Art and Subjecthood – The Return of the Human Figure in Semiocapitalism

Isabelle Graw, Daniel Birnbaum, Nikolaus Hirsch (Eds.)

Texts by Ina Blom, Oliver Brokel, Caroline Busta, Stefan Deines, Hal Foster, Stefanie Heraeus, Jutta Koether, Magdalena Nieslony, Michael Sanchez

Many contemporary artworks evoke the human figure: consider the omnipresence of the mannequin in current installations of artists like John Miller, Thomas Hirschhorn, Heimo Zobernig, or David Lieske. Or consider the revival of a minimalist vocabulary, which embraces anthropomorphism as in the works of Isa Genzken and Rachel Harrison. This book brings together contributions from the eponymous conference, all of which seek to speculate on the reasons as to why, since the turn of the millennium, we have encountered so many artworks that tend to reconcile Minimalism with suggestions of the human figure. It proposes that this new artistic convention becomes rather questionable when discussed in the light of Franco Berardi’s theory of semiocapitalism—a power technology that aims squarely at our human resources. The participants of this conference were asked to offer possible explanations for this wide acceptance of anthropomorphism—could it be that this is a manifestation of the increasingly desperate desire for art to have agency?

Art and Subjecthood
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