by The MIT Press

Politically Red
Eduardo Cadava, Sara Nadal-Melsio
The MIT Press - 30.00€ -

How reading and writing are collective acts of political pedagogy, and why the struggle for change must begin at the level of the sentence. 

"Reading is class struggle," writes Bertolt Brecht. Politically Red contextualizes contemporary demands for social and racial justice by exploring the shifting relations between politics and literacy.

Through a series of creative readings of Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Walter Benjamin, W. E. B. Du Bois, Fredric Jameson, and others, it casts light on history as an accumulation of violence and, in doing so, suggests that it can become a crucial resource for confronting the present insurgence of inequality, racism, and fascism. Reading between the lines, as it were, and even behind them, Cadava and Nadal-Melsió engage in an inventive mode of activist writing to argue that reading and writing are never solitary tasks, but always collaborative and collective, and able to revitalize our shared political imagination.

Drawing on what they call a "red common-wealth"—an archive of vast resources for doing political work and, in particular, anti-racist work—they demonstrate that sentences, as dynamic repositories of social relations, are historical and political events.

Imaginary Languages: Myths, Utopias, Fantasies, Illusions, and Linguistic Fictions
Marina Yaguello
The MIT Press - 30.00€ -  out of stock

An exploration of the practice of inventing languages, from speaking in tongues to utopian schemes of universality to the discoveries of modern linguistics.

In Imaginary Languages, Marina Yaguello explores the history and practice of inventing languages, from religious speaking in tongues to politically utopian schemes of universality to the discoveries of modern linguistics. She looks for imagined languages that are autonomous systems, complete unto themselves and meant for communal use; imaginary, and therefore unlike both natural languages and historically attested languages; and products of an individual effort to lay hold of language. Inventors of languages, Yaguello writes, are madly in love: they love an object that belongs to them only to the extent that they also share it with a community.

Yaguello investigates the sources of imaginary languages, in myths, dreams, and utopias. She takes readers on a tour of languages invented in literature from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, including that in More's Utopia, Leibniz's "algebra of thought," and Bulwer-Lytton's linguistic fiction. She examines the linguistic fantasies (or madness) of Georgian linguist Nikolai Marr and Swiss medium Hélène Smith; and considers the quest for the true philosophical language. Yaguello finds two abiding (and somewhat contradictory) forces: the diversity of linguistic experience, which stands opposed to unifying endeavors, and, on the other hand, features shared by all languages (natural or not) and their users, which justifies the universalist hypothesis.

Postsensual Aesthetics: on the logic of the curatorial
James Voorhies
The MIT Press - 26.00€ -  out of stock

In this original work of aesthetic theory, James Voorhies argues that we live in the shadow of old ways of thinking about art that emphasize the immediate visual experience of an autonomous art object. But theory must change as artistic and curatorial production has changed. It should encompass the full range of activities through which we encounter art and exhibitions, in which reading and thinking are central to the aesthetic experience. Voorhies advances the theoretical framework of a "postsensual aesthetics," which does not mean we are beyond a sensual engagement with objects, but rather embraces the cognitive connections with ideas that unite art and knowledge production. Cognitive engagements with art often begin with publications conceived as integral to exhibitions, conveying the knowledge and research artists and curators produce, and continuing in time and space beyond traditional curatorial frames. The idea, and not just visual immediacy, is now art's defining moment.  

Voorhies reframes aesthetic criteria to account for the liminal, cognitive spaces inside and outside of the exhibition. Surveying a wide range of artists, curators, exhibitions, and related publications, he repositions the aesthetic theory of Theodor Adorno, and draws inspiration from Rosalind Krauss and Fredric Jameson, to describe a contemporary "logic of the curatorial." He demonstrates how, even as we increasingly expect to learn from contemporary art, we must avoid an instrumentalist and reductive view of art as a mere source of information. As Voorhies shows through an analysis of two major global exhibitions, dOCUMENTA (13) (artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev) and Documenta11 (artistic director Okwui Enwezor), and of Ute Meta Bauer's curatorial work at the Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, it is imperative for artistic research to retain its unique role in the production of knowledge.

