Edited by Helen Molesworth
With Taylor Walsh
Louise Lawler has devoted her art practice to investigating the life cycle of art objects. Her photographs depict art in the collector’s home, the museum, the auction house, and the commercial gallery, on loading docks, and in storage closets. Her work offers a sustained meditation on the strategies of display that shape art’s reception and distribution. The cumulative effect of Lawler’s photographs is a silent insistence that context is the primary shaper of art’s meaning. Informed by feminism and institutional critique, Lawler’s witty, poignant, and trenchant photos frequently pay attention to a host of overlooked details—almost Freudian slips—that ineffably and tacitly shore up what we conventionally think of as art’s “power.”
This book includes the earliest published text on Lawler’s work; an examination of her ephemera (Lawler produced, among other things, matchbooks and paperweights); a rare interview with the artist, conducted by Douglas Crimp; a conversation between George Baker and Andrea Fraser on Lawler’s work; and essays by writers including Rosalind Krauss, Rosalyn Deutsche, and Helen Molesworth, the volume’s editor. The book traces the changing reception of Lawler’s work from early preoccupations with appropriation to later discussions of affect.
About the Editor
Helen Molesworth is Chief Curator at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston. She edited Louise Lawler’s Twice Untitled and Other Pictures (looking back), published by the Wexner Center for the Arts and distributed by the MIT Press.
- Louise Lawler (October Files)
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The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp
by Elena Filipovic
This groundbreaking and richly illustrated book tells a new story of the twentieth century’s most influential artist, recounted not so much through his artwork as through his “non-art” work. Marcel Duchamp is largely understood in critical and popular discourse in terms of the objects he produced, whether readymade or meticulously fabricated. Elena Filipovic asks us instead to understand Duchamp’s art through activities not normally seen as artistic—from exhibition making and art dealing to administrating and publicizing. These were no occasional pursuits; Filipovic argues that for Duchamp, these fugitive tasks were a veritable lifework.
Drawing on many rarely seen images, Filipovic traces a variety of practices and projects undertaken by Duchamp from 1913 to 1969, from his invention of the readymade to the release of his last, posthumous work. She examines Duchamp’s note writing, archiving, and quasi-photographic activities, which resulted in the Box of 1914 and the Green Box; his art dealing, marketing, and curating that culminated in experimental exhibitions for the Surrealists and his miniature museum, The Boîte-en-valise; and his administrative efforts and clandestine maneuvering in order to posthumously embed his Étant donnés into a museum. Demonstrating how those activities reflect the artist’s questioning of reproduction and originality, as well as photography and the exhibition, Filipovic proposes that Duchamp’s “non-art” labor, and in particular his curatorial strategies, more than merely accompanied his more famous artworks; in a certain sense, they made them.
Through Duchamp’s elusive but vital activities he revised the idea of what a modern artist could be. With this fascinating book, Filipovic in turn revises the very idea of Duchamp.
About the Author
Elena Filipovic, an art historian, is Director and Chief Curator of the Kunsthalle Basel. Among her curatorial projects is the traveling retrospective “Marcel Duchamp: A Work That Is Not a Work ‘of Art’” (2008-2009).
“In the 1970s Lucy Lippard remarked that Duchamp was already too much written about. How, then, is one to contribute effectively to the Duchamp literature today, given that it has become all the more voluminous since? In The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp Elena Filipovic finds a way, and does so with great intelligence. She claims, rightly, that the dominant readings of Duchamp have led to an occlusion of the ‘fugitive actions’ undertaken by Duchamp vis-à-vis the institution of art, and it is there that she locates her incisive study—specifically on ‘his role as administrator, archivist, art advisor, curator, publicist, reproduction maker, and salesman.’ Rather than see these activities as ancillary to his life as an artist, Filipovic locates them, brilliantly, at its center; they are indeed only ‘apparently marginal.’ This is just the book to reanimate discourse around Duchamp.”
