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Practice: Whitechapel Documents Of Contemporary Art Series

Marcus Boon and Gabriel Levine
MIT Press
14.6 × 21 cm
240 pp
Contemporary Art

“Practice” is one of the key words of contemporary art, used in contexts ranging from artists’ descriptions of their practice to curatorial practice, from social practice to practice-based research. This is the first anthology to investigate what contemporary notions of practice mean for art, tracing their development and speculating on where this leads.

Reframing the question of practice offers new ways of reading the history of art and of evaluating particular forms of practice-based art. Once used to denote “doing,” as distinct from thinking and making, today the term can convey associations of political action (praxis), professional activity, discipline, or rehearsal, and signal a shift away from the self-enclosed artwork or medium to open-ended actions, series, processes, and projects. Although the turn to practice might promise freedom from finality or eventfulness, it also reflects the neoliberal pressures to train oneself, to perform, and to rehearse a marketable set of skills. This book offers an indispensible guide to the art history and theoretical framework of art-as-practice, clarifying the complex issues at stake in thinking about and enacting practice.

Artists surveyed include: Arakawa, Rebecca Belmore, AA Bronson, Judy Chicago, Lygia Clark, Andrea Fraser, Madeline Gins, Tehching Hsieh, Mary Kelly, Henri Michaux, Linda M. Montano, Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Adrian Piper, Raivo Puusemp, Rammellzee, Gerhard Richter, Miriam Schapiro, Carolee Schneemann, Gregory Sholette, Aliza Shvarts, Situationist International, Jonas Staal, Stelarc, Fiona Tan, Min Tanaka, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Cecilia Vicuña

Writers include: Kathy Acker, Giorgio Agamben, Louis Althusser, Hannah Arendt, Alain Badiou, Lauren Berlant, Gregg Bordowitz, Pierre Bourdieu, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Judith Butler, Jennifer Doyle, Okwui Enwezor, Saidiya V. Hartman, Maulana Karenga, Julia Kristeva, Saba Mahmood, Viktor Misiano, Fred Moten, Paul B. Preciado, Lane Relyea, Suely Rolnik, Peter Sloterdijk, Isabelle Stengers, Winnie Won Yin Wong

In 2006 London’s famous Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press formed an editorial alliance to produce a new series of books. Documents of Contemporary Art combines several features that do not often coincide in publishing: affordable paperback prices, good design, and impeccable editorial content. Each volume in the series is a definitive anthology on a particular theme, practice, or concern that is of central significance to contemporary visual culture. The artists and writers included in these books, like the guest editors who conceive them, represent the diversity of perspectives, generations, and voices defining art today.

  1. Practice

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