repetition and reappearance, and forgetting, in artworks from the late 1940s to the present.

    This anthology investigates the turn in art not only towards archives and histories, the relics of modernities past, but toward the phenomena, in themselves, of “haunting” and the activation of memory. It looks at a wide array of artistic relationships to memory association, repetition and reappearance, as well as forms of “active” forgetting. Its discussions encompass artworks from the late 1940s onward, ranging from reperformances such as Marina Abramović's Seven Easy Pieces (embodied resurrections of decades-removed performance pieces by her contemporaries) to the inanimate trace of “memory” Robert Morris assigns to his free-form felt pieces, which “forget” in their present configurations their previous slides and falls.

    Contextualizing memory's role in visual theory and aesthetic politics—from Marcel Proust's optics to Bernard Stiegler's analysis of memory's “industrialization”—this collection also surveys the diversity of situations and registers in which contemporary artists explore memory. Art that engages with memory embodied in material and spatial conditions is examined beside works that reflect upon memory's effects through time, and yet others that enlist the agency of remembrance or forgetting to work through aspects of the numerous pasts by which the present is always haunted.

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Contributor

  • Systems

    Systems

    Edward A. Shanken

    Writings survey system-based art, from its origins in works from the 1950s to the 1970s to its twenty-first century resurgence in works that draw on cutting-edge science.

    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. Jack Burnham's 1968 Artforum essay “Systems Aesthetics” and his 1970 “Software” exhibition marked the high point of systems-based art until its resurgence in the changed conditions of the twenty-first century.

    Systems traces this radical shift in aesthetics from its roots in mid twentieth-century general systems theory, cybernetics, and artificial intelligence to the cutting-edge science of the present. The collected texts examine the connections between advanced technological systems, our bodies and minds; the relation of musical to spatial and architectural structures; and the ways in which systems-based art projects can create self-generating entities and networks, alter our experience of time, change the configurations of social relations, cross cultural borders, and interact with threatened ecosystems.

    Artists surveyed include Roy Ascott, Driessens and Verstappen, David Dunn, Brian Eno, Frank Gillette, Michael Joaquin Grey, Hans Haacke, Helen Mayer Harrison, Newton Harrison, Joan Littlewood, Richard Paul Lohse, Laurent Mignonneau, Manfred Mohr, Nam June Paik, Cedric Price, Casey Reas, Ken Rinaldo, Tomás Saraceno, Sonia Sheridan, Christa Sommerer, Ubermorgen, Woody and Steina Vasulka, Peter Weibel, Mitchell Whitelaw, John Whitney, James Whitney, Stephen Willats, Iannis Xenakis

    Writers include Gregory Bateson, Mary Catherine Bateson, Pierre Bourdieu, R. Buckminster Fuller, Jack Burnham, Fritjof Capra, Geoff Cox, James P. Crutchfield, Boris Groys, Francis Halsall, Usman Haque, N. Katherine Hayles, Caroline Jones, Stephen Jones, Christian Katti, Bruno Latour, Mary Louise Lobsinger, James Lovelock, Niklas Luhmann, Humberto Maturana, Donella H. Meadows, William J. Mitchell, Gordon Pask, Nick Prior, Francisco Varela, Heinz von Foerster, Michael Weinstock, Norbert Wiener

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  • Ethics

    Ethics

    Walead Beshty

    Texts examine how the encounter of ethics and aesthetics has become central to the contested space of much recent art.

    The boundary of a contemporary art object or project is no longer something that exists only in physical space; it also exists in social, political, and ethical space. Art has opened up to transnational networks of producers and audiences, migrating into the sphere of social and distributive systems, whether in the form of “relational aesthetics” or other critical reinventions of practice. Art has thus become increasingly implicated in questions of ethics.

    In this volume, artist and writer Walead Beshty evaluates the relation of ethics to aesthetics, and demonstrates how this encounter has become central to the contested space of much recent art. He brings together theoretical foundations for an ethics of aesthetics; appraisals of art that engages with ethical issues; statements and examples of methodologies adopted by a diverse range of artists; and examinations of artworks that question the ethical conditions in which contemporary art is produced and experienced.

    Artists surveyed include Tania Bruguera, Christoph Büchel, Paul Chan, Lygia Clark, Danh Vo, Dexter Sinister, Andrea Fraser, Liam Gillick, David Hammons, Thomas Hirschhorn, Khaled Hourani, Sharon Lockhart, Kerry James Marshall, Renzo Martens, Boris Mikhailov, Hélio Oiticica, Seth Price, Walid Raad, Martha Rosler, Tino Sehgal, Allan Sekula, Santiago Sierra, Rirkrit Tiravanija

    Writers include Giorgio Agamben, Ariella Azoulay, Alain Badiou, Roland Barthes, David Beech, Claire Bishop, Nicolas Bourriaud, Simon Critchley, T.J. Demos, Maurizio Lazzarato, Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Rancière, Jan Verwoert

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  • Time

    Time

    Amelia Groom

    A survey of contemporary art and theory that proposes alternatives to outdated linear models of time

    What does 'contemporary' actually mean? This is among the fundamental questions about the nature and politics of time that philosophers, artists and more recently curators have investigated over the past two decades. If clock time—a linear measurement that can be unified, followed and owned—is largely the invention of capitalist modernity and binds us to its strictures, how can we extricate ourselves and discover alternative possibilities of experiencing time?

