20TH CENTURY MOVEMENTS

PUBLISHER
Inventory Press

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Hardcover, 7.5 x 9.75 in. / 208 pgs / 90 color.

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D.A.P. Exclusive
Catalog: FALL 2017 p. 157   

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ISBN 9781941753156 TRADE
List Price: $35.00 CDN $47.50

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BROWSE THE 2018 FALL CATALOG

From 'Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin' to 'The Swimming Pool in Photography' to 'Protest: The Aesthetics of Resistance,' with new monographs on Yayoi Kusama, Hilma af Klint, James Turrell and Jack Whitten, and announcing D.A.P. distribution for Glenstone Museum and SPBH Editions.

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A cheeky, yet pointed, critique of capitalism through text and image.
  • ABOUT THE BOOK: Accompanies pop up exhibition in Oakland CA The book treats capitalism as a historical phenomenon ,using art works, essays, comics, data and quotations from historical texts from Edward Said to President Nixon's Economic Advisor.
  • AUTHORS include: Lucy Lippard (born 1937) is an internationally known writer, art critic, activist and curator based in Galisteo NM. Lester K. Spence teaches at Johns Hopkins University. TJ Demos teaches at UC Santa Cruz, McKenzie Wark author of A Hacker Manifesto Julia Ott teaches at The New School. Jennifer Gonzales teaches at UCSC. Chiara Bottici teaches at UCSC.
  • PROMO: The Museum of Capitalism is open in Oakland CA through August 2017.

  

INVENTORY PRESS

Museum of Capitalism

Edited by FICTILIS. Text by Lucy Lippard, Lester K. Spence, T.J. Demos, Chantal Mouffe, McKenzie Wark, et al. Afterword by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Featured image is reproduced from 'Museum of Capitalism.'

The Museum of Capitalism in Oakland, California, treats capitalism as a historical phenomenon.

This speculative institution views the present and recent past from the implied perspective of a future society in which our economic and political system is memorialized, and subjected to the museological gaze. Sketches and renderings of exhibits and artifacts, combined with relevant quotations from historical sources, are interspersed with speculative essays on the intersections of ecology, race, museology, historiography, economics and politics. Included are representations of artworks and museum exhibits created by artists Oliver Ressler, Sayler/Morris, Dread Scott, Temporary Services, and others, original Isotype graphics drawn from the museum’s lexicon of “capitalisms,” and texts from Lucy Lippard, Lester K. Spence, T.J. Demos, Chantal Mouffe, McKenzie Wark and Kim Stanley Robinson, among others.


Featured image is reproduced from 'Museum of Capitalism.'

Museum of Capitalism

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FROM THE BOOK
“Too Soon?” by FICTILIS

After September 11th, 2001, and the near­instantaneous media saturation of local tragedies in the United States in the decades that followed, cautionary appeals for the postponement of comedy (sometimes in the form of premature announcements of the “death of irony”) became familiar. So too did mocking imitations of that very sentiment—with their own instantaneity. It was perhaps because the earnest appeals had a formulaic quality to them that the mockery of them was so swift, and yet the mockery also became formulaic, 
as mockery so often is. Both the cautionary and the mocking sentiments crystallized into a singular expression—“too soon.” It was often difficult to tease apart the earnest from the ironic in this expression, and in this sense, it captured what was an utterly contemporary relation to history.

The phrase had its own prehistory 
in the second half of the twentieth century, as the United States was learning to consume tragedies as mass media spectacles. Popular Tonight Show host Johnny Carson used it as part of a running gag that started with an unpopular joke referring to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. When the audience fell silent, or mustered only tepid laughter, Carson remarked to his sidekick 
Ed McMahon, “it’s too soon.” After each subsequent attempted but unsuccessful Lincoln joke, the expression “see, it’s too soon” effectively became the punch-line, adding a level of detachment
 that somehow redeemed it. Although the historical tragedy of Lincoln’s assassination was over 100 years old,
 it remained sensitive to American audiences, though not so sensitive that the tragedy couldn’t be instantly spun back into comedy by a seasoned professional like Carson. In the meta­joke about a joke, the original joke is no longer a joke, but a retelling of the tragedy which is instrumentalized as part of the routine.

The expression became a kind of shorthand among comedians to refer to jokes about sensitive events, until it entered into popular usage following the accelerated cycles of tragedy and media coverage of the early twenty­first century. The authority on early twenty­first century slang UrbanDictionary.com has an entry tagged “#controversial #unbelievable #inbadtaste #not cool,” in which a user named Attomar posts a definition for “too soon”:

A phrase used to respond to someone making a comment that was intended to be funny, but touches on subject matter that shouldn’t be joked about, usually because it was a recent event.

Attomar’s usage example references
 the recent death of Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin, aka “The Crocodile Hunter,” who was pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming an underwater documentary.

person1: Ah man, i didn’t study for the final.
I’m gonna fail for sure.

person2: Dude, you’re screwed like Steve
Irwin in a tank of stingrays.

person1: Too soon.

The definition refers to things that “shouldn’t be joked about.” And yet, as the usage example suggests, this phrase is usually said sarcastically, in 
a joking manner. That is, the very injunction against joking is presented as a joke: I’m joking that you shouldn’t be joking. The speaker doesn’t really believe that it is too soon. If they did, they wouldn’t make the joke.

The force of the joke comes from 
a kind of performance of historical tragedy, from “playing the victim.”
In this exaggerated performance, the joker is affirming their own distance from the tragedy itself, from feelings of its severity and from their status 
as victims or as persons in some kind of empathy or solidarity with actual victims. Or as the kind of person who would ever voice such a concern in earnest, about the event in question or by extension any other. And the person being mocked is not the person who
is accused of saying something “too soon,” but the person who would take such an accusation seriously, that is, the victims of tragedy and those who would take the victims seriously.

We are already adept at this. We perform historical tragedy when we do not identify as its victims. Trying on the role of victim, we reveal the naked desperation of our irony and our aloofness, our actual distance from historical agency.

Joking is about testing the personal limits of what we care about and what we don’t, in reaction to oppressive conditions. It can also be about changing those limits, or enduring, if not changing, those conditions. Among the things we should “never forget” is that, for prisoners in German concentration camps during the Holocaust, joking was, as one survivor put it, “what kept us alive.”

And yet, joking has a strange relation to history, and the element of time complicates things. It was the first host of the Tonight Show, Steve Allen, who first uttered the formula, “comedy is tragedy plus time.” Psychologists studying the problem of when tragedies become appropriate subject matter for humor have noted that distance in space also makes a difference, so that
 a tragedy might be said to have a kind of epicenter, radiating out from which humor becomes more and more acceptable. But feelings of the severity of tragedy can overcome even the longest distances in space or in time.

Joking aside, more serious debates about the appropriate timing of actions coming after tragedies tend to cluster around the act of memorializing. Memorializing being a kind of reliving of tragedy that is supposed to bear
 no traces of joking. And yet, the resemblance is uncanny, and the same dynamics are at play: the detachment, the performance, the thin line between comedy and tragedy. Whether we see things one way or another depends
 on where we see ourselves across that line in space, or along that timeline. And maybe the most comic thing, or the most tragic thing, and the reason it’s so difficult to tell the difference,
 is that both—as Marx reminds us—may just be history repeating itself.

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