Absence of Clutter: Minimal writing as art and literature
Paul Stephens
The MIT Press - 50.00€ -  out of stock

An exploration of minimal writing—texts generally shorter than a sentence—as complex, powerful literary and visual works.

In the 1960s and 70s, minimal and conceptual artists stripped language down to its most basic components: the word and the letter. Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Carl Andre, Lawrence Weiner, and others built lucrative careers from text-based art. Meanwhile, poets and writers created works of minimal writing—visual texts generally shorter than a sentence. (One poem by Aram Saroyan reads in its entirety: eyeye.) In absence of clutter, Paul Stephens offers the first comprehensive account of minimal writing, arguing that it is equal in complexity and power to better-known, more commercial text-based art.

Minimal writing, Stephens writes, can be beguilingly simple on the surface, but can also offer iterative reading experiences on multiple levels, from the fleeting to the ponderous. “absence of clutter,” for example, the entire text of a poem by Robert Grenier, is both expressive and self-descriptive. Stephens first sets out a theoretical framework for reading and viewing minimal writing and then offers close readings of works of minimal writing by Saroyan, Grenier, Norman Pritchard, Natalie Czech, and others. He “reverse engineers” recent works by Jen Bervin, Craig Dworkin, and Christian Bök that draw on molecular biology, and explores print-on-demand books by Holly Melgard, code poetry by Nick Montfort, Twitter-based work by Allison Parrish, and the use of Instagram by Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Saroyan. Text, it seems, is becoming ever more prevalent in visual art; meanwhile, poems are getting shorter. When reading has become scanning a screen and writing tapping out a text, absence of clutter invites us to reflect on how we read, see, and pay attention.

Autotheory as Feminist Practice in Art, Writing, and Criticism
Lauren Fournier
The MIT Press - 42.50€ -  out of stock

Autotheory—the commingling of theory and philosophy with autobiography—as a mode of critical artistic practice indebted to feminist writing and activism.

In the 2010s, the term “autotheory” began to trend in literary spheres, where it was used to describe books in which memoir and autobiography fused with theory and philosophy. In this book, Lauren Fournier extends the meaning of the term, applying it to other disciplines and practices. Fournier provides a long-awaited account of autotheory, situating it as a mode of contemporary, post-1960s artistic practice that is indebted to feminist writing, art, and activism. Investigating a series of works by writers and artists including Chris Kraus and Adrian Piper, she considers the politics, aesthetics, and ethics of autotheory.

Fournier argues that the autotheoretical turn signals the tenuousness of illusory separations between art and life, theory and practice, work and the self—divisions long blurred by feminist artists and scholars. Autotheory challenges dominant approaches to philosophizing and theorizing while enabling new ways for artists and writers to reflect on their lives. She argues that Kraus's 1997 I Love Dick marked the emergence of a newly performative, post-memoir “I”; recasts Piper's 1971 performance work Food for the Spirit as autotheory; considers autotheory as critique; examines practices of citation in autotheoretical work, including Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts; and looks at the aesthetics and ethics of disclosure and exposure, exploring the nuanced feminist politics around autotheoretical practices and such movements as #MeToo. Fournier formulates autotheory as a reflexive movement, connecting thinking, making art, living, and theorizing.

Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image
Erika Balsom, Hila Peleg (eds.)
The MIT Press - 42.00€ -

This book offers intersectional, intergenerational, and international perspectives on nonfiction film- and videomaking by and about women, examining practices that range from activist documentaries to avant-garde experiments. Concentrating primarily on the period between the 1970s and 1990s, the contributions revisit major figures, contexts, and debates across a polycentric, global geography. They explore how the moving image has been a crucial terrain of feminist struggle--a way of not only picturing the world but remaking it.  

