A critical reading of the unstable structures that organize biological and social life
This timely and radically interdisciplinary volume uncovers the aesthetics and politics of infrastructure. From roads and bridges to harbors and canals, infrastructure is conventionally understood as the public works that allow for the circulation of capital. Yet this naturalized concept of infrastructure, driven by capital’s restless expansion, is haunted by imperial tendencies to occupy territory, extract resources, and organize life. Infrastructure thus undergirds the living nexus of modernity in an ongoing project of racialization, affective embodiment, and environmental praxis. Rather than merely making visible infrastructure’s modes of power, however, The Aesthetic Life of Infrastructure brings literary methods to bear on the interpretive terrain, reading infrastructural space and temporalities to show that their aesthetic and sensorial experience cannot be understood apart from histories of production and political economies.
Building on critical infrastructure studies in anthropology, geography, and media studies, this collection demonstrates the field’s vitality to scholars working across the humanities, including in literary, visual, and cultural studies. By querying the presumed invisibility of infrastructure’s hidden life, the volume’s contributors revitalize ongoing literary debates about reading surface and depth. How, they ask, might infrastructure and aesthetics then function as epistemic tools for rethinking each other? And what urgency do they acquire in light of current crises that bear on death, whether biological, social, or planetary?
Fernando J. Rosenberg explores Latin American artistic production concerned with the possibility of justice after the establishment, rise, and ebb of the human rights narrative around the turn of the last century. Prior to this, key literary and artistic projects articulated Latin American modernity by attempting to address and supplement the state’s inability to embody and enact justice.
Rosenberg argues that since the topics of emancipation, identity, and revolution no longer define social concerns, Latin American artistic production is now situated at a point where the logic and conditions of marketization intersect with the notion of rights through which subjects define themselves politically. Rosenberg grounds his study in discussions of literature, film, and visual art (novels of political refoundations, fictions of truth and reconciliation, visual arts based on cases of disappearance, films about police violence, artistic collaborations with police forces, and judicial documentaries). In doing so, he provides a highly original examination of the paradoxical demands on current artistic works to produce both capital value and foster human dignity.
In Allegories of the Anthropocene Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey traces how indigenous and postcolonial peoples in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands grapple with the enormity of colonialism and anthropogenic climate change through art, poetry, and literature. In these works, authors and artists use allegory as a means to understand the multiscalar complexities of the Anthropocene and to critique the violence of capitalism, militarism, and the postcolonial state. DeLoughrey examines the work of a wide range of artists and writers—including poets Kamau Brathwaite and Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Dominican installation artist Tony Capellán, and authors Keri Hulme and Erna Brodber—whose work addresses Caribbean plantations, irradiated Pacific atolls, global flows of waste, and allegorical representations of the ocean and the island. In examining how island writers and artists address the experience of finding themselves at the forefront of the existential threat posed by climate change, DeLoughrey demonstrates how the Anthropocene and empire are mutually constitutive and establishes the vital importance of allegorical art and literature in understanding our global environmental crisis.
Portraits. We know what they are, but why do we make them? Americans have been celebrating themselves in portraits since the arrival of the first itinerant portrait painters to the colonies. They created images to commemorate loved ones, glorify the famous, establish our national myths, and honor our shared heroes. Whether painting in oil, carving in stone, casting in bronze, capturing on film, or calculating in binary code, we spend considerable time creating, contemplating, and collecting our likenesses. In this sumptuously illustrated book, Richard H. Saunders explores our collective understanding of portraiture, its history in America, how it shapes our individual and national identity, and why we make portraits—whether for propaganda and public influence or for personal and private appreciation. American Faces is a rich and fascinating view of ourselves.
The story of the “American Mediterranean,” both an idea and a shorthand popularized by geographers, historians, novelists, and travel writers from the early nineteenth century to the 1970s.
The naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, visiting the Gulf-Caribbean in the early nineteenth century, called it America’s Mediterranean. Almost a century later, Southern California was hailed as “Our Mediterranean, Our Italy!” Although “American Mediterranean” is not a household phrase in the United States today, it once circulated widely in French, Spanish, and English as a term of art and folk idiom. In this book, Susan Gillman asks what cultural work is done by this kind of unsystematic, open-ended comparative thinking.
