Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship

Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship

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By (author) Claire Bishop

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  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Format: Paperback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 228mm x 25mm | 612g
  • Publication date: 4 July 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1844676900
  • ISBN 13: 9781844676903
  • Illustrations note: 100 colour illustrations
  • Sales rank: 18,571

Product description

For over a decade, conceptual and performance art has been dominated by participatory art. Its champions, such as French curator Nicolas Bourriaud (who invented the term `relational aesthetics` to describe it) and American art historian Grant Kester, believe that by encouraging an audience to join in, the artist can promote new emancipatory social relations. Artificial Hells is the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art. The book follows the trajectory of twentieth-century art and examines key moments in the development of the participatory aesthetic, in both Europe and America. This itinerary takes in Futurism, Dada, Situationism, Czechoslovakian Happenings, and Argentinean Conceptualism, and concludes with contemporary artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Tania Bruguera and Jeremy Deller. Since her controversial essay in Artforum in 2006, Claire Bishop has been one of the few to expose the political and aesthetic limitations of this work. In Artificial Hells she not only scrutinizes the claims for democracy and emancipation that the artists and critics make for the work, but also questions the turn to ethical (rather than artistic) criteria invited by such participatory and collaborative art.

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Author information

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 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.

Review quote

Praise for Installation Art: `A profound understanding of the subject ... Rather than being a bland survey, it is critical and breaks new interpretative ground.` Margaret Iversen, University of Essex `An essential purchase and recommended reading - an important contribution to the field.` Michael Newman, The Art Institute of Chicago `An excellent introduction.` Amy Weiss, Library Journal Reviews