Beginning this summer when I started preparing for Graduate School, I found myself lacking the knowledge to engage a lot of the conversations taking place within my main reading assignments; Donald Preziosi's THe Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology and Critical Cultural Policy Study Reader [yes, it is as dense as the title sounds]. Not only was I bored with some of the writing, but I also felt the need to search out the smallest details that didn't make any sense to me. I began referencing Wikipedia at least twice for every page of reading. This started to get old, so I began distracting myself with looking at books on Amazon.com. and then ordering them, too many of them - and I see no signs of it ending. This is the beginning of a series of short book reviews, schaafsma-style. Some of the books I will have read completely, some only read the parts appicable to what I am currently studying. I am also willing to let anyone borrow a book via snail mail [Geo. is borrowing Post-Production by Nicolas Bourriaud right now].
Child's Play: The Art of Alan Kaprow by Jeff Kelley
Alan Kaprow, known for his "happenings" and his ideas concerning "un-art" or "art-like art" and "life-like art," was innovative in pushing the boundaries of art, sculpture and specifically peformance after WWII. I always have been slightly fascinated with the zen-loving dude, but not until reading a discussion on the Chicago based blog http://www.leisurearts.blogspot.com, did I want to know more about his distinctions between these different ideas about art.
Post-Production by Nicolas Bourriaud
The author of the book that has produced the most heavily dropped "art" term, Relational Aesthetics, Bourriaud uses Post-Production to talk about the art of recontexualizing existing work. In the book he talks about artists such as deejays, who do more than just appropriate or sample others works, but take others work and then turn them into something completely knew and original. I look forward to reading George's article about pastiche in the world of music with mashups and heavy samples, in the next issue of LAMB.
Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art by Grant Kester
While working on the PLANT! project I became interested in the book and term Relational Aesthetics defined by Bourriaud and how it applies to community art work [and was is community art, or social practice]. I am still reading this book, but Kester has compiled the first major writings about groups working outside of the gallery, major institutions and other traditional art venues connecting these practices to writings from the 60s and 70s.
Between Artists Series: Liam Gillick / Lawrence Weiner
Printed Matter and A.R.T. Press started this series of books where they pair an established artist up with young artist who shares similar interests or works with similar thematic issues. Liam Gillick and Lawrence Weiner's conversation is recorded in this book talking about several different issues. The topics that most interested me were ideas about the social impact of art and students vs artists and their egos. The dynamic between these two artists is obviously strong and makes for some pretty hillarious conversations.
Between Artists Series: Paul Chan / Martha Rosler
Reading this tonight! WIll update after that!
Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life by Alan Kaprow and Jeff Kelley
I'm still working on this book too. A collection of essays from 1958 to 1990 by Kaprow.