American Mediterraneans tracks two centuries of this geohistorical concept, from Humboldt in the early 1800s, to writers of the 1890s reflecting on the Pacific world of the California coast, to writers of the 1930s and 40s speculating on the political past and future of the Caribbean. Following the term through its travels across disciplines and borders, American Mediterraneans reveals a little-known racialized history, one that paradoxically appealed to a range of race-neutral ideas and ideals.
The Pueblo IV period (AD 1275–1600) witnessed dramatic changes in regional settlement patterns and social configurations across the ancestral Pueblo Southwest. Early in this interval, Pueblo potters began making distinctive polychrome vessels, often decorated with technologically innovative glaze paints. Archaeologists have linked these ceramic innovations with the introduction of new ideologies and religious practices to the area. This research explores interaction networks among residents of settlement clusters in the Zuni region of westcentral New Mexico during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries AD. Using multiple analytical techniques, this research provides a case study for documenting multiple scales of interaction in prehistory. Ceramicists will find a wealth of technological and contextual data on glaze-decorated pottery, and archaeologists interested in power and leadership in ancestral Pueblo societies will be intrigued by the implication that strategies like the manipulation of interpueblo alliances or control over long-distance resources may have been used to concentrate social power.
An essential African American artist of his era, Archibald Motley Jr. created paintings of black Chicago that aligned him with the revisionist aims of the New Negro Renaissance. Yet Motley's approach to constructing a New Negro--a dignified figure both accomplished and worthy of respect--reflected the challenges faced by African American artists working on the project of racial reinvention and uplift.
Phoebe Wolfskill demonstrates how Motley's art embodied the tenuous nature of the Black Renaissance and the wide range of ideas that structured it. Focusing on key works in Motley's oeuvre, Wolfskill reveals the artist's complexity and the variety of influences that informed his work. Motley’s paintings suggest that the racist, problematic image of the Old Negro was not a relic of the past but an influence that pervaded the Black Renaissance. Exploring Motley in relation to works by notable black and non-black contemporaries, Wolfskill reinterprets Motley's oeuvre as part of a broad effort to define American cultural identity through race, class, gender, religion, and regional affiliation.
The Art of I. Denton
Ivan Denton University of Arkansas Press, 1988 Library of Congress NK9798.D46A4 1988 | Dewey Decimal 730.924
Art Quilts the Midwest
Linzee Kull McCray University of Iowa Press, 2015 Library of Congress NK9112.M295 2015 | Dewey Decimal 746.460977
A milestone in perception occurred in 1971, when the Whitney Museum of American Art displayed quilts in a museum setting: Abstract Design in American Quilts bestowed institutional recognition of the artistry inherent in these humble textiles. In subsequent decades, quilting’s popularity exploded. Some who took up quilting created pieced quilts that honored traditional patterns, symmetry, and repetition. But others saw the potential for pushing beyond patchwork, giving birth to the art quilt. Today, adherents from both art and quilting backgrounds incorporate storytelling, digital images, nonfabric materials, asymmetry, and three dimensions—in short, anything goes in the world of art quilting, as long as the result is stitched, layered, and not primarily functional.
As a writer covering textiles, art, and craft, Linzee Kull McCray wondered just how deeply fiber artists were influenced by their surroundings. Focusing on midwestern art quilters in particular, she put out a call for entries and nearly 100 artists responded; they were free to define those aspects of midwesterness that most affected their work. The artists selected for inclusion in this book embrace the Midwest’s climate, land, people, and culture, and if they don’t always embrace it wholeheartedly, then they use their art to react to it. The proof can be seen in the varied, powerful quilts in this energizing book.
Enlivened by the Midwest’s landscapes and seasons, Sally Bowker paints her fabrics with acrylics, creating marks and meaning with layers of hand stitching and appliqued bits of fabric. Shin-hee Chin uses sketchlike stitching for its ability to penetrate fabric and create depth; living in the Midwest helps her stay balanced between eastern philosophy and western culture. The metals and mesh that Diane Núñez incorporates into her quilts connect to her days as a jeweler as well as to the topography of her home state of Michigan. Pat Owoc prepares papers with disperse dyes, then selects from as many as 150 to create her fabrics; her art-quilt series honors midwestern pioneers. Martha Warshaw photographs old fabrics, tweaks the images in Photoshop, and prints the results for her pieces, which connect her to the legacy of quilting in past generations.
