Since the 1990s, critics and curators have broadly accepted the notion that participatory art is the ultimate political art: that by encouraging an audience to take part an artist can promote new emancipatory social relations. Around the world, the champions of this form of expression are numerous, ranging from art historians such as Grant Kester, curators such as Nicolas Bourriaud and Nato Thompson, to performance theorists such as Shannon Jackson.

Artificial Hells is the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art, known in the US as “social practice.” Claire Bishop follows the trajectory of twentieth-century art and examines key moments in the development of a participatory aesthetic. This itinerary takes in Futurism and Dada; the Situationist International; Happenings in Eastern Europe, Argentina and Paris; the 1970s Community Arts Movement; and the Artists Placement Group. It concludes with a discussion of long-term educational projects by contemporary artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Tania Bruguera, Pawe? Althamer and Paul Chan.

Since her controversial essay in Artforum in 2006, Claire Bishop has been one of the few to challenge the political and aesthetic ambitions of participatory art. In Artificial Hells, she not only scrutinizes the emancipatory claims made for these projects, but also provides an alternative to the ethical (rather than artistic) criteria invited by such artworks. Artificial Hells calls for a less prescriptive approach to art and politics, and for more compelling, troubling and bolder forms of participatory art and criticism.

Theodor W. Adorno described artworks as windowless monads, for it is through their double character as both autonomous and “fait social” that unsolved antagonisms of reality return in them as immanent problems of form. Socially committed contemporary artists, however, experiment with other spheres of reference. They involve human beings as actors in communicative processes of reality construction, thus creating new spaces of possibility. The “New Relations in Art and Society” conference hosted by the Campus Museum of the Art Collections of the Ruhr-University of Bochum (RUB) considered this challenge. Taking the exhibition “Mischa Kuball: NEW POTT” and the mentioned conference as their starting point, various authors reflected on positions of participation in socially engaged art, discussing theoretical frameworks, artistic projects, and institutional challenges. This book presents participatory art projects and includes contributions from Claire Bishop, Beatrice Gibson, Thomas Hirschhorn, Sandra Höptner, Mischa Kuball, Kristin Marek, Nina Möntmann, Jacques Rancière, Eva Schmidt, Gerald Schröder, Beate Söntgen, Apolonia Sustersic, Franz Erhard Walther, Friederike Wappler, Astrid Wege, Lawrence Weiner and Harald Welzer. The publication is part of the series of artists’ projects edited by Christoph Keller.

What has been loosely termed installation Art dominates the exhibition programmes of galleries worldwide. However, while it is much discussed it has rarely been clearly defined. In this book author Claire Bishop provides both a history and a full critical examination of installation art, in a survey of the form that is both thorough and accessible. Installation Art will provide, for the first time, a clear account of the rise of this now prevalent strand of contemporary art. While revising and, in some cases, re-assessing many well-known names in post-1960 art, it will also introduce the audience to a wider spectrum of younger artists yet to receive serious critical attention.

2003 marks the 20th anniversary of the Turner Prize, which has done more than anything else to bring contemporary art to the attention of a wider audience in Britain. This book offers an opportunity to look back over all the artists that have taken part in the prize, allowing readers to make their own selection, including those shortlisted in 2003. All the artists are illustrated alongside a brief summary of their careers.

The desire to move viewers out of the role of passive observers and into the role of producers is one of the hallmarks of twentieth-century art. This tendency can be found in practices and projects ranging from El Lissitzky’s exhibition designs to Allan Kaprow’s happenings, from minimalist objects to installation art. More recently, this kind of participatory art has gone so far as to encourage and produce new social relationships. Guy Debord’s celebrated argument that capitalism fragments the social bond has become the premise for much relational art seeking to challenge and provide alternatives to the discontents of contemporary life. This publication collects texts that place this artistic development in historical and theoretical context. Participation begins with writings that provide a theoretical framework for relational art, with essays by Umberto Eco, Bertolt Brecht, Roland Barthes, Peter Bürger, Jen-Luc Nancy, Edoaurd Glissant, and Félix Guattari, as well as the first translation into English of Jacques Rancière’s influential “Problems and Transformations in Critical Art.” The book also includes central writings by such artists as Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, Joseph Beuys, Augusto Boal, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. And it features recent critical and curatorial debates, with discussions by Lars Bang Larsen, Nicolas Bourriaud, Hal Foster, and Hans-Ulrich Obrist.

