Despina Zefkili discusses the criticial and political expectations of Documenta 14.
Joan Key reviews Bloom, (Emma Brooker, ed, essays by Edward Chell, Anna Ricciardi and Hugh Warwick, Horniman Museum and Gardens, 2015). Bloom was published to commemorate the installation of paintings and related objects from the collection, created by Edward Chell for the Horniman Museum from 9 July to 6 December 2015.
Philomena Epps reviews Artes Mundi 7 (October 2016-February 2017) - the biennial international exhibition and prize, which takes place in Cardiff. Translated from the Latin, artes mundi means ‘arts of the world’. The theme of the seventh edition was ‘The Human Condition’; considering what it means to be human in contemporary society. The shortlist of artists were John Akomfrah, Neïl Beloufa, Amy Franceschini/Futurefarmers, Lamia Joreige, Nástio Mosquito and Bedwyr Williams. Through their work, each artist examines important issues – migration, capitalism, power structures, history and memory – questioning ‘what it means to be human in our complex, contemporary world… [through] humour, surrealism and provocation’.
"So just how should we progress, contribute and critique meaningfully within ‘Post-Brexit’ Britain?"
"Whether ‘imaging badly’ in speech, or ‘speaking evil’ in images, blasphemy has long been with us. But as far as I know, the Greek word blasphemy (βλασφημέω) does not appear in Homer or Hesiod. Liddell and Scott have it first in Euripides’ Ion and then in Plato’s Laws (‘when some worshipper… breaks down into downright blasphemy’). Blasphemy seems to have come in with philosophy and law, especially when the Law, ‘that which is laid down’, became explicit enough to distinguish between ‘evil speaking’ (blasphemy) and its opposite, ‘virtuous speaking’ (euphemism), in a legal sense. Blame is a doublet of blasphemy, and the law is concerned with assigning and apportioning blame; or fame, which is also based on what is said about someone or something."
Samir El Azhar reviews Moulim El Aroussi, Visual Arts in the Kingdom of Morocco, published by The Arab League’s Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization in 2015.
"Coco Fusco’s Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba is a unique endeavour: a sobering, Foucauldian analysis of a vibrant national art scene infiltrated by a repressive state. As a flip through the generous illustrations attests, the volume doubles as a historical overview of ‘performance’ in post-revolutionary Cuba more generally: from state-mandated spectacles for modelling conduct in the early 1960s to today’s protests and hunger strikes on behalf of political prisoners; from the vernacular endurance practiced in religious processions to the packaging of bodily vitality for tourists at venues like the Tropicana Nightclub."
"Like Documenta, the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea was also initially prompted by a tragic historic event. The massive quinquennial Kassel exhibition is the world’s most important art event and evolved in reaction to the WWII bombings that destroyed almost the entire city centre. The Gwangju Biennale was founded in 1995, commemorating the student uprising that began on 18 May 1980, when the government deployed tanks and paratroopers to violently beat down on protests against the dictator Chun Doo-hwan. More than 200 civilians were killed, many more were injured, imprisoned or vanished. Numbers differ, depending on the historical source."
susan pui san lok’s recent exhibition (19 September – 15 November 2015) at Derby’s QUAD Gallery premiered a new body of work entitled ‘RoCH Fans and Legends’, which travelled to Manchester’s CFCCA (Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, in partnership with Animate Projects and the University of Salford) to conclude their 30th anniversary programme of exhibitions. The work provokes questions around the dichotomies of fact and fiction, fandom and auteurship.
Departing from the statement that the discipline of art history ‒ with its still functioning Eurocentric bias in times of global perspectives ‒ is in crisis, the conference ‘The Savage Hits Back’ Revisited: Art and Global Contemporaneity in the Colonial Encounter’ organised by Anna Brus, Joseph Imorde and Erhard Schüttpelz (University of Siegen) turned towards German anthropologist Julius Lips (1895–1950) and his work The Savage Hits Back (1937) for some answers.
"A kinetic contraption, with four coloured T-shirts hanging from its mechanical limbs, performs an awkward choreography in the Palazzo Donà Brusa. Two T-shirts – red and white, folded in complementary halves – are thrust toward each other, then fall still. Side by side they signal a Polish flag, but also a torso or body made provisionally whole. Soon the machine jerks into action again, pulling the emblem apart to produce new configurations. A German flag appears when black and yellow T-shirts are combined with the red. More often than not, however, the colours are suspended in a fragmented state, awaiting instruction..."
"Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia, an exhibition at the Harvard Art Museums. Curated by Stephen Gilchrist, the Australian Studies Visiting Curator at Harvard University, Everywhen elegantly and succinctly intervenes in crucial debates animating not only studies of Indigenous art, but contemporary art more broadly. Both thematically and physically, Gilchrist organised the exhibition and its space around four key topics: seasonality, transformation, performance and remembrance."
'Christof Masher’s paintings dramatise the act of remembering a place [...] The slippages of memory become literal slippages on the painting’s surface. In many of the artist’s works, the scene is composed of a constellation of foci against washes of quasi-abstract colour: not a view, but a collection of seemingly specific and self-contained viewpoints sharing a single painted space.' - Ben Street
'The 2016 Marrakech Biennale has rekindled much of the faith in and passion for art as it is presented in international exhibitions that I have lost in recent years'. Nicola Gray writes about the 6th Marrakech Biennale (24 February - 8 May 2016).