The Midwest has always had strong textile communities. Now the twenty artists featured in this beautifully illustrated book have created a new community of original art forms that bring new life to an old tradition.
Marilyn Ampe, St. Paul, Minnesota
Gail Baar, Buffalo Grove, Illinois
Sally Bowker, Cornucopia, Wisconsin
Peggy Brown, Nashville, Indiana
Shelly Burge, Lincoln, Nebraska
Shin-hee Chin, McPherson, Kansas
Sandra Palmer Ciolino, Cincinnati, Ohio
Jacquelyn Gering, Chicago, Illinois
Kate Gorman, Westerville, Ohio
Donna Katz, Chicago, Illinois
Beth Markel, Rochester Hills, Michigan
Diane Núñez, Southfield, Michigan
Pat Owoc, St. Louis, Missouri
BJ Parady, Batavia, Illinois
Bonnie Peterson, Houghton, Michigan
Luanne Rimel, St. Louis, Missouri
Barbara Schneider, Woodstock, Illinois
Susan Shie, Wooster, Ohio
Martha Warshaw, Cincinnati, Ohio
Erick Wolfmeyer, Iowa City, Iowa
In Art, Space, Ecology, internationally renowned curator and critic John K. Grande interviews twenty major contemporary artists whose works engage with the natural environment. Whether their medium is sculpture, nature interventions, performance, body art, or installation, these discussions, complemented by eighty stunning photographs, reveal the artists’ diverse backgrounds and methods, expressions and realizations.Ultimately, the natural world serves as a canvas to explore the intersections of art, space, and the environment, thereby raising questions about our relationship with landscape itself. The essence of the art form is a dynamic interactivity, and the dialogues between Grande and the artists mirror the encounter of object and environment, artist and audience, society and nature. This work is rounded out with an engaging introduction by writer and curator Edward Lucie-Smith, who sets the stage for some of the most insightful and compelling discussions on art to be found.
Tracing the evolution of the Italian avant-garde’s pioneering experiments with art and technology and their subversion of freedom and control
In postwar Italy, a group of visionary artists used emergent computer technologies as both tools of artistic production and a means to reconceptualize the dynamic interrelation between individual freedom and collectivity. Working contrary to assumptions that the rigid, structural nature of programming limits subjectivity, this book traces the multifaceted practices of these groundbreaking artists and their conviction that technology could provide the conditions for a liberated social life.
Situating their developments within the context of the Cold War and the ensuing crisis among the Italian left, Arte Programmata describes how Italy’s distinctive political climate fueled the group’s engagement with computers, cybernetics, and information theory. Creating a broad range of immersive environments, kinetic sculptures, domestic home goods, and other multimedia art and design works, artists such as Bruno Munari, Enzo Mari, and others looked to the conceptual frameworks provided by this new technology to envision a way out of the ideological impasses of the age.
Showcasing the ingenuity of Italy’s earliest computer-based art, this study highlights its distinguishing characteristics while also exploring concurrent developments across the globe. Centered on the relationships between art, technology, and politics, Arte Programmata considers an important antecedent to the digital age.
In the twenty-first century, we are continually confronted with the existential side of technology—the relationships between identity and the mechanizations that have become extensions of the self. Focusing on one of humanity’s most ubiquitous machines, Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art combines critical theory and new media theory to form the first philosophical analysis of the car within works of conceptual art. These works are broadly defined to encompass a wide range of creative expressions, particularly in car-based conceptual art by both older, established artists and younger, emerging artists, including Ed Ruscha, Martha Rosler, Richard Prince, Sylvie Fleury, Yael Bartana, Jeremy Deller, and Jonathan Schipper.
At its core, the book offers an alternative formation of conceptual art understood according to technology, the body moving through space, and what art historian, curator, and artist Jack Burnham calls “relations.” This thought-provoking study illuminates the ways in which the automobile becomes a naturalized extension of the human body, incarnating new forms of “car art” and spurring a technological reframing of conceptual art. Steeped in a sophisticated take on the image and semiotics of the car, the chapters probe the politics of materialism as well as high/low debates about taste, culture, and art. The result is a highly innovative approach to contemporary intersections of art and technology.