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

Artforum International, Summer 2017 | Go to article overview

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


GLENN LIGON

Stuart Hall (1932-2014), the Jamaican-born British theorist who was one of the founders of the field of cultural studies, gave a series of talks at Harvard in 1994. The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation (Harvard University Press), edited and introduced by Kobena Mercer with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr., draws from those lectures and promises to be essential reading for those seeking to understand Hall's tremendous impact on scholars, artists, and filmmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

GLENN LIGON IS A NEW YORK-BASED ARTIST.

ASMA NAEEM

Because of Deepak Unnikrishnan's Temporary People (Restless Books), the constellation of imagery associated with the currently polemical concept of "immigrant" and all attendant humanitarian issues will now have to include Dubai's gleaming steel skyscrapers--as well as the foreign guest workers denied citizenship and laboring there under deplorable conditions. I've seen firsthand the interminable construction of temples to wealth looming above the vast waves of migrant workers in the desert; the discomfiting feelings are still with me. Unfolding in twenty-eight linked stories and using magic realism as its ballast, this debut novel offers a searing account of the ways in which displacement, no matter how necessary or promising, undoes us, in ways big and small.

ASMA NAEEM IS AN ART HISTORIAN AND CURATOR OF PRINTS, DRAWINGS, AND MEDIA ART AT THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY IN WASHINGTON, DC. HER ESSAY ON THE ART OF THE PARTITION OF INDIA WILL APPEAR IN AMERICAN ART THIS JULY.

DANIEL BIRNBAUM

Considering the innumerable studies on Marcel Duchamp, it may seem unlikely that we would need yet another examination of his early boxes containing cryptic notes, the exhibitions he staged for the Surrealist group, or the weird assemblage hiding behind a wooden door at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And yet Elena Filipovic's The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp (MIT Press) sheds new light on all those ephemeral and elusive endeavors that we might recognize today as "curatorial." Through a wide range of seemingly peripheral activities, Duchamp created the organizational support and framing devices for his more material works of art, works that emerged as "art" only once these other intangible structures were in place. Duchamp somehow produced his career backward; it's fully legible only posthumously. And he knew this: He claimed that posterity would have a word to say. I imagine Filipovic's book is the kind of posterity he was hoping for.

DANIEL BIRNBAUM IS A CONTRIBUTING EDITOR OF ARTFORUM AND THE DIRECTOR OF MODERNA MUSEET IN STOCKHOLM.

ROSALYN DREXLER

When I was a child and confined to bed with some illness, my mother used to read to me, often from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. I particularly liked "The Land of Counterpane," in which a child creates a world of his own. His counterpane (quilt) was the terrain on which he sent his soldiers out to do battle. …

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