Julia Bryan-Wilson: Fray: Art and Textile Politics (2017)

25 March 2018, dusan

“In 1974, women in a feminist consciousness-raising group in Eugene, Oregon, formed a mock organization called the Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society. Emblazoning its logo onto t-shirts, the group wryly envisioned female collective textile making as a practice that could upend conventions, threaten state structures, and wreak political havoc. Elaborating on this example as a prehistory to the more recent phenomenon of “craftivism”—the politics and social practices associated with handmaking—Fray explores textiles and their role at the forefront of debates about process, materiality, gender, and race in times of economic upheaval.

Closely examining how amateurs and fine artists in the United States and Chile turned to sewing, braiding, knotting, and quilting amid the rise of global manufacturing, Julia Bryan-Wilson argues that textiles unravel the high/low divide and urges us to think flexibly about what the politics of textiles might be. Her case studies from the 1970s through the 1990s—including the improvised costumes of the theater troupe the Cockettes, the braided rag rugs of US artist Harmony Hammond, the thread-based sculptures of Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, the small hand-sewn tapestries depicting Pinochet’s torture, and the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt—are often taken as evidence of the inherently progressive nature of handcrafted textiles. Fray, however, shows that such methods are recruited to often ambivalent ends, leaving textiles very much “in the fray” of debates about feminized labor, protest cultures, and queer identities; the malleability of cloth and fiber means that textiles can be activated, or stretched, in many ideological directions.

The first contemporary art history book to discuss both fine art and amateur registers of handmaking at such an expansive scale, Fray unveils crucial insights into how textiles inhabit the broad space between artistic and political poles—high and low, untrained and highly skilled, conformist and disobedient, craft and art.”

Publisher University of California Press, 2017
ISBN 9780226077819, 0226077810
326 pages
via slowrotation

Review: Holland Cotter (New York Times, 2017).

Video interview with author (with Lynne Cooke, NGA, 60 min, 2017)

Publisher
WorldCat

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Boris Groys (ed.): Russian Cosmism (2018)

19 March 2018, dusan

“Cosmism emerged in Russia before the October Revolution and developed through the 1920s and 1930s; like Marxism and the European avant-garde, two other movements that shared this intellectual moment, Russian Cosmism rejected the contemplative for the transformative, aiming to create not merely new art or philosophy but a new world. Cosmism went the furthest in its visions of transformation, calling for the end of death, the resuscitation of the dead, and free movement in cosmic space. This volume collects crucial texts, many available in English for the first time, by the radical biopolitical utopianists of Russian Cosmism.

Cosmism was developed by the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov in the late nineteenth century; he believed that humans had an ethical obligation not only to care for the sick but to cure death using science and technology; outer space was the territory of both immortal life and infinite resources. After the revolution, a new generation pursued Fedorov’s vision. Cosmist ideas inspired visual artists, poets, filmmakers, theater directors, novelists (Tolstoy and Dostoevsky read Fedorov’s writings), architects, and composers, and influenced Soviet politics and technology. In the 1930s, Stalin quashed Cosmism, jailing or executing many members of the movement. Today, when the philosophical imagination has again become entangled with scientific and technological imagination, the works of the Russian Cosmists seem newly relevant.”

With texts by Alexander Bogdanov, Alexander Chizhevsky, Nikolai Fedorov, Boris Groys, Valerian Muravyev, Alexander Svyatogor, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Anton Vidokle, and Brian Kuan Wood.

Publisher e-flux, New York, and MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2018
ISBN 9780262037433, 0262037432
ix+249 pages

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Rosi Braidotti, Maria Hlavajova (eds.): Posthuman Glossary (2018)

8 March 2018, dusan

“If art, science, and the humanities have shared one thing, it was their common engagement with constructions and representations of the human. Under the pressure of new contemporary concerns, however, we are experiencing a “posthuman condition”; the combination of new developments–such as the neoliberal economics of global capitalism, migration, technological advances, environmental destruction on a mass scale, the perpetual war on terror and extensive security systems–with a troublesome reiteration of old, unresolved problems that mean the concept of the human as we had previously known it has undergone dramatic transformations.

The Posthuman Glossary> is a volume providing an outline of the critical terms of posthumanity in present-day artistic and intellectual work. It builds on the broad thematic topics of Anthropocene/Capitalocene, eco-sophies, digital activism, algorithmic cultures and security and the inhuman. It outlines potential artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries of working through the complex reality of the ‘posthuman condition’, and creates an understanding of the altered meanings of art vis-à-vis critical present-day developments. It bridges missing links across disciplines, terminologies, constituencies and critical communities. This original work will unlock the terms of the posthuman for students and researchers alike.”

Publisher Bloomsbury Academic, 2018
Theory series
ISBN 1350030252, 9781350030251
xxxii+538 pages

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