—Hal Foster, Townsend Martin Class of 1917 Professor, Princeton University, author of Compulsive Beauty and Prosthetic Gods
“When an artist becomes a curator today, the exhibition is often treated like an extension of the artist’s medium. A century ago when Duchamp, having ceased to consider himself a professional artist, undertook to help out his friends by designing their exhibitions, did he think like a modernist fixated on medium specificity? This is the classic question that lies behind Elena Filipovic’s careful research in the archives. In light of her new syntheses, she rewrites the question to read: just how did Duchamp open up new possibilities for curators? The answer: the medium was not his message. Duchamp worked without professing, in a series of small, nonretinal steps; he avoided creating a single, prototypical model. He left behind a panorama of new ideas. Filipovic has collected them into a book that curators will come to regard as a resource.”
—Molly Nesbit, Professor of Art History, Vassar College, author of Their Common Sense
“In 1959, Marcel Duchamp referred to himself as ‘a non-artist.’ Exactly what he meant by this has never been fully explained until now, a lacuna in the vast literature on this artist that finally has been filled by Elena Filipovic’s marvelous new book, the first to deal with the various activities that preoccupied Duchamp when he wasn’t making art, particularly in the realm of curating (not only his own work, but that of his fellow artists in various exhibitions that he oversaw). Filipovic argues that these activities occur with such frequency and consistency in Duchamp’s life that they must be considered an integral component of his creative endeavors. The result is an entirely new way to look at the work of this important and highly influential artist.”
—Francis M. Naumann, author of The Recurrent, Haunting Ghost
“Yes, another Duchamp book. The one we least expected, but perhaps the one that we now need the most. Elena Filipovic’s brilliant book locates a ‘curatorial’ logic at the heart of Duchamp’s (deeply fascinating, often confusing, and impossibly disparate) activities. But more crucial even than its tracing of a long-ignored curatorial modernism, this book will in turn challenge what it might mean to curate today, at precisely the moment curators increasingly claim an artistic dimension for their own work.”
—George Baker, Professor of Art History, UCLA, author of The Artwork Caught by the Tail
- The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp
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Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black
by Cookie Mueller
Cookie trips through her forty-year odyssey on this planet — from LSD to shopping at the A&P, from birthing Max to shooting Pink Flamingos. The echoes of her passionate commitments will ring in your ears. It is a tragedy to have lost her. Fortunately, along with the memories, she left us this marvellous testament to her intrepid zest for living.
“Cookie Mueller wrote like a lunatic Uncle Remus – spinning little stories from Hell that will make any reader laugh out loud” – John Waters
- Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black by Cookie Mueller
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Hannibal Lecter, My Father
You can say I write stories with sex and violence and therefore my writing isn’t worth considering because it uses content much less lots of content. Well, I tell you this: ‘Prickly race, who know nothing except how to eat out your hearts with envy, you don’t eat cunt’…
Edited by Sylvere Lotringer and published in 1991, this handy, pocket-sized collection of some early and not-so-early work by the mistress of gut-level fiction-making, Hannibal Lecter, My Father gathers together Acker’s raw, brilliant, emotional and cerebral texts from 1970s, including the self-published ‘zines written under the nom-de-plume, The Black Tarantula. This volume features, among others, the full text of Acker’s opera, The Birth of the Poet, produced at Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1985, Algeria, 1979 and fragments of Politics, written at the age of 21. Also included is the longest and definitive interview Acker ever gave over two years: a chatty, intriguing and delightfully self-deprecating conversation with Semiotext(e) editor Sylvere Lotringer—which is trippy enough in itself as Lotringer, besides being a real person, has appeared as a character in Acker’s fiction. And last, but not least, is the full transcript of the decision reached by West Germany’s Federal Inspection Office for Publications Harmful to Minors in which Acker’s work was judged to be “not only youth-threatening but also dangerous to adults,” and subsequently banned.
Acker is the sort of the writer that should be read first at 16, so that you can spend the rest of your life trying to figure her out; she confuses, infuriates, perplexes and then all of a sudden the writing seems to be in your bloodstream, like some kind of benign virus. She’s definitely not for the easily offended—but then, there are worse things in life than being offended. Such as the things that Acker writes about…
- Kathy Acker - Hannibal Lecter, My Father
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