- Perpetual Inventory
In essays that span three decades, one of contemporary art's most esteemed critics celebrates artists who have persevered in the service of a medium.
The job of an art critic is to take perpetual inventory, constantly revising her ideas about the direction of contemporary art and the significance of the work she writes about. In these essays, which span three decades of assessment and reassessment, Rosalind Krauss considers what she has come to call the "post-medium condition"--the abandonment by contemporary art of the modernist emphasis on the medium as the source of artistic significance. Jean-Francois Lyotard argued that the postmodern condition is characterized by the end of a "master narrative," and Krauss sees in the post-medium condition of contemporary art a similar farewell to coherence. The master narrative of contemporary art ended when conceptual art and other contemporary practices jettisoned the specific medium in order to juxtapose image and written text in the same work. For Krauss, this spells the end of serious art, and she devotes much of Perpetual Inventory to "wrest[ling] new media to the mat of specificity."
Krauss also writes about artists who are reinventing the medium, artists who persevere in the service of a nontraditional medium ("strange new apparatuses" often adopted from commercial culture), among them Ed Ruscha, Christian Marclay, William Kentridge, and James Coleman.
- Realism after Modernism - The Rehumanization of Art and Literature
The paradox at the heart of the return to realism in the interwar years, as seen in work by Moholy-Nagy, Brecht, and others.
The human figure made a spectacular return in visual art and literature in the 1920s. Following modernism's withdrawal, nonobjective painting gave way to realistic depictions of the body and experimental literary techniques were abandoned for novels with powerfully individuated characters. But the celebrated return of the human in the interwar years was not as straightforward as it may seem. In Realism after Modernism, Devin Fore challenges the widely accepted view that this period represented a return to traditional realist representation and its humanist postulates. Interwar realism, he argues, did not reinstate its nineteenth-century predecessor but invoked realism as a strategy of mimicry that anticipates postmodernist pastiche.
Through close readings of a series of works by German artists and writers of the period, Fore investigates five artistic devices that were central to interwar realism. He analyzes Bauhaus polymath Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's use of linear perspective; three industrial novels riven by the conflict between the temporality of capital and that of labor; Brecht's socialist realist plays, which explore new dramaturgical principles for depicting a collective subject; a memoir by Carl Einstein that oscillates between recollection and self-erasure; and the idiom of physiognomy in the photomontages of John Heartfield.
Fore's readings reveal that each of these "rehumanized" works in fact calls into question the very categories of the human upon which realist figuration is based. Paradoxically, even as the human seemed to make a triumphal return in the culture of the interwar period, the definition of the human and the integrity of the body were becoming more tenuous than ever before. Interwar realism did not hearken back to earlier artistic modes but posited new and unfamiliar syntaxes of aesthetic encounter, revealing the emergence of a human subject quite unlike anything that had come before.
- Tritium on Ice - The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power
In December 1998, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced that the U.S. planned to begin producing tritium for its nuclear weapons in commercial nuclear power plants. This decision overturned a fifty-year policy of keeping civilian and military nuclear production processes separate. Tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, is needed to turn A-bombs into H-bombs, and the commercial nuclear power plants that are to be modified to produce tritium are called ice condensers. This book provides an insider's perspective on how Richardson's decision came about, and why it is dangerous. Kenneth Bergeron shows that the new policy is unwise not only because it undermines the U.S. commitment to curb nuclear weapons proliferation but also because it will exacerbate serious safety problems at these commercial power facilities, which are operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority and are among the most marginal in the United States. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's review of the TVA's request to modify its plants for the new nuclear weapons mission should attract significant attention and opposition.
Tritium on Ice is part expose, part history, part science for the lay reader, and part political science. Bergeron's discussion of how the issues of nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear reactor safety have become intertwined illuminates larger issues about how the federal government does or does not manage technology in the interests of its citizens and calls into question the integrity of government-funded safety assessments in a deregulated economy.
- Germaine Krull - Photographer of Modernity
Germaine Krull (1897-1985) led an extraordinary life that spanned nine decades and four continents. She witnessed many of the high points of modernism and recorded some of the major upheavals of the twentieth century. Her photographs include avant-garde montages, ironic studies of female nudes, press propaganda shots, as well as some of the most successful commercial and fashion images of her day. Her political commitments led her from communist allegiance to incarceration in Russia as a counterrevolutionary to support of the Free French cause against Hitler to a reclusive existence among Tibetan monks in India. Kim Sichel's study of this remarkable artist reveals a life of deep convictions, implausible transformations, complex emotional relationships, and inspired achievements. Krull refused to limit herself to one long-term relationship, one geographical region, or one set of religious and moral beliefs. Contemporary critics ranked her with Man Ray and Andre Kertesz. Younger photographers such as Berenice Abbott looked up to her. Yet until recently the absence of an archive has made a proper evaluation of Krull's contribution to photography and to modernism difficult if not impossible. In this book Sichel examines Krull's autobiographical texts and photographic oeuvre to present and unravel the rich mythology that Krull fabricated around her life and work. The chapters follow the geographical and chronological sequence of Krull's life, moving from Munich to Moscow to Berlin to Amsterdam to Paris to Brazil to Africa to Bangkok and other locations. This book, which accompanies the first major retrospective exhibition on Krull, should secure Krull's rightful place among the masters of twentieth-century photography. EXHIBITION SCHEDULE: Museum Folkwang Essen, Germany October 1999 - December 1999 Haus der KunstMunich, Germany December 1999 - February 2000 San Francisco Museum of Modern ArtSan Francisco, California March - June 2000 KunsthalRotterdam, the Netherlands August - September 2000 Centre PompidouParis, France November - December 2000
- Cosmopolitan Commons - Sharing Resources and Risks across Borders
A new approach in commons theory to understand the interactions of technology, society, and nature, supported by case studies of new transnational European commons.
With the advent of modernity, the sharing of resources and infrastructures rapidly expanded beyond local communities into regional, national, and even transnational space--nowhere as visibly as in Europe, with its small-scale political divisions. This volume views these shared resource spaces as the seedbeds of a new generation of technology-rich bureaucratic and transnational commons. Drawing on the theory of cosmopolitanism, which seeks to model the dynamics of an increasingly interdependent world, and on the tradition of commons scholarship inspired by the late Elinor Ostrom, the book develops a new theory of "cosmopolitan commons" that provides a framework for merging the study of technology with such issues as risk, moral order, and sustainability at levels beyond the nation-state.
After laying out the theoretical framework, the book presents case studies that explore the empirical nuances: airspace as transport commons, radio broadcasting, hydropower, weather forecasting and genetic diversity as information commons, transboundary air pollution, and two "capstone" studies of interlinked, temporally layered commons: one on overlapping commons within the North Sea for freight, fishing, and fossil fuels; and one on commons for transport, salmon fishing, and clean water in the Rhine.
Hakon With Andersen, Nil Disco, Paul N. Edwards, Arne Kaijser, Eda Kranakis, Kristiina Korjonen-Kuusipuro, Tiago Saraiva, Nina Wormbs