Written at the close of the exhibition, N J Hynes' review of the 2015 Venice Biennale examines the staying power of both the exhibition and its critics’ objections, six months on. Which of them lasted the course?
Richard Drayton reviews Art in the Time of Colony (2014) by Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll.
Juliet Steyn reviews Brad Prager, After the Fact: The Holocaust in Twenty-First Century Documentary Film, Bloomsbury, 2015.
Ed McKeon reviews Heiner Goebbels, Aesthetics of Absence: Texts on Theatre, ed, Jane Collins with Nicholas Till, trans, David Roesner and Christina M Lagao, Routledge 2015.
A review essay of Lisa Le Feuvre’s Failure and of the conference session 'Towards a Loser’s Art History'. This article discusses failure as a manifold and productive notion in the broad context of art. On the one hand, it considers failure as an operative and promising art process while, on the other, it also it also analyses the potential of failure as a relevant methodological notion in art history. By comparing different perspectives and disciplinary positions on this topic, failure is here examined not just as an important mode in artistic creation, but also as a form of countering major art historical narratives and opening up new critical, and often invisible, fields for artistic cultural studies.
Featured at last November’s 13th Performa Biennial in New York, Einat Amir’s show Our Best Intentions comprised a 4-channeled video installation and a series of live participatory performances, alternately taking place in the same exhibition space. The performances invited the audience to partake in theatric and therapeutic group sessions reminiscent of the ones displayed in the videos, thus turning the spectators to active performers. This review of Our Best Intentions explores how the participatory performances challenged the promise that the videos had inculcated. Watching the videos’ participants simulate and embody affective modes typically connotative with reality shows, we too yearn to behold, experience, and deliver, stardoms of sentimentality. Yet while the videos foregrounded a lucid yet complex, staged yet sincere, series of intimate disclosures, excavating the inner workings of the pains of others for our observing gazes, the participatory performances contested the merits and privileges of witnessing, weaving an event of multifaceted re-enactments and inter-activities.
The 2013 Istanbul Biennial, which set out to consider the public domain as a vital but imperilled forum for political expression, opened just three months after the onset of the Gezi Park resistance movement, to which the curator Fulya Erdemci responded by cancelling or relocating the projects that had been commissioned for public sites in the city. Despite that much-criticized decision, she oversaw a strong biennial that consistently took up positions consonant with those of the protestors.
A review of the latest monograph of work by the artist Bashir Makhoul, in the context of Makhoul’s participation in the 55th Venice Biennale with his installation Giardino Occupato. Shela Sheikh considers themes of repetition, revenance and ghostly return, in both Makhoul’s work and this volume, that in turn bring to mind the ‘right to return’ haunting any discourse on Palestinian identity. Offering a survey across Makhoul’s oeuvre, this is the third in the Palestinian art series by Palestinian Art Court – Al Hoash, and is edited by August Jordan Davis and Jonathan Harris.
These online articles, guest edited by Jonathan Harris, feature material complementary to our recently published special issue Global Occupations of Art.
Beccy Kennedy’s case studies of migrant women artists from Korea resident in Britain were conducted between 2006 and 2010. Her research enlightens a hitherto unknown sector of contemporary artists negotiating a new identity to make their art in Britain. Gender issues and identity politics are significant for Korean women who developed in a post-Confucian, post-military society and have relocated to Britain. Their eloquent testimony presents them primarily as individual artists, not Korean women migrants.
Can art actively contribute to the healing process of communities divided and deeply scarred by the legacies of institutional racism?
Our special issue, The Art of Change in South Africa, May 2013, assessed the evolution of art projects in the context of South Africa’s policy of reconciliation. Emma Barrow’s article opens another perspective on the thorny question of reconciliation confronting art in Australia whose indigenous people suffered genocide in the past and face enduring injustice in the present. She presents artists and artworks to create a lens through which history and culture, power and reclamation are examined in terms of the production of knowledge. What hope does art offer for reconciling the indigenous and postcolonial populations of contemporary Australia?
Third Text was deeply grieved by David Craven’s untimely passing on 11 February 2012. He was a valued contributor to the journal and a long-time member of our Advisory Board. David had initiated a special issue of Third Text on the art of the Mexican Revolution at the time of his death. This issue, completed by his collaborators at the University of New Mexico, will be published in homage in March 2014.
We are pleased to publish this retrospective review, thoroughly researched by his friend and colleague Brian Winkenweder, which traces the diverse influences on David Craven’s practice of a socially-engaged art history. Craven applied theories of historical materialism to assess the role art performs in the developing world. Special emphasis is given to the manner in which Craven blended the critical analysis of the Frankfurt school with the work of José Carlos Mariátegui and Meyer Shapiro to establish a unique voice in both art history and postcolonial studies.
Brian Winkenweder’s collection of David Craven’s writings, Art History as Social Praxis: the Collected Writings of David Craven, is shortly to be published by Brill, Leiden, as part of their Historical Materialism series.
Readers interested in David Craven: A Bibliography (1976-2011), from which the ‘Future Perfect’ essay derives, can obtain a copy (for a minimal charge of $10 to cover shipping and handling) by contacting Brian Winkenweder by email at email@example.com
The six essays included in this online supplement advance further the thematic engagement of Third Text 120, a special issue dedicated to contemporary art and the politics of ecology. The issue investigates the intersection of art criticism, politico-ecological theory, environmental activism and postcolonial globalization. The focus is on practices and discourses of eco-aesthetics that have emerged in recent years in geopolitical areas as diverse as the Arctic, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Europe and Mexico.