Symptoms of the image

Reivew of Emmanuel Alloa, Looking Through Images
Emmanuel Alloa, Looking Through Images. A Phenomenology of Visual Media, trans. Nils F. Schott (New York: Columbia University Press, 2021). 391pp., £121.00 hb., £30.00 pb., 978 0 23118 792 3 hb., 978 0 23118 793 0 pb. Emmanuel Alloa’s Looking Through Images is an exceptionally ambitious book that attempts nothing less than rethinking the fundamental […]

Subversive agency

Reivew of Jill Godmilow, Kill The Documentary
Jill Godmilow, Kill The Documentary: A Letter to Filmmakers, Students, and Scholars (New York: Columbia University Press, 2022). 224pp., £94.00 hb., £25.00 pb., 978 0 23120 276 3 hb., 978 0 23120 277 0 pb. Jill Godmilow’s Kill the Documentary: A Letter to Filmmakers, Students, and Scholars is a curious object. Although published by Columbia […]

Art’s social forms

Reivew of Louis Menand, The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War
Louis Menand, The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 2021). 857pp., £30.00 hb., 978 0 37415 845 3 During the past decade there has been an intensified debate in mainstream art criticism about the tension between art’s freedom and free speech. In this debate art’s freedom […]

Knowing looks

Reivew of Tom Holert, Knowledge Beside Itself
Tom Holert, Knowledge Beside Itself: Contemporary Art’s Epistemic Politics (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2020). 278 pp., €22.00 pb., 978 3 94336 597 9 Tom Holert remarks near the beginning of Knowledge Beside Itself that art has traditionally been defined in contradistinction to knowledge, at least scientific or systematic knowledge. How then to understand the proliferation of […]
Photo of a photo of a white brick modernist building

Back from the future

Reivew of Keti Chukhrov, Practicing the Good
Keti Chukhrov, Practicing the Good: Desire and Boredom in Soviet Socialism (Minneapolis: eflux/University of Minnesota Press, 2020). 336pp., £22.99 pb., 978 1 51790 955 0 Spinoza’s dictum that we ought to understand first – not ridicule, not cry, nor detest – is ignored surprisingly often, even in philosophical scholarship, when it comes to revising and […]
Neighbourhood mozaic hidden behind long grass showing woman in white holding child, doctor, soldier, student.

Protests against reality

Reivew of John Molyneux, The Dialectics of Art
John Molyneux, The Dialectics of Art (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2020). 300pp., £17.99 pb., 978 1 64259 131 6 This book is a significant contribution to the Marxist reflection on art. This is not a ‘Marxist history of art’, but a Marxist book about art, composed of various essays, some of a general theoretical character, and […]


Reivew of Sianne Ngai, Theory of the Gimmick
Sianne Ngai, Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgement and Capitalist Form (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020), 416pp., £28.95 hb., 978 0 67498 454 7 ‘[I]f only we could forget for a while about the beautiful and get down instead to the dainty and the dumpy’. In this oft-cited remark, made […]

Cleaning artefacts

Reivew of Dan Kidner and Alex Sainsbury eds., Nightcleaners & ’36 to ’77
Dan Kidner and Alex Sainsbury, eds., Nightcleaners and ’36 to ’77 (London: Raven Row, LUX and Koenig Books, 2018). Box-set containing two books (214pp.) and two DVDs/Blu-Rays. £24.00, 978 3 96098 381 1 From campaign film to experiment in documentary representation, and from exemplary instance of anti-realist and self-reflexive ‘Brechtian’ counter cinema (according to some […]

The monochrome and the readymade

Reivew of Jaleh Mansoor, Marshall Plan Modernism
Jaleh Mansoor, Marshall Plan Modernism: Italian Postwar Abstraction and the Beginnings of Autonomia (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016). 288pp., £80.00 hb., £20.99 pb., 978 0 82236 245 6 hb., 978 0 8223 6260 9 pb. The title of Jaleh Mansoor’s Marshall Plan Modernism provides a number of clues about the author’s methodological ambitions. The juxtaposition […]

Entrepreneurial subjectivity

Reivew of Marina Vishmidt, Speculation as a Mode of Production
Marina Vishmidt, Speculation as a Mode of Production: Forms of Value in Subjectivity in Art and Capital (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2018), 254pp., £120.00 hb., 978 9 00429 137 9 When the Swedish artists Goldin+Senneby’s Eternal Employment was chosen as one of the main public art works to feature in the massive rebuilding of the […]

Interview: Forgetting Vietnam

Trinh T. Minh-ha teaches in the University of California, Berkeley’s departments of Rhetoric, and Gender and Women’s Studies. Born in Hanoi in 1952, Trinh emigrated to the United States in 1970 where she studied musical composition, ethnomusicology and French literature, completing her PhD dissertation in 1977 under the title: Un Art sans Oeuvre: l’Anonymat dans […]

The Palestinian Museum

How are we to think about a museum that represents a people who not only do not exist on conventional maps but who are also in the process of resisting obliteration by one of the most brutal military complexes in the world? What is, and what can be, the role of a museum in a […]

Everybody out!

Reivew of Yates McKee, Strike Art
Yates McKee, Strike Art: Contemporary Art and the Post-Occupy Condition (London and New York: Verso, 2016). 304pp., £16.99 hb., £12.99 pb., 978 1 78478 188 0 hb., 978 1 78478 681 6 pb. Yates McKee’s book is concerned with the power of the strike under contemporary conditions. What he understands by ‘strike’ incorporates, however, a […]

Now the party’s over

Reivew of Paul Clements, The Creative Underground
Paul Clements, The Creative Underground: Art, Politics and Everyday Life (New York and London: Routledge, 2017). 232 pp., £110.00 hb., 978 1 13888 686 5 As Simone de Beauvoir notes in The Ethics of Ambiguity, the creative process is an event or ‘festival’ which demands a break with linear time, a de-temporalisation of modernity; a […]

Neoliberal Art History

that emerge in viewing the past, even our own pasts, which these psychoanalytically versed historians all choose to emphasize. The early and celebrated Italian practitioner of this genre Luisa Passerini sums up the shared outlook in the final essay in this volume: The main contribution of psychoanalysis to historical studies … has been to make […]

Architecture or art? (Response to Leslie); War between philosophy and art (Response to Bernstein); Frank significance (Response to Orozco)

~’, LETTERS Architecture or art? Esther Leslie’s sour dismissal of the wrapping of the Reichstag by Christo and Jeanne-Claude (RP 77) contains a number of doubtful and contradictory arguments. Permission to wrap the building required a parliamentary vote; approval was by 295 votes to 226. This democratic act by an institution of the state is […]

Revealing the Truth of Art

Revealing the Truth of Art Andrew Bowie Philosophical discussion of art in English tends not to aim its sights particularly high, and some Anglo-Saxon philosophy has effectively denied art any serious philosophical significance at all. In this light a contemporary German book* which wishes to argue for the truth of art over that of the […]

Images of the French Revolution; Reviving Cultural Studies; Philosophy and the Visual Arts; Nietzsche Society and Conference

of Oxford University’. Ayer’s radicalism, together with his enduring commitment to scientific philosophising in the manner of Russell, made the rest of the British philosopical establishment uneasy, and his philosophical work was widely regarded as obsolete by the 1950s. (His masterpiece, Language, Truth and Logic was published in 1936.) Still, he had ‘the qualities of […]