By now, the proofs of two long-gestating book projects have almost been fully proofread and should be ready to go into print at the beginning of 2022—if there are printers who have the needed paper and labour-power, which is is a bit of an issue at the moment. Some further delays would be in keeping with these projects. I submitted the complete first draft of the Art and Autonomy reader (published by Afterall) in 2014, and the project has lingered in a kind of financio-organizational development hell for years. In a bout of foolhardiness, or foolishness, I’d decided that the usual reader format of selected texts plus introduction would not do, instead creating a complex montage of shorter and longer fragments connected by editorial text throughout the volume. I’m glad it will finally see the light of day, but I try not to think of the absurd amount of (socially unnecessary) labour-time that Afterall’s editors and I sank into this endeavour.
The origins of my two-part book project Forms of Abstraction stretch back even further, but the first volume has only been delayed by two years or so. The edited manuscript of this volume, Objections, was about ready to go to the designer in early 2020, when Covid hit and the project was put on hold, to be reactivated this year. Forms of Abstraction is my project on art and forms of financial, juridical and technoscientific real abstraction. Objections, focuses on objecthood and thingness; its sequel, Personafications, will explore subjectivity and personhood. But that’s another story for another time; for now, I’m relieved that this first part is about to be materialized.
I have watched the rise of the cottage industry of reenactment studies with a certain bemusement. My own work of reenactment (with the 2005 exhibition Life, Once More: forms of reenactment in contemporary art) was always part of a wider set of inquiries not just into performance, but into historicity and historicism, futurity and potentiality. Some of that work can be found on the articles page, particularly in the sections “Futurity, Potentiality, Emergence and Divergence” and “Time, Moving Images and Performance.” I haven’t written much that deals directly with reenactment since 2005, but I gladly accepted an invitation to re-reflect on the subject in an introductory essay for a new volume (expertly) edited by Cristina Baldacci, Clio Nicastro and Arianna Sforzini. As the title of my piece “From Re- to Pre- and Back Again” suggests, I also reflect on strategies of prefigurative preenactment.
Here’s the blurb:
Over and Over and Over Again
Reenactment Strategies in Contemporary Arts and Theory
Edited by Cristina Baldacci, Clio Nicastro, and Arianna Sforzini
ICI Berlin Press, 2022
Over the last twenty years, reenactment has been appropriated by both contemporary artistic production and art-theoretical discourse, becoming a distinctive strategy to engage with history and memory. As a critical act of repetition, which is never neutral in reactualizing the past, it has established unconventional modes of historicization and narration. Collecting work by artists, scholars, curators, and museum administrators, the volume investigates reenactment’s potential for a (re)activation of layered temporal experiences, and its value as an ongoing interpretative and political gesture performed in the present with an eye to the future. Its contributions discuss the mobilization of archives in the struggle for inclusiveness and cultural revisionism; the role of the body in the presentification and rehabilitation of past events and (impermanent) objects; the question of authenticity and originality in artistic practice, art history, as well as in museum collections and conservation practices.
The book is available in print, and can be ordered from booksellers as well as directly from the ICI; it is also online at the ICI site, with my introductory essay being here.