Claire Bishop

Claire Bishop is Associate Professor in the History of Art department at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York. She is the author of Installation Art: A Critical History; Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship; and editor of Participation. in 2008 she co-curated the exhibition “Double Agent” at the ICA. She is a regular contributor to Artforum, October, Tate Etc, IDEA, and other international art magazines.


  • Claire Bishop takes on New Media in this month's Artforum

    In Artforum's current 50th Anniversary issue, Claire Bishop, author of the recently published Artificial Hells, contributes a controversial and widely discussed article as part of a centerpiece series of essays on New Media. In her sharp-eyed critique, Bishop questions whether, after all this time, mainstream artists have actually embraced technology or simply utilized it to alter their production habits. "While many artists use digital technology," Bishop asks, "how many really confront the question of what it means to think, see, and filter affect through the digital? How many thematize this, or reflect deeply on how we experience, and are altered by, the digitization of our existence?"

    Bishop examines a number of practices, from the nostalgic fixation on celluloid ("Today, no exhibition is complete without some form of bulky, obsolete technology") to a reliance on reactive "non-Google methodologies":

    ... Mainstream contemporary art simultaneously disavows and depends on the digital revolution, even—especially—when this art declines to speak overtly about the conditions of living in and through new media.

    Visit Artforum to read the article in full.

  • Claire Bishop interviewed in the Boston Review

    Last week, Corinne Segal interviewed Claire Bishop, author of Artificial Hells, for the Boston Review. In the course of their conversation, Bishop speaks to the lack of a critical language to describe “participatory art” as it is currently manifested here and in the UK, a void she attempted to fill with her book:

    Social practice’s identification with ethics and politics should lead us to ask what’s prompting its allergy to the aesthetic. I’ve already mentioned the art market as a system with which many artists do not identify; this represents a bigger problem, which is a widespread dissatisfaction with free market capitalism and the inequality and disempowerment it produces. I think social practice also says something about our relationship to technology. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that social practice arises simultaneously with the digital revolution. Face-to-face relationships are becoming important as we spend more and more time online.

    Bishop also discusses her larger aim “to question the use of political art as a substitute for political engagement” and emphasizes the relationship between media attention and political impact– as, she notes, can be seen in the case of Pussy Riot. 

    “Ideally,” she says, “we should always read art dually, in relation to its artistic context and its political context…This isn’t relativism, but a call for historical specificity.” 

    Visit the Boston Review to read the article in full.  

  • All the world's a stage... No, really — Claire Bishop on participatory art and Artificial Hells

    Claire Bishop, author of Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, writes for the Guardian this week on the history and current popularity of participatory art. Bishop contextualises where Tino Sehgal’s latest work These Associations, which opened to the public this week as the 13th Unilever Commission in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern gallery in London. 

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