Summer Reading: Eight Artists, Writers, and Curators Share the Books They're Looking Forward to This Season

By Salle, David | Artforum International, Summer 2015 | Go to article overview

Summer Reading: Eight Artists, Writers, and Curators Share the Books They're Looking Forward to This Season


Salle, David, Artforum International


DAVID SALLE

I've spent countless hours listening to Bob and Ray, first on the original radio broadcasts, later on cassette tape or CD compilations of their greatest routines. I don't know of any other comedy as mesmerizing or closer to the spirit of art--that ability to make a whole world out of a few ingredients. I love them extravagantly. Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons by David Pollock (Applause Books) is the first behind-the-scenes study of how the duo generated their material and shaped it into such casual sublimity. I'm cheating a little, as this under-the-radar book came out in 2013--but isn't humor always in season?

DAVID SALLE IS A NEW YORK-BASED ARTIST.

HAL FOSTER

Whither photo history and theory? A growth field in universities and museums a generation ago, it seems endangered today. For young people, photography is so last-century; for the rest of us, it is both everywhere and nowhere in a way that is very difficult to grasp. On the one hand, the great modernist accounts, such as the technophilic utopia of Benjamin and the traumatophilic pathos of Barthes, appear outdated; on the other hand, distinguished voices from somewhat outside the field feel empowered to tell us "why photography matters as never before." (Answer 1: Its digital pictoriality revives high-modernist painting; answer 2: This same pictoriality resensitizes us to "the miracle of analogy.") How will photo experts respond? I look to Robin Kelsey to point the way forward in Photography and the Art of Chance, just out from Harvard University Press.

HAL FOSTER IS A 2014-15 FELLOW AT THE CULLMAN CENTER FOR SCHOLARS AND WRITERS AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY.

AARON FLINT JAMISON

Listen, there are plenty of PDFs that I'll be carting around this summer, but what I most anticipate reading is Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (HarperCollins). Have you read his Reamde (2011)? I'm a sucker for speculation, and not just because Cascadia is such a good host to the genre. Reamde's a glorious floppy chunk of paper with its own wiki to help you out; its point of departure is a phishing file that triggers major plot shifts in a World of Warcraft-esque universe. Stephenson weaves an enthralling triangulation between Idaho-libertarian techno-utopianism, advanced MMORPG-ing teenagers in China, and the Taliban. So I doubt very much that the five-thousand-year-spanning Seveneves will disappoint.

AARON FLINT JAMISON IS AN ARTIST BASED IN PORTLAND, OREGON.

ROXANE GAY

From the very first paragraph of the meditative memoir The Argonauts (Graywolf Press), Maggie Nelson makes clear she's here to get you to think and feel through her sharp, utterly gorgeous prose. In compact metanarratives, Nelson examines gender, sexuality, motherhood, and the ways we connect, but does so in a style that is both intensely personal and welcoming to the reader. I can't think of a book in recent memory that I've wanted to read over and over as much as I do this one.

ROXANE GAY IS THE AUTHOR OF BAD FEMINIST (HARPER PERENNIAL, 2014) AND AN UNTAMED STATE (GROVE ATLANTIC, 2014).

EILEEN MYLES

The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa shake me with their spectacular brevity: "The green tree is hollow. When hit, it sounds." In prose about a painting, she writes, "It's all very amusing because I have never before seen a living heart nor dead skin. …

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