The contributors consider key decolonial filmmakers, including Trinh T. Minh-ha and Sarah Maldoror; explore collectively produced films with ties to women's liberation movements in different countries; and investigate the cinematic expressions of tensions and alliances between feminism and anti-imperialist struggles. They grapple with the need for a broader more inclusive definition of the term "feminism"; meditate on the figure of the grandmother; reflect on realist aesthetics; and ask what a feminist film historiography might look like.  

The book, generously illustrated with film stills and other images, many in color, offers ten original texts, two conversations, and eight short essays composed in response to historical texts written by filmmakers. The historical texts, half of which are published in English for the first time, appear alongside the essays.  

Contributors 
Helena Amiradżibi, Madeleine Bernstorff, Teresa Castro, Counter Encounters (Laura Huertas Millán, Onyeka Igwe, Rachael Rakes), Ayanna Dozier, Forough Farrokhzad, Safi Faye, Devika Girish, Elena Gorfinkel, Haneda Sumiko, Shai Heredia, Juliet Jacques, Sarah Keller, Nzingha Kendall, Julia Lesage, Beatrice Loayza, Janaína Oliveira, Lakshmi Padmanabhan, Yasmina Price, Elizabeth Ramírez-Soto, Pooja Rangan, Lis Rhodes, Sara Saljoughi, Rasha Salti, Isabel Seguí, Chick Strand, Monika Talarczyk, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Françoise Vergès, Claudia von Alemann, Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano, Shilyh Warren, Giovanna Zapperi

Paper Revolutions
Sarah E. James
The MIT Press - 35.00€ -

The experimental practices of a group of artists in the former East Germany upends assumptions underpinning Western art's postwar histories.

In Paper Revolutions, Sarah James offers a radical rethinking of experimental art in the former East Germany (the GDR). Countering conventional accounts that claim artistic practices in the GDR were isolated and conservative, James introduces a new narrative of neo-avantgarde practice in the Eastern Bloc that subverts many of the assumptions underpinning Western art's postwar histories. She grounds her argument in the practice of four artists who, uniquely positioned outside academies, museums, and the art market, as these functioned in the West, created art in the blind spots of state censorship. They championed ephemeral practices often marginalized by art history: postcards and letters, maquettes and models, portfolios and artist's books. Through their “lived modernism,” they produced bodies of work animated by the radical legacies of the interwar avant-garde.

James examines the work and daily practices of the constructivist graphic artist, painter, and sculptor Hermann Glöckner; the experimental graphic artist and concrete and sound poet Carlfriedrich Claus; the mail artist, concrete poet, and conceptual artist Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt; and the mail artist, “visual poet,” and installation artist Karla Sachse. She shows that all of these artists rejected the idea of art as a commodity or a rarefied object, and instead believed in the potential of art to create collectivized experiences and change the world. James argues that these artists, entirely neglected by Western art history, produced some of the most significant experimental art to emerge from Germany during the Cold War.

Sex Ecologies
Stefanie Hessler (ed.)
The MIT Press - 30.00€ -  out of stock

Sex Ecologies explores pleasure, affect, and the powers of the erotic in the human and more-than-human worlds. Arguing for the positive and constructive role of sex in ecology and art practice, these texts and artistic research projects attempt nothing short of reclaiming the sexual from Western erotophobia and heteronormative narratives of nature and reproduction. The artists and writers set out to examine queer ecology through the lens of environmental humanities, investigating the fluid boundaries between bodies (both human and nonhuman), between binary conceptions of nature as separate from culture, and between disciplines.

In newly commissioned texts from such writers as Mel Y. Chen and Jack Halberstam and a selection of influential essays—including an annotated version of Audre Lorde's “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power”—as well as images and sketches from works in progress by a diverse group of artists, Sex Ecologiescombines insights from the fields of art, environmental humanities, ecofeminism, gender studies, science, technology, political science, and indigenous studies.

Sex Ecologies, which accompanies an exhibition of the same name at Kunsthall Trondheim, emerges from an arts-driven research project collaboratively developed between the art center and the Seed Box environmental humanities collaboratory. Conceived not as a result but as a seed arising from this transdisciplinary fertilization, the volume presents a case for the role of sex in environmental and social justice.

