Category Archives: Criticism

Wallis on Race and Typological Photography

“By supplying an overabundance of information, photography confuses and problematizes its message; it creates what author Roland Barthes calls a “reality effect,” a semblance of realism bound to detail. In nineteenth-century parlance, two technical words gained a certain currency to describe how “reality”was construed: the word daguerreotype was distinguished from the word stereotype. Stereotypes were originally molds for creating multiple copies of printing type; the word, therefore, came to connote generalized replication. The daguerreotype, on the… Continue reading

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Foster on the Primitive

“Historically, the primitive is articulated by the west in deprivative or supplemental terms: as a spectacle of savagery or as a state of grace, as a socius without writing or the Word, history or cultural complexity or as a site… Continue reading

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Enwezor on Simpson, the American Sublime and the Racial Self

“There is in ‘the mythology of madness’ the oft repeated story of radical therapy effect by Phillipe Pinel when he released the madmen and madwomen from their chains in Bicêtre and Salpêtrière hospitals in Paris in 1794. Pinel’s freeing of… Continue reading

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Ricoeur on Plurality, Culture and The Other

“When we discover that there are several cultures instead of just one and consequently at the time when we acknowledge the end of a sort of cultural monopoly, be it illusory or real, we are threatened with the destruction of… Continue reading

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Rice on Secular (Consumerist) Culture

“Unlike Vodou worshippers in Haiti, we in contemporary America acknowledge no deities; we deny a pantheon of supernatural beings who determine our destinies, who have the power to “possess” our bodies or intervene in our lives. In our denial, we… Continue reading

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Solnit on the Desert

“The Holy Land belongs to the chosen people, but they have no talent for staying in it peacefully and are always shifting, struggling, splitting up, being cast out. For them the desert is an ambiguous zone: a place strangers, sinners,… Continue reading

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James on the typological work of the Bechers

“The Bechers’ rejection of the ideological and their refusal to depict the subject can be understood as a strategic refusal to participate in the photographic reification and ruin of subjectivity. Their reluctance to exert their artistic subjectivity, or to portray… Continue reading

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On Photography & Conceptual Art.

“Conceptual art and its theoretical framing would at one time have been construed as announcing the demise of the privilege, if not the bare sensory necessity, of the aesthetic reception of works of art, in so far as the locus… Continue reading

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Wall on the Readymade, Azoulay on the Museum.

“The Readymade did not and was not able to address itself to depiction; its concern is with the object, and so if we were to classify it within the canonical forms it would be sculpture. But no-one who has thought… Continue reading

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Steinberg against Formalism

“Given the complexity and infinite resonance of works of art, the stripping down of artistic value to the single determinant of formal organization was once—in the nineteenth century—a remarkable cultural achievement. The attempt was to discipline art criticism in the… Continue reading

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