    Recent art has explored such diverse registers of temporality as wasting and waiting, regression and repetition, déjà vu and seriality, unrealized possibility and idleness, non-consummation and counter-productivity, the belated and the premature, the disjointed and the out-of-sync—all of which go against sequentialist time and index slips in chronological experience. While such theorists as Giorgio Agamben and Georges Didi-Huberman have proposed “anachronistic” or “heterochronic” readings of history, artists have opened up the field of time to the extent that the very notion of the contemporary is brought into question. This collection surveys contemporary art and theory that proposes a wealth of alternatives to outdated linear models of time.

    Artists surveyed include Marina Abramović, Francis Alÿs, Matthew Buckingham, Janet Cardiff, Paul Chan, Olafur Eliasson, Bea Fremderman, Toril Johannessen, On Kawara, Joachim Koester, Christian Marclay, nova Milne, Trevor Paglen, Katie Patterson, Raqs Media Collective, Dexter Sinister, Simon Starling, Hito Steyerl, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Tehching Hsieh, Time/Bank, Mark von Schlegell

    Writers include Giorgio Agamben, Mieke Bal, Geoffrey Batchen, Hans Belting, Walter Benjamin, Franco Berardi, Daniel Birnbaum, Georges Didi-Huberman, Dōgen Zenji, Peter Galison, Boris Groys, Brian Dillon, Elena Filipovic, Joshua Foer, Elizabeth Grosz, Adrian Heathfield, Rachel Kent, Bruno Latour, George Kubler, Doreen Massey, Alexander Nagel, Jean-Luc Nancy, Daniel Rosenberg, Michel Serres, Michel Siffre, Nancy Spector, Nato Thompson, Christopher Wood, George Woodcock

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  • The Market

    The Market

    Natasha Degen

    Critical and creative responses to the global art market's influence on issues of value, patronage, institutional power, and public agency.

    Transnational markets hold sway over all aspects of contemporary culture, and that has transformed the environment of recent art, blurring the previously discrete realms of price and value, capital and creativity. Artists have responded not only critically but imaginatively to the many issues this raises, including the treatment of artworks as analogous to capital goods, the assertion that art's value is best measured by the market, and the notion that art and money share an internal logic. Some artists have investigated the market's pressures on creative democracy, its ubiquity, vulgarity, and fetishizing force, while others have embraced the creative possibilities the market offers. And for a decade curators and theorists have speculated on the implications of this new symbiosis between art and money, cultural and economic value. Drawing on a wide range of interdisciplinary sources, in dialogue with artists' writings, this anthology traces the historic origins of these debates in different versions of modernism and surveys the relationships among art, value, and price; the evolution and influence of patronage; the actors and institutions of the art market; and the diversity of artistic practices that either criticize or embrace the conditions of the contemporary market.

    Artists surveyed include Carl Andre, Michael Asher, Fia Backström, Joseph Beuys, Ian Burn, Maurizio Cattelan, Elmgreen & Dragset, Andrea Fraser, Melanie Gilligan, Dan Graham, Guerrilla Girls, Andreas Gursky, Hans Haacke, Damien Hirst, Christian Jankowski, Yves Klein, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Les Levine, Liu Ding, Lee Lozano, Takashi Murakami, Ahmet Ögüt, Tino Sehgal, Richard Serra, Nedko Solakov, Andy Warhol, Fred Wilson and Zhou Tiehai.

    Writers include Theodor Adorno, Jack Bankowsky, Jean Baudrillard, Luc Boltanski, Pierre Bourdieu, Martin Braathen, Malcolm Bull, JJ Charlesworth, Eve Chiapello, Sophie Cras, Anthony Davies, Thierry de Duve, Marvin Elkoff, Simon Ford, Hal Foster, Peter Fuller, William Grampp, Josh Greenfeld, Michel Houellebecq, Miwon Kwon, Kate Linker, Lü Peng, Ursula Pasero, Scott Rothkopf, Peter Schjeldahl, Thomas Seelig, Marc Shell, Georg Simmel, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Wolfgang Ullrich, Karen van den Berg, Thorstein Veblen, Olav Velthuis, Dorothea von Hantelmann, Tom Wolfe and Thomas Zaunschirm.

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