Contributors:

Katja Aglert,Tarsh Bates, adrienne maree brown, Mel Y. Chen, Pauline Doutreluingne, Léuli Eshrāghi, Jes Fan, Ibrahim Fazlic, Jack Halberstam, niilas helander, Stefanie Hessler, Jenny Hval, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Jessie Kleemann, Audre Lorde, Nina Lykke, Montserrat Madariaga-Caro, Camila Marambio, Astrida Neimanis, Pedro Neves Marques, Okwui Okpokwasili, Marie Helene Pereira, Margrethe Pettersen, Laure Prouvost, Filipa Ramos, Catriona Sandilands, Sami Schalk, Serubiri Moses, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens, Kim TallBear, Anna Tje, Alberta Whittle, Victoria Wibeck, Elvia Wilk

Copublished with Kunsthall Trondheim (Norway) and the Seed Box (Sweden)

What Is Sex?
Alenka Zupančič
The MIT Press - 22.50€ -  out of stock

Why sexuality is at the point of a "short circuit" between ontology and epistemology.

Consider sublimation, conventionally understood as a substitute satisfaction for missing sexual satisfaction. But what if, as Lacan claims, we can get exactly the same satisfaction that we get from sex from talking (or writing, painting, praying, or other activities)? The point is not to explain the satisfaction from talking by pointing to its sexual origin, but that the satisfaction from talking is itself sexual. The satisfaction from talking contains a key to sexual satisfaction (and not the other way around), even a key to sexuality itself and its inherent contradictions. The Lacanian perspective would make the answer to the simple-seeming question, "What is sex?" rather more complex. In this volume in the Short Circuits series, Alenka Zupančič approaches the question from just this perspective, considering sexuality a properly philosophical problem for psychoanalysis; and by psychoanalysis, she means that of Freud and Lacan, not that of the kind of clinician practitioners called by Lacan "orthopedists of the unconscious."

Zupančič argues that sexuality is at the point of a "short circuit" between ontology and epistemology. Sexuality and knowledge are structured around a fundamental negativity, which unites them at the point of the unconscious. The unconscious (as linked to sexuality) is the concept of an inherent link between being and knowledge in their very negativity.

Extraterrestrial Languages
Daniel Oberhaus
The MIT Press - 25.00€ -  out of stock

If we send a message into space, will extraterrestrial beings receive it? Will they understand?

The endlessly fascinating question of whether we are alone in the universe has always been accompanied by another, more complicated one: if there is extraterrestrial life, how would we communicate with it? In this book, Daniel Oberhaus leads readers on a quest for extraterrestrial communication. Exploring Earthlings' various attempts to reach out to non-Earthlings over the centuries, he poses some not entirely answerable questions: If we send a message into space, will extraterrestrial beings receive it? Will they understand? What languages will they (and we) speak? Is there not only a universal grammar (as Noam Chomsky has posited), but also a grammar of the universe?

Oberhaus describes, among other things, a late-nineteenth-century idea to communicate with Martians via Morse code and mirrors; the emergence in the twentieth century of SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence), CETI (communication with extraterrestrial intelligence), and finally METI (messaging extraterrestrial intelligence); the one-way space voyage of Ella, an artificial intelligence agent that can play cards, tell fortunes, and recite poetry; and the launching of a theremin concert for aliens. He considers media used in attempts at extraterrestrial communication, from microwave systems to plaques on spacecrafts to formal logic, and discusses attempts to formulate a language for our message, including the Astraglossa and two generations of Lincos (lingua cosmica).

The chosen medium for interstellar communication reveals much about the technological sophistication of the civilization that sends it, Oberhaus observes, but even more interesting is the information embedded in the message itself. In Extraterrestrial Languages, he considers how philosophy, linguistics, mathematics, science, and art have informed the design or limited the effectiveness of our interstellar messaging.

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