Midnight: The Tempest Essays, the second book in Molly Nesbit’s Pre-Occupations series, returns the question of pragmatism to the everyday critical practice of the art historian working in the late 20th century. These essays take their cues from the work of specific artists and writers, beginning in the late 1960s, a time when critical commentary found itself in a political and philosophical crisis.
Illustrated case studies on Eugène Atget, Marcel Duchamp, Jean-Luc Godard, Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler, Rachel Whiteread, Gabriel Orozco, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Lawrence Weiner, Nancy Spero, Rem Koolhaas, Martha Rosler, Gerhard Richter, Matthew Barney and Richard Serra, among others, continue the legacy of a pragmatism that has endured while debates over postmodernism and French philosophy raged.
Molly Nesbit is Professor in the Department of Art at Vassar College and a contributing editor of Artforum. Since 2002, together with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rirkrit Tiravanija, she has curated Utopia Station, a collective and ongoing book, exhibition, seminar, website and street project (in Poughkeepsie, Frankfurt, Venice, Munich, Porto Alegre and, next, the Brooklyn Museum). Her books include Atget’s Seven Albums (Yale University Press, 1992) and Their Common Sense (Black Dog, 2000). The Pragmatism in the History of Art (Periscope, 2013) was the first volume of Pre-Occupations, a series collecting her essays.