Con il nome di Performance art si designa genericamente una vasta gamma di operazioni pratiche e concettuali che condividono l’aspirazione a superare il divario tra arte e vita. Nella performance, l’artista agisce con esiti immediati o differiti entro uno spazio non necessariamente deputato, spesso con la complicità di un pubblico che prende in qualche modo parte alla realizzazione dell’evento. Ciò ha ovviamente molte stimolanti implicazioni. Attraverso una serie di saggi, interviste e dichiarazioni di artisti e studiosi stranieri, questa antologia perlustra uno dei territori più complessi e affascinanti dell’odierno panorama artistico. Il volume raccoglie contributi di Philip Auslander, Christopher Bedford, Claire Bishop, Tania Bruguera, Graciela Carnevale, Franko B, Andrea Fraser, Gulliermo Gómez-Pena, Mona Hatoum, Adrian Heathfield, Amelia Jones, Miranda July, Allan Kaprow, Kubra Khademi, Mark McGowan, Bruce Nauman, Piotr Pavlenskij, Santiago Sierra, Koki Tanaka, Ulay, The Yes Men.

The chance situation or random eventówhether as a strategy or as a subject of investigationóhas been central to many artists’ practices across a multiplicity of forms, including expressionism, automatism, the readymade, collage, surrealist and conceptual photography, fluxus event scores, film, audio and video, performance, and participatory artworks. But whyóa century after Dada and Surrealism’s first systematic enquiriesódoes chance remain a key strategy in artists’ investigations into the contemporary world?

The writings in this anthology examine the gap between intention and outcome, showing it to be crucial to the meaning of chance in art. The book provides a new critical context for chance procedures in art since 1900 and aims to answer such questions as why artists deliberately set up such a gap in their practice; what new possibilities this suggests; and why the viewer finds the art so engaging.

Artists surveyed include: Vito Acconci, Bas Jan Ader, Francis Alys, William Anastasi, John Baldessari, Walead Beshty, Mark Boyle, George Brecht, Marcel Broodthaers, John Cage, Sophie Calle, Tacita Dean, Stan Douglas, Marcel Duchamp, Brian Eno, Fischli & Weiss, Ceal Floyer, Huang Yong Ping, Douglas Huebler, Allan Kaprow, Alison Knowles, Jiri Kovanda, Jorge Macchi, Christian Marclay, Cildo Meireles, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, Gabriel Orozco, Cornelia Parker, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Daniel Spoerri, Wolfgang Tillmans, Keith Tyson, Jennifer West, Ceryth Wyn Evans, La Monte Young

Writers include: Paul Auster, Jacquelynn Baas, Georges Bataille, Daniel Birnbaum, Claire Bishop, Guy Brett, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Stanley Cavell, Lynne Cooke, Fei Dawei, Gilles Deleuze, Anna Dezeuze, Russell Ferguson, Branden W. Joseph, Siegfried Kracauer, Jacques Lacan, Susan Laxton, Sarat Maharaj, Midori Matsui, John Miller, Alexandra Munroe, Gabriel Perez Barreiro, Jasia Reichardt, Julia Robinson, Eric L. Santner, Sarah Valdez, Katharina Vossenkuhl

Documents of Contemporary Art series
Copublished with Whitechapel Gallery, London

Published on the occasion of his exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion of the 2011 Venice Biennale, “Establishing a Critical Corpus” is the first theoretical book to extensively examine the practice and artworks of Thomas Hirschhorn, one of today’s leading international Swiss artists. Born in 1957, and living and working in Paris since 1984, Thomas Hirschhorn is the author of a large body of work (site-specific installations, films, drawings, etc), immediately recognizable for its political conscience and its formal vocabulary. His work elicits debate, analysis, and a profound discussion of artistic and social issues. “Establishing a Critical Corpus” is thus a charged and intense “textbook,” providing texts and topics “to think about”: Hirschhorn’s work in general, a specific part of his work, one of his pieces, issues that extend beyond his work, and so on. These fully illustrated texts constitute the core of the book. As the artist says: “This publication asserts and gives form to one of my goals: ‘Establishing a Critical Corpus.’ A ‘textbook’ is what people are interested in: a critical and sovereign approach to art, to an artwork of today, and—in this case—to my artwork.” To establish this dense critical corpus, six authors from different fields and backgrounds were invited to contribute to the publication. They are Claire Bishop, Professor of Art History at CUNY Graduate Center; Sebastian Egenhofer, Professor of Art History at the University of Basel; Hal Foster, Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Princeton University; Manuel Joseph, a poet based in Paris; Yasmil Raymond, Curator at Dia Art Foundation, New York; and Marcus Steinweg, a philosopher based in Berlin. They give a remarkable insight into the uncompromising art and aesthetics that Thomas Hirschhorn has been building consistently for 25 years.

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