Kemuro Read, highlight, and take notes, across web, tablet, and phone. In this volume of selected essays, interviews, curatorial texts and reviews, spanningJoshua Decter examines contemporary art in relation to its various ideological, public, discursive, and social contexts. Text by Sven Spieker. Text by Jeff Derksen. Translated by Katherine Silver. Accordingly, he questions contemplative aesthetics and the baggage that goes with it — quality, authorship, connoisseurship, and autonomy.

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Edited by John Miller. Published by JRP Ringier, Curator, art critic, and writer Joshua Decter US has been working with contemporary art — and what he finds problematic with it — for nearly three decades.

Earlier this year a collection of his selected essays, criticism, interviews and curatorial projects produced between was published. The book is appropriately titled Art is a Problem, and delves into several aspects of his work.

Contemporary art circulates in an insular system where all institutional critique and attempts to break free from current power relations and hegemonic structures are inevitably swallowed and reproduced within the same system. Through a wide range of reviews, previously published in various art magazines, he gives concrete examples on how art still has the power to critique, make waves and raise awareness.

The book includes a text on the project stazione by artist Emily Jacir pp. In this short text, Decter interestingly reveals how a relatively small art project could upend established notions to such a degree that local authorities actually chose to censor a project that was part of one of the largest and most historically important international art events — in the year of As the book is a selection of different types of texts spanning over 20 years of cultural practice, it touches upon many trends and shifts in the artistic and theoretical field.

All through which Decter questions his own motivations as a white, male art critic to write these texts and his ability to actually reach out beyond an academic discourse. In his writing on public art for example, he does not only discuss various projects that attempt to transform our experience and understanding of urban spaces, but also gets into questions on what it actually means for artists today to intervene in the public arena, and what public space actually is.

What logics of inclusion and exclusion are active in these projects and how can one avoid the structural conditions that seem to be continually reproduced, thus maintaining the normative systems?

Throughout the book the more theoretical and philosophical texts where Decter makes heavy use of the critical and social theories of scholars such as Adorno, Baudrillard, Foucault and Said in combination with art historians and critics such as Benjamin Buchloh, Michele Wallace and Hal Foster are combined with short reviews and critiques that illustrate the points and reflections raised in the more abstract texts.

All in all, the book raises more questions than it answers. By Joshua Decter. Image courtesy of JRP Ringier. Joshua Decter. Image from artlyst. Related articles:.



Art—however we may choose to define, de-define, re-define, or un-define it—is on the verge of becoming so thoroughly assimilated into, or integrated within, global social, economic, ideological, and institutional networks that it may no longer be able to pose any problems to those systems. As a result, art seems increasingly insulated from deeply critical questions that would seriously compromise its validity or value. A more difficult question to consider is whether art ever did pose any problems—and what criteria or metric would we use to measure this? Yes, there are circumstances in which art has surfaced as a vehicle of dissent, resistance, protest, opposition—seeking to question power and authority, intolerance and repression, and economic and social injustice. Yet, paradoxically, the more tolerant or liberal a society becomes, the more art becomes a naturalized, normative element within an environment of unfettered and perhaps increasingly undifferentiated creative production. At the same time, we might say that art embodies these self-same contradictions.


Art Is a Problem


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