9781844676903%20artificial%20hells

Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship

A searing critique of participatory art by an iconoclastic historian.

Since the 1990s, critics and curators have broadly accepted the notion that participatory art is the ultimate political art: that by encouraging an audience to take part an artist can promote new emancipatory social relations. Around the world, the champions of this form of expression are numerous, ranging from art historians such as Grant Kester, curators such as Nicolas Bourriaud and Nato Thompson, to performance theorists such as Shannon Jackson.

Artificial Hells is the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art, known in the US as “social practice.” Claire Bishop follows the trajectory of twentieth-century art and examines key moments in the development of a participatory aesthetic. This itinerary takes in Futurism and Dada; the Situationist International; Happenings in Eastern Europe, Argentina and Paris; the 1970s Community Arts Movement; and the Artists Placement Group. It concludes with a discussion of long-term educational projects by contemporary artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Tania Bruguera, Paweł Althamer and Paul Chan.

Since her controversial essay in Artforum in 2006, Claire Bishop has been one of the few to challenge the political and aesthetic ambitions of participatory art. In Artificial Hells, she not only scrutinizes the emancipatory claims made for these projects, but also provides an alternative to the ethical (rather than artistic) criteria invited by such artworks. Artificial Hells calls for a less prescriptive approach to art and politics, and for more compelling, troubling and bolder forms of participatory art and criticism.

Reviews

  • “Claire Bishop has articulated an important historical overview of the global emergence of participatory art...Her controversial and thought-provoking conclusions courageously trouble our assumptions about the effectiveness of political artworks, questioning their oppositional quality, their effects on the audiences they reach, and their relation to the institutions that promote them.”
  • “Bishop’s arguments are convincingly supported and potentially very contentious…A critically challenging work of vital scholarship.”
  • “An essential title for contemporary art history scholars and students as well as anyone who has witnessed a participatory art 'happening' and thought, 'Now that's art!' or 'That's art?'”
  • “Bishop seeks a standard for judging participatory works…She draws on the writings of French philosopher Jacques Rancière to argue that art must maintain a degree of autonomy and unreadability in order to resist co-option by the political and economic forces intent on imposing a false social consensus.”
  • “Pellucid”
  • “The good intentions of contemporary artists frequently pave a road to hell. Claire Bishop follows their descent into the inferno and invites her readers to share her fascination with what she finds along the way. Artificial Hells combines vast historical knowledge with a precise analysis of individual artistic practices. So much so that at the end of her new book we have begun to fall in love with hell – under the condition that it remains artificial.”

Blog

  • Buy direct from Verso's website

    THE SALE HAS NOW FINISHED.

    Thanks for all your support - the sale has been a tremendous success and we hope that everyone enjoys their books! Thank you for supporting independent publishers.

    Please continue to support us and come back to our website for special offers, news on new titles and events, and original pieces from our authors. If you sign up to our email list you will get advance notice of any offers and new titles.

    And sorry, sorry, sorry to all our Canadian customers. We thought we could ship to you but an insurmountable technical glitch meant that it wasn't possible. We're working on it and we have promised to do a special offer for our Canadian customers.

    ----

    We're delighted to announce that we are now selling books directly through our website - meaning that we can offer generous discounts and free postage & packing to our customers. In addition, and where available, for every print book you buy you will receive the bundled ebook for free! Over time you can build up your own library of ebooks, hosted on the site, available to re-download as you wish to any device.

    To celebrate the launch of our new online shop we will be discounting ALL BOOKS by 50% from the 8th-14th April - THE SALE IS NOW FINISHED.

    That means you can buy recent bestsellers such as Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work for only £4.49/$7.47; Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis for £4.49/$7.47; and Arun Kundnani's The Muslims Are Coming! for £7.49/$13.47 - with free postage and packing, worldwide.

    We’re proud that our radical publishing has stood the test of time and continues to go from strength to strength. We know that our core readership would like to support radical publishing directly, and we hope that this new approach will benefit our writers, readers, and others across the industry.

       

    Continue Reading

  • New Left Review — Issue 85 out now



    Continue Reading

  • New Left Review-issue 80 out now



    Continue Reading