Situationist International

Boredom
Edited by Tom McDonough

Without boredom, arguably there is no modernity. The current sense of the word emerged simultaneously with industrialization, mass politics, and consumerism. From Manet onwards, when art represents the everyday within modern life, encounters with tedium are inevitable. And starting with modernism’s retreat into abstraction through subsequent demands placed on audiences, from the late 1960s to the present, the viewer’s endurance of repetition, slowness or other forms of monotony has become an anticipated feature of gallery-going.

In contemporary art, boredom is no longer viewed as a singular experience; rather, it is contingent on diverse social identifications and cultural positions, and exists along a spectrum stretching from a malign condition to be struggled against to an something to be embraced or explored as a site of resistance. This anthology contextualizes the range of boredoms associated with our neoliberal moment, taking a long view that encompasses the political critique of boredom in 1960s France; the simultaneous aesthetic embrace in the United States of silence, repetition, or indifference in Fluxus, Pop, Minimalism and conceptual art; the development of feminist diagnoses of malaise in art, performance, and film; punk’s social critique and its influence on theories of the postmodern; and the recognition, beginning at the end of the 1980s, of a specific form of ennui experienced in former communist states. Today, with the emergence of new forms of labor alienation and personal intrusion, deadening forces extend even further into subjective experience, making the divide between a critical and an aesthetic use of boredom ever more tenuous.

Artists surveyed include:
Chantal Akerman, Francis Alÿs, John Baldessari, Vanessa Beecroft, Bernadette Corporation, John Cage, Critical Art Ensemble, Merce Cunningham, Marcel Duchamp, Fischli & Weiss, Claire Fontaine, Dick Higgins, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Ilya Kabakov, Boris Mikhailov, Robert Morris, John Pilson, Sigmar Polke, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Gerhard Richter, Situationist International, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Andy Warhol, Faith Wilding, Janet Zweig

Writers include:
Ina Blom, Nicolas Bourriaud, Jennifer Doyle, Alla Efimova, Jonathan Flatley, Julian Jason Haladyn, The Invisible Committee, Jonathan D. Katz, Chris Kraus, Tan Lin, Sven Lütticken, John Miller, Agné Narušyté, Sianne Ngai, Peter Osborne, Patrice Petro, Christine Ross, Moira Roth, David Foster Wallace, Aleksandr Zinovyev

About the Author
Tom McDonough is Associate Professor of Art History at Binghamton University, State University of New York. He is the author of “The Beautiful Language of My Century”: Reinventing the Language of Contestation in Postwar France, 1945–1968 (MIT Press)

From the “Documents of Contemporary Art” series.

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Boredom (Documents of Contemporary Art)
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EXHIBITION
Lucy Steeds (Ed.) - Documents of Contemporary Art Series

This anthology provides a multivocal critique of the exhibition of contemporary art, bringing together the writings of artists, curators, and theorists. Collectively these diverse perspectives are united by the notion that although the focus for modernist discussion was individual works of art, it is the exhibition that is the prime cultural carrier of contemporaneity. The texts encompass exhibition design and form; exhibitions that are object-based, live, or discursive; projects that no longer rely on a physical space to be visited in person; artists’ responses to being curated and their reflections on the potential of acting curatorially. Set against the rise of the curator as an influential force in the contemporary art world, this volume underlines the crucial role of artists in questioning and shaping the phenomenon of the exhibition.

Artists surveyed include:
Rasheed Araeen, Art & Language, AA Bronson, Daniel Buren, Graciela Carnevale, Andrea Fraser, Piero Gilardi, Group Material, Richard Hamilton, Huang Rui, Laboratoire Agit-Art, Louise Lawler, Glenn Ligon, Konrad Lueg, Matsuzawa Yutaka, Palle Nielsen, OHO (Marko Pogagnik), Hélio Oiticica, Philippe Parreno, Victor Pasmore, Raqs Media Collective, Gerhard Richter, Ruangrupa, Situationist International, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Andy Warhol, Katsuhiro Yamaguchi

Writers include:
Judith Barry, Martin Beck, Charles Esche, Patricia Falguières, Elena Filipovic, Patrick Flores, Liam Gillick, Thelma Golden, Hou Hanru, Geeta Kapur, Pablo Lafuente, Lisette Lagnado, Lucy R. Lippard, Miguel A. López, Stuart Morgan, Chika Okeke-Agulu, Yvonne Rainer, Moira Roth, Seth Siegelaub, Wan-kyung Sung, El Hadji Sy, David Teh, Margarita Tupitsyn, Marion von Osten, Anton Vidokle, Peter Wollen

About the Editor:
Lucy Steeds is Pathway Leader in Exhibition Studies at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London.

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