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
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.
- Boredom (Documents of Contemporary Art)
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Rare, very early Donald Judd catalogue. First and only edition, published in 1970 by Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and Whitechapel, London.
An important early exhibition, this catalogue was edited by Lucy L. Lippard, designed by Jan van Toorn and features an introductory text by J. Leering (in English and Dutch), a conversation/interview with Donald Judd and Frank Stella together, and early selected texts by Donald Judd (featuring Kenneth Noland, Jean Arp, etc.) Illustrated throughout with examples of Judd’s work through black and white photographs and facsimiles of Judd’s drawings and plans, with a stapled-in catalogue sheet of the work-list shown at the Whitechapel Gallery on the inside of the rear cover (as intended for distribution). And, of course, stapled together in the wonderful metallic golden cover wraps!
An important and striking early catalogue for any Judd collection.
* Condition: Good (small scraping to the top-left spine corner on cover wrap, light handling wear and light edge tanning, but a very good copy throughout otherwise) – All care is taken to provide accurate condition details of used books, photos available on request.
- Don Judd (1970)
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