Texte Zur Kunst #93

Speculation is clearly the buzzword of the moment; in philosophy, art, the art market, literature, and finance. But what does it mean, exactly, to speculate? Speculation grasps for the nonexistent. As a financial operation, speculation aims to make the future controllable, calculating possible price developments on the basis of empirical data. One of the elementary pacemakers of present-day capitalism, it also plays a pivotal role in generating value in the field of contemporary art. It transforms the character of collections, collectors now aiming at a subsequent resale with profit maximization.

In contrast, theoretical speculation, e.g. in the form of Speculative Realism, is directed toward the fundamentally uncertain. This philosophical movement, which is increasingly present in contemporary art discourse, frequently positions speculation against the programs of critique and aesthetics. The question is whether this leads to an unreflecting leap toward the ‘things themselves’ which in turn requires a critical examination; but also, wherein the opportunities of speculative models lie: Speculation bears the promise of not merely critically addressing what is given, but of catching up with the hypothetical, thinking the potential. In this sense, speculation is a driving force for any creative mode.

In this issue, we ask for theoretical, artistic, and curatorial assessments of the current boom of speculative models. We look at Speculative Realism, the work of its first protagonists and its recent developments, as well as the widely popular curatorial recourses to speculative philosophy, as seen in the exhibition Speculations on Anonymous Materials at Fridericianum, Kassel. Our authors discuss the generation of value in the art system; art’s function in investment portfolios; and the early case of the art speculators “La Peau de l’Ours” in early 20th-century Paris. We also examine the temporal contracts that are implemented by speculative operations. And, with Rainald Goetz and Alexander Kluge, we publish two authors who explore the proximity of speculation and (literary) writing.

Plus a picture spread by DIS and reviews from Berlin, Chicago, Düsseldorf, Irvine, Karlsruhe, London, Los Angeles, New York, and Paris.

Exclusive new artists’ editions by Albert Oehlen and Richard Phillips.

English content:


Main Section

Steven Shaviro
Speculative Realism – A Primer 

Armen Avanessian
The Speculative End of the Aesthetic Regime

Suhail Malik
The Value of Everything

Michael Hutter
Balanced Investments. On Speculation in the Art Market

Sophie Cras
How to Sell the Bearskin. An Early Case of Art Speculation

In the Pull of Time
A conversation between Joseph Vogl and Philipp Ekardt

Alexander Kluge
Five Stories

Rainald Goetz
Speculative Realism

On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Working Speculatively
A survey with statements by Diedrich Diederichsen, Karin Harrasser, Jenny Jaskey, Jutta Koether, and Sam Lewitt

Kerstin Stakemeier
Prosthetic Productions. The Art of Digital Bodies. On “Speculations on Anonymous Materials” at Fridericianum, Kassel

Julian Stallabrass
How to Own it
On “Collecting Art for Love, Money and More” by Ethan Wagner and Thea Westreich Wagner

Daniel Horn
This is Not an Orange
On Lindsay Lawson at Gillmeier Rech, Berlin

Ana Finel Honigman
An Air of Apathy and Awkwardness
On Kaye Donachie at Maureen Paley, London

Timotheus Vermeulen
A Lingering Absence
On Ilse D’Hollander at Konrad Fischer, Düsseldorf

Alex Kitnick
Toward a New Monumentality
On Isa Genzken at MoMA, New York

Melanie Gilligan
On Language as Plastic Phenomenona
On Mira Schendel at Tate Modern, London

Suzanne Hudson
From Landscape to Lacan
On The Symbolic Landscape: Pictures Beyond the Picturesque at UC Irvine University Art Galleries

Ellen Feiss
Behind the Sequined Curtain
On Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz at Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe

Emma Hedditch / Kerstin Stakemeier
Ian White (1971–2013)

Artists’ Editions

Albert Oehlen
Baum, 2014

Richard Phillips
First Point, 2014


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