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Inventory Press

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Hardcover, 6 x 9 in. / 304 pgs / 65 color / 40 bw.

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Catalog: SPRING 2017 p. 65   

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ISBN 9781941753149 TRADE
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INVENTORY PRESS

Midnight: The Tempest Essays

Pre-Occupations 2

By Molly Nesbit.

Featured image is reproduced from 'Midnight: The Tempest Essays.'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.

Featured image is reproduced from 'Midnight: The Tempest Essays.'

PRAISE AND REVIEWS

Hyperallergic

Edward M. Gómez

Nesbit’s approach can feel scientific and a bit free-associative at the same time. ..she combine[s] the spirit of natural-history research — turning over rocks in search of clues — with that of poetry...

Midnight: The Tempest Essays

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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 7/28/2017

Summer Reading: Midnight: The Tempest Essays by Molly Nesbit

Summer Reading: Midnight: The Tempest Essays by Molly Nesbit

Two spreads from Midnight: The Tempest Essays, the second in Molly Nesbit's Pre-Occupations series. This essay, “Without Walls,” begins with the tantalizing first lines, “In Buffalo, while still in art school, Cindy Sherman sat down in a photo booth and gave the camera a look. She came up under Lucille Ball’s face so successfully that her own face subsided. Most people her age were swimming in another direction, preferring the pond of their own individual non-conformity. Hers was a different, though still contrary position: in short, the negative of your negative is my Lucy.” continue to blog


FROM THE BOOK
Excerpt from the essay, What Was An Author?

The French definition of the author has gone vague: the author is a general case, an orphan, some say corpse. It is a definition too diffuse to be useful; worse, it has stripped the author of distinction. As if in flight from such a fate, lately French authors
have become authors by doing other things besides write; they
may make music, television appearances, psychoanalysis, Sartres, maps. Whatever the result, it is literally diffused, scattered across
the immense accumulation of spectacles, the “magazine covers, illustrations, ads, slick and pulp fiction, comics, Tin Pan Alley music, tap dancing, Hollywood movies, etc.,” Clement Greenberg’s kitsch. Those who go looking for authors must devise the means by which to recognize not only the worker but the work; at some point, perhaps by night, culture was camouflaged.

The situation of positive unclarity regarding the author has given rise to a growing body of criticism, full of dire pronouncements about the plight of culture, author death and postmodern conditions; apocalypse weighs on the wind. It might seem peculiar to be proposing that all of this, apocalypse too, be projected backward but in fact the conditions of bourgeois culture have not changed all that much in the past two hundred years. Bourgeois culture was always a little too crude to be believed. Many have despaired.

Stéphane Mallarmé wrote a variation on the subject in 1895:

The pure work involves the disappearance of the voice of the poet, who cedes the initiative to words, mobilized by the clash of disparity; they illuminate each other in reciprocal reflections like a virtual spray of sparks on gems, replacing the respiration perceptible in ancient lyric breath or in the enthused, personal direction